Imagine being out snowboarding one day when, right out of nowhere, the ground seems to open up and swallow you whole. It sounds like some sort of dirty White Walkers trick straight off the pages of Game Of Thrones, but this isn’t a work of fiction.
It happened to snowboarder Brandon Kampschuur while he was out riding in Chamonix, France earlier this year. He was shredding the back country with a local guide and a couple of other experienced skiers, along with a whole bunch of other people who were in the area, separate from their group .
All four members of the group were experienced and prepared for anything the mountain could throw at them. Or so they thought.
With absolutely no warning, while Brandon was hooning down the face of the Glacier des Rognons, he dropped into what must have felt like a bottomless pit in the ground. In actually fact, he was falling 50 feet into an icy crevasse.
Being an experienced snowboarder, more than accustomed to sliding down icy faces – albeit not vertical ones leading directly to the middle of the earth, Brandon used his snowboard to arrest his fall, burying it as hard as he could into the wall of sheet ice around him. The metal edge of the board dug in enough to arrest his terrifying descent.
“Brandon was rescued by the Ski Patrol using a battery powered hand drill”
Although he was unquestionably unlucky to have fell into the crevasse in the first place, a huge slice of good fortune meant that he landed on a snow bridge in what looks like Superman’s alpine holiday home The Fortress Of Solitude.
More miraculously, he did so largely unhurt, aside from just a bruised elbow. Either side of where he landed were further drops that, judging by how they appear on the footage, may well go on forever.
It’s staggering how calm Kampschuur remains while down in the crevasse. Keeping a level head, and avoiding panic in scenarios like the one Brandon found himself in is vital, but actually doing so must be the very definition of something being easier said than done.
Thanks to the swift actions of his guide and the local ski patrol, the rescue operation for Brandon was soon underway. Snow anchors were fixed to the ground around the opening of the crevasse, and ropes were sent down. Brandon was then winched up to freedom by those above, using a battery powered hand drill.
Crevasses aren’t uncommon, especially on glaciers. However experienced you are, it’s worth brushing up on your skills with a crevasse rescue course. While relatively costly, they pay for themselves should you, or somebody in your party ever need that knowledge.
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