by Laressa Farnsworth
It was a perfect day for skiing in northern Washington. My dad, my sister Cora, and I were going skiing at Stevens Pass. After loading up the car with all our gear, we prayed for protection on the skiing trip. I didn’t know then how much I was going to need it.
After praying, we left in high spirits. It was about a two-hour drive up the mountain, so by the time we got there, I was ready for some action. We put on all our gear and started with an easier run on the front side of the mountain. It was a beautiful day, and I remember looking down on all the trees and snow. With a couple people skiing slowly down the mountain, it made the picture perfect.
We skied for about an hour when I suggested that we go to the back side of the mountain, which was harder. Cora and Dad agreed, so we got on the lift to go to the top. At the top we looked at the map, because most of the runs on the back side were really hard runs, such as black diamonds and double black diamonds. Cora and I weren’t up to that level yet. We decided on the easiest run we could find. But when we got there we found that it was too easy, and we were completely bored with it.
My dad was the first to notice the little side trail leading off the main trail. He suggested that we go on it, because it looked like just a little gently sloping gully. “I went down something like this in my younger years, and they’re perfect for learning on,” he said. So we started skiing down it. I was first, then Dad, then Cora.
As I went along, I saw a three-foot-deep hole go by me. I didn’t think much of it, because it could have been a tree well and I just had missed seeing the tree. A couple seconds later a few other holes went by me. It was getting a little scary, but I didn’t even think about trying to stop. Even if I had wanted to, I couldn’t, because the trees were too close, and I was going too fast. Meanwhile, Cora had almost gone into a five-foot-deep hole, so she and Dad had decided to leave the dangerous area and meet me at the bottom.
Now the crevices were about 10 feet deep, but I didn’t realize it because I was whizzing by them too quickly. For some reason I didn’t feel the least bit scared.
Then I saw a small bump ahead of me. When I reached the top of the bump, I saw nothing in front of me for about 12 feet. I knew I was in trouble as I felt myself falling. All I could think about was a story I’d read about this guy who fell into a volcano’s steam vent. He had been saved by pressing against both sides. So that’s what I did; I pushed my feet against both sides of the crevice.
As I hung there, pushing against both sides, I heard myself screaming and crying for my daddy. I couldn’t see up because my helmet and goggles were blocking the view. So I didn’t know how far down I was. All I could see was one ski going at a weird angle one direction, and the other ski going another way. I was probably screaming and crying for only two minutes, but it seemed like hours.
Then I heard my dad shout “Laressa!” from above me. “Hold on a second,” he yelled. In a minute he was by my side, holding me. It was then that I got the first glimpse of where I was. It was a creek bed. I had fallen about 10 feet, and I was five feet from the bottom. After asking if I was OK and reassuring me that everything would be all right, Dad carried me to a place where I could stand without getting my feet wet. He then brought over my skis. After walking a little way, we came to a tree that had its roots sticking out. We used it to climb up and out of the crevice.
My dad carefully escorted me to the end of the gully and asked, “Are you OK with skiing the rest of the way down with me?” I agreed, but I skied very slowly!
On the way down the slope, we met someone from the search and rescue team coming to see if I was all right and to mark off the gully as a warning for other skiers. He said that I was the second person that week to fall into it. They had put up a “Keep Out” sign, but we had missed it. We skied the rest of the way to the bottom, where the chair attendant told us that my sister Cora was waiting at the top of the ski run for us.
It took us a while to get to the top, where we found a very worried Cora. When Dad had spotted me down in the crevice, he had yelled for Cora to go get search and rescue, because he didn’t know if I had been injured. So she was really worried and was relieved to find out that I was OK.
The last person who had fallen into the creek bed had sprained their wrist. I should have at least gotten a couple of bruises or scrapes. I didn’t even get a hoarse voice from yelling! When we got back to the lodge, all we could do was thank God that I wasn’t hurt.