Mammoth, April 12, 2008

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Mammoth, April 12, 2008

Postby Tony Crocker » Sun Apr 13, 2008 10:02 pm

My intended 3-day weekend at Mammoth ended at 9:45AM Saturday after all of 4,400 vertical feet.

The Sierra has not had much snow this spring, and Mammoth has responded by grooming much more than usual. Notably Upper Dry Creek and the Face of 5. The latter I've never seen groomed before and presumed it was due to premature spring conditions, but Adam said he first saw it groomed a month ago.

Mammoth has always had high quality grooming, and most of them had been tilled to a packed powder surface. The main groomer on Chair 5, Solitude had an exceptionally nice surface and was wider than normal, so even Becky commented that she skied it "about 20% faster than normal."

After fiddling with my boots at the top of 5, I unfortunately did likewise. I was probably doing about 40 when the guy on my left doing 30 decided to cut right. In the resulting collision I cracked 3 left ribs, and the resulting pain caused shallow and labored breathing. Ski patrol was on the scene quickly, and between the breathing and drained color from my face they took all precautions. I was loaded onto the meat wagon with an oxygen bottle, collar and backboard, then met by ambulance for the ride to Mammoth hospital.

My breathing returned to normal once they got some painkillers in the IV, then I was sent for CAT scan and chest X-ray. The left lung had a slight deflation, so I was told to return this morning for another chest X-ray. Since the deflation was a bit worse this morning and my oxygen in the blood was 82% (they want a minimum of 90%), I was told that I had to be on oxygen if we remained at Mammoth, but it would be better to descend, using portable oxygen bottles until that blood percentage went back up.

We were sent to a med supply shop in Bishop to exchange oxygen bottles, but fortunately I was up to 95% in Bishop (4,000 feet vs. 8,000 at Mammoth) and didn't need to continue the bottles. So I'm home and off to my own doctor tomorrow morning.

I'm told the high level of discomfort will last about 2 weeks, and will be noticeable at lesser levels for about 6 weeks. That would be Memorial Day, likely closing weekend for Mammoth.
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re: Mammoth, April 12, 2008

Postby rfarren » Sun Apr 13, 2008 11:02 pm

Get better soon. Ski etiquette is not properly taught IMHO. Shame about that. Hopefully you can rack up some vert sooner rather than later.
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re: Mammoth, April 12, 2008

Postby Tony Crocker » Sun Apr 13, 2008 11:49 pm

I was unlikely going back to Mammoth before Memorial Day. So I basically lost this weekend and will have to deal with the pain for awhile.

I certainly have a good measure of responsibility for this accident. I think we almost subconsciously assess the "body language" of the people we observe while skiing. Like assuming beginners will be erratic, perhaps that a snowboarder's line might be different from a skier's. I assumed this guy would stay in his line, and when he didn't I was going too fast to avoid him.
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re: Mammoth, April 12, 2008

Postby jamesdeluxe » Mon Apr 14, 2008 6:51 am

Ouch. Sounds like the kind of collision I'm always dreading.
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re: Mammoth, April 12, 2008

Postby jasoncapecod » Mon Apr 14, 2008 7:43 am

tony, i broke a couple of ribs rock climbing 6 years ago. the recovery was more like 2 solid months. Sleeping was a major problem for me.
good luck
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re: Mammoth, April 12, 2008

Postby mikesathome » Mon Apr 14, 2008 9:53 am

I broke 2 ribs Playing ice hockey (cheap cross check) and broke 3 ribs on my Mt bike (damn dirt jumps)
I picked up a cold and when I would cough, it felt like i just slammed a brick against my ribs.
I think it was a good 2 months before i was 100%

Maybe a few pain killers and some easy turns you could be back on the skis in a month ;)
For me, skiing is a physical necessity. I have a need for risk.
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re: Mammoth, April 12, 2008

Postby salida » Mon Apr 14, 2008 12:12 pm

Heal up. Good to hear you talking about the injury in possible days lost, and not pain. You'll be good to go by memorial day.
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re: Mammoth, April 12, 2008

Postby Ryno » Mon Apr 14, 2008 12:25 pm

heal up, tony.

i remember my cracked rib at baldy hurt more than the mcl i tore in the same fall.
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re: Mammoth, April 12, 2008

Postby Harvey44 » Mon Apr 14, 2008 1:31 pm

Wow Tony. Really sorry to hear it.

I had a similar thing happen to me. Going very fast down the far skiers left and "passing" a guy who was 30 feet to my right making tight radius turns and then threw in a wide loopy one. I went down, and I'm not sure he even knew it. On teles there's the added excitement of bindings that don't release.

I'm thinking to myself...the downhill skier has the right of way..this was my fault. I still felt like the victim.

Hang in, man.
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re: Mammoth, April 12, 2008

Postby Patrick » Mon Apr 14, 2008 2:11 pm

Sorry to hear that Tony.

A good ski friend from High School had a bad collision with a tree at Sutton when I was in Jackson Hole back in 06. This guy got me into keeping track of my ski days, he had been going it for a few years when we started skiing together.

Always mentioned that he missed a couple here and there and do to weather, sick or injuries and that the total should have been X. I always told that I never precounted my days, because this is always something that might screw up and you're going to skip some days. I never take anything for granted.

Anyhow, in 2006 he broke something like 6 (yes, I think is was six) broken ribs, 1 or 2 cracked, collapse vertabrae, one total collapse lung and the other partially collapse + blood into. Ended up in the Intensive care, Hospital for a couple of weeks and through a couple of times. It took him maybe 6-7 months before getting the green to get back on his bike, a few more month to be able to go skiing. Of course, he could have probably done earlier, however he's not the KId.

Take care Tony.
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re: Mammoth, April 12, 2008

Postby ChrisC » Tue Apr 15, 2008 1:48 pm

I'm told the high level of discomfort will last about 2 weeks, and will be noticeable at lesser levels for about 6 weeks. That would be Memorial Day, likely closing weekend for Mammoth.


Heal up.

At least the timing seems semi-advantageous - and it did not come earlier in the season.
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re: Mammoth, April 12, 2008

Postby Twins » Tue Apr 15, 2008 4:23 pm

I hope you heal quickly.There is still some skiing left this season.
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re: Mammoth, April 12, 2008

Postby Tony Crocker » Wed Apr 16, 2008 12:30 am

I guess I'm not the biggest nutcase out there http://forums.epicski.com/showthread.php?t=69350 .

Or maybe my pain tolerance isn't so good. I'm a long way off from even thinking about skiing. I'm still trying to get the painkillers low enough to drive.

I just checked my new camera, and it is also on the DL. :(
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re: Mammoth, April 12, 2008

Postby skibum4ever » Wed Apr 16, 2008 9:31 am

Yeah, reading that thread convinced me that skiing 5 weeks after my knee surgery last season wasn't that crazy. If I were really hardcore I would have skied with the cast on and tied it to my ski -scary picture! Ski boots, release binding - who needs them when you're totally insane to ski? Anyhow, we sure hope you're feeling better and can join us for closing weekend at Mammoth and make a few turns.
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re: Mammoth, April 12, 2008

Postby Acidchrist » Wed Apr 16, 2008 3:45 pm

Oh man Tony, unfortunately I've scraped up plenty of collisions like yours. Collapsed lung is always in the back of a good patroller's mind when dealing w/chest trauma/broken ribs. Three or more broken ribs qualifies for a dangerous condition know in the rescue community as "flail chest", which can induce "paradoxical breathing" which can lead to lung collapse which can lead to the heart being pushed over from it's midline location into the "vacuum zone" which can lead to pericardial tamponade(fluid filling up the sack around the heart) which can lead to....yikes! You are in fact LUCKY if it's simply a case of 3 broken ribs!
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