Earlier this week, US Paralympic member Chris Devlin-Young became the first sit-skier to ski JHMR’s legendary Corbet’s Couloir, unaided. Corbet’s was dubbed “America’s Scariest Ski Slope” by USA Today (there is even a play-by-play on how to ski it, at least for people that have function of both of their legs) , and I’m assuming the “unaided” part or Chris’s accomplishment means that no-one helped him up to the rim of the couloir or pushed him over the edge. It looked like conditions were pretty good for Chris, so be sure to read his account of the run below. Impressive and motivational stuff Chris. Congrats!
March 6, 2011, JHMR- I arrived at the top of the world at 8:36am. There was fourteen inches of new snow and I was on a mission. The doors of the one hundred person tram at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort opened and the twenty of us walked out into a world of deep snow and the smell of coffee at Corbet’s cabin. I road out of the tram strapped into my Mono-ski and sitting on my wheelchair. When I got to the snow I went through my normal routine of clicking into my ski and blocking my heal-piece. Except there was nothing routine about today, I road up on the early tram to jump into Corbet’s Couloir.
The sound of avalanche bombs in the distance greeted us as me and a couple of friends, with ski patrol’s permission, skied down to the top of Corbit’s early. The snow was so deep I was having difficulty maintaining speed even though I was going straight downhill. The wind was blowing pretty hard, until we reached the lip. It seemed to slow down and the sun started to peak out and no one spoke for the first few minutes.
Chris Devlin scores face-shots in the entrance.
I have been trying to screw up my courage to make the thirty foot drop in since I first saw Corbet’s five years ago. Strangely today my heart was not racing and my mind was quite calm. Unlike the last five day of crazy vivid dreams of making that drop into the couloir and skiing away. I lost a lot of sleep in those days.
I was in Jackson as one of the instructors of the Steep and Deep camp. Doug Coombs began the camps in 1993 and I was going to teach ten adaptive skiers how to ski terrain that most skiers would never consider. Black diamond and steeper. Just another day of skiing for those who venture to Jackson’s legendary terrain. A mountain that has just a couple of beginner runs and the rest is mostly expert and above. The camp was over now and it was a tremendous success. These guys will forever sit at the bottom of a ski area and look up with the thought, I can ski anywhere up there!
My good friends Selko, Nate, Jason and a new friend Jamie waited while ski patrol finished there safety checks before allowing the mountain to open. A patroller arrived bringing with him his radio so we would know when the mountain opened. Time seemed to creep by like it does while waiting at the start for a downhill race. Without any warning the patroller’s radio came to life with the, all clear. Can ya believe it I actually got stuck in the snow just tying to get to the edge. Once I did I saw the thirty foot drop and it looked a hundred. I was there to ski and that’s just what I did.
As I scraped over the edge I went from a standstill to holy crap I’m going fast in less time than it takes to blink. The first turn to the right came at me at light speed. To my surprise there was a ton of room past that first turn so I linked a bunch more together until I got stuck again in the snow at the bottom. Holy crap.
Today was a first descent into Corbet’s Couloir by a sit-skier (unaided), and yes I would do it again. (if the stars, planets, moon and Jackson ever aligned again!)