Friday, April 30, 2010

How It Feels To Be Buried In An Avalanche - Ben Mullin

Rating ***

This is another article that caught my eye not because I recognized it but because it is not an article dealing with hypothesis or scientific research, it is dealing with real life experience in a unique and dangerous situation.

The date was March 4th 2001, Ben Mullin along with two friends were visiting Naeba Ski Area in the Japanese Alps. The specific day of the incident Ben recalls that it was snowing hard so they made the decision to spend the day skiing a steep forested slope near the base of the mountain. The conditions of the snow were good, it was stable. This caused them to be confident in the conditions and they decided to proceed to a steeper untracked face higher up the mountain. Because of their confidence in the conditions they foolishly decided to leace their packs aswell as rescue shovels in the lodge. Ben stated that his memory of that day was foggy and he only remembered minor details leading up to the avalanche such as where they ate and signs he had seen stating the danger of skiing mountains. Ben said that as he was skiing he became suddenly aware of the snow moving beneath him, a sensation that steadily progressed untill he felt as if he were struck by a powerful wave in an ocean and was carried down the mountain, falling head over heals. In his paniced state he was somehow able to keep his calm and realize that he had to try and stay on top of the snow and not be submersed. He says that he must have been knocked on concious but remembers coming too covered in the snow with the pressure of it weighing on him. His friends were able to get to him and help him remain concious untill help arrived.

The reason I enjoyed this article was not because of how it was written (quite poorly actually) but because the authour made it relateable to myself by comparing the sensations he had to those of common life. This may not be something that will be overly useful in my life as I am not an avid skiier but is interesting information none the less.

April 30th 2010
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  1. Rating: **

    After reading the summary of this article I was intrigued to read the experience this man had with the avalanche. The article is short and sweet but I thoroughly enjoyed Ben’s explanation of his dangerous adventure. The not so funny situation was described with much humor and it is easy to tell how grateful Ben is to only have minor injuries. Like many other articles it reminds me how deceiving the wilderness is, Ben and his friends were completely unprepared for such an event and even left their shovels at camp. Since I truly love to ski and am always searching for hidden trails and more challenging slopes it is a story I will always keep at the back of my mind. One year at Jay Peak a couple of my friends and I thought it would be funny to try a double black diamond ignoring the many caution signs. Needless to say we spent the entire run sitting and gliding down the drop, we may laugh about it now, but after reading this I must remind myself that we are also very lucky and should be more careful.

    Ben’s analogies made his story much easier to relate to, such as how he felt once he was hit by the mass of snow, and his description of the feeling of being trapped under the weight. I may not be claustrophobic but I know that would terrify me. Although he became unconscious at a certain point in time and suffered some injuries he was a very lucky man to have his friends there to save him.

  2. Rating: ***

    This was an interesting article for many reasons. It's nice to see that Ben looks upon his experience in a sort of fond manner and retells the story with an air of humor, despite the fact that it's quite a serious situation to be joking about.
    While skiing in the Japanese Alps, Ben Mullin and a group of friends recklessly decided to attempt a more dangerous hill, even though the weather conditions were good for skiing, their cockiness was something extremely notable as they recklessly left their shovels behind.
    While skiing Ben found himself caught in the midst of an avalanche and compares the sensation to being struck by a wave in the ocean. This is another reason why the article is intriguing; it's written in a way that's very descriptive and relate-able even if you've never experienced being caught in an avalanche. He was knocked unconscious and eventually rescued by his friends. This story goes to show how you should always be wary because nature is unpredictable and if you let your guard down, it may be your last mistake.