Nine days ago on the 9th of July (which, happens to be my birthday) I went out with six of my good friends on a ski tour on Independence Pass in Colorado. But what started as a fun day in the mountains with friends turned into something much darker. There was a bad accident, and I am very fortunate to be alive. But I am not exactly okay. I suffered a broken neck while tomahawking — unconscious — down a scree and boulder field.
So I am sitting here recording this with a broken neck and a severely unstable cervical spine, and I undergo surgery this Thursday. I am extremely fortunate to be alive, and I am beyond fortunate to be able to walk and talk.
The purpose of this episode is twofold: first, we wanted to get the details of the accident out, especially to the many of you who have contacted me expressing your concern. Thank you so much for that.
Second, any time there is an incident in the backcountry, it is imperative to go over the details of what happened. And so this podcast is a conversation with 5 of the 7 of us who were out on Independence Pass that day. It is the first time we have all been together to talk as a group, and to debrief. And our major hope is that you will take away some lessons that may keep you and your friends safer in the backcountry.
This episode is a pretty tough one, but if you — or anyone you care about — spends any time in the backcountry or in wilderness areas, we hope you will take the time to listen.
Topics & Times
- Jonathan’s friends describe the crash (0:00)
- The group — who was there (5:00)
- The objective that day (10:00)
- The line (17:30)
- The crash (27:57)
- The response (39:20)
- The decision to walk out (55:36)
- The bear incident (1:17:17)
- What’s next (1:24:12)