JT Holmes, a member of Five Ten®’s Elite athlete team , recently attempted a ski down the Bec Des Roses, a 2700-foot face near Mt. Blanc. The first photo shows the face and the second, the tracks of his 800-foot fall.
(Photos courtesy of Timy Dutton)
Here’s a report from JT. “ I landed the cliff bad, was a bit in the back seat, which may not have been a problem if I did not have that mandatory left turn to negotiate in order to avoid the rocks to the right of the track. I was really just kind of asking too much of my skis and the snow and myself to pull off that turn while sitting up from the back seat position.”
JT estimates that when he first crashed, he was going about 50 MPH on the 45-plus degree slope of wind buff snow. (There’s some impressive spacing between divot mark number one and divot mark number 2.)
“The inertia was incredible,” says JT. “ I wear an item of gear that when activated by pulling a handle, inflates a pillow type thing around head and neck creating an air pocket for avalanche burial survival. Amidst the tumble, I figured, "why not pull the handle, the pillow will provide good protection." I could not reach the handle because the centrifugal force would not let me bring my arms in. My jacket was up, so I couldn't see much.”
The Bec Des Roses is about 2700 feet from starting line to finish line. JT tumbled a good third of the face.
“To be honest, it was not that scary,” says JT. “ I knew that it was a clean fall zone, with the exception of that one rock I tumbled over. That was of concern, but otherwise, I just tried to relax because I knew there was no stopping it.” JT had an aggravated right knee and bruised/tweaked ankle, so a helicopter dropped a line and plucked him from the mountain.
“A bit humiliating,” acknowledges JT, “but you can see that my skis are way up the hill, in between divots 1 and 2. It would have taken me forever to climb up to them, and I knew I needed a medical evaluation.”
“In terms of the outcome,” adds JT, “it rattled me a bit mentally more than anything else. It was humbling. A major wipeout in front of a huge crowd. Being in a tumble like that, in which there is just no stopping no matter what, you really realize that the mountains and gravity are the boss. It thought to myself mid tumble "well, I knew if I fell here I would go for a ride, now, I am going for that ride." It was a proud line, and I will be back to the Bec Des Roses for redemption.”
We’re just glad JT’s well on the way to recovery and look forward to seeing him ski the line next season.