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In Defense of...Not Ducking Ropes

In Defense of...Not Ducking Ropes

[ October 20, 2009 - 1:33pm ]
Austrian Rescue Helicopter
Dek: 
Why you should hide your ego and follow the rules.

My friends and I spot the house from the chairlift. Although it's a typical Swiss alpine hut found in the Jungfrau region used for summer cattle herding, it's unique because (a) you can ride up the roof and huck off the top and (b) it's roped off. The latter is the more intriguing of the two observations given that in four years of living in Europe, I have seen exactly three things roped off: an unfinished terrain park, a Speedo-filled dance platform on gay pride weekend, and a man-eating crevasse that had, just days before, actually eaten a man. 

Shortly after leaving the lift, I straight-line for the house. I know the landing will be flat, but cushioned by three feet of newly fallen snow. I accelerate, duck under the rope, and shoot up the roof. At its apex, I pop off into empty air and grab my skis to accentuate my badassedness. People on the lift above hoot and holler in languages I don’t completely understand. Yes, I think, love me for my do-daring in the face of the fun police’s petty ropes. As I turn to watch my buddies hit the roof, I hear a young British voice from the lift say, "Woah! We should do that!" 

Later in the day, I negotiate a steep couloir on the far reaches of Grindelwald’s expansive terrain. Suddenly in mid turn, I hear the rectum-puckering whump-whump of snow layers fracturing. I look around wildly for fracture lines and sliding snow, but see only solid snow against black rock. Soon, I find the source of the sound: A yellow helicopter with a large red cross on its side flying overhead. Good, it’s only a MEDEVAC helicopter, I think, and continue down my line. 

After the couloir, we start back to the lodge for a beer and some over-inflated retelling of our exploits. The route takes us past the house jump where we spot numerous other tracks leading to it. And behind the house sits a yellow helicopter with rotors turning and doors open. A group of kids stand huddled to the side watching a small form bundled under layers of blankets being loaded into the chopper. The young boy under those blankets could have a broken leg or a broken neck. We don’t know, and we don’t ask. Instead, we ski onward to the lodge with the whirl of rotors deafening everything except thoughts of guilt.

—Jake Davis

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