Earlier this fall 16-year old Randall Stacy was riding at Cerro Catedral in Argentina. After checking the snow stability and watching someone shred the line before him, Randall dropped in and was caught in an avalanche. Watch and see. It’s frightening. But, Randall was found after being buried for just eight minutes. He sustained some serious injuries, but remarkably he lived. Watch the video and read what he had to say in the interview below.
filmed by Aaron “Trout” Maksyme
Photo: Ben Girardi
What went through your mind when you first realized the slope was sliding?
I remember the toeside turn and looking down and seeing this big mound building up probably 50 feet in front of me, and that is when I realized that it was sliding. First I thought ‘Oh my God, this is for real, you have to be smart,’ and then immediately I remembered what the SASS avalanche guides, Alex Hunt and Skyler Holgate said in the avalanche classes: try and ride it out at a 45 degree angle.
Did you even have time to react?
The way I had carved into the bowl put me in the middle of the slab so there was basically no way of me actually getting out of the way, but I had time to think and try. I hit the mound in front of me thinking I could get over it and cut out to the right and the snow just sucked me right in like it was moving water.
What kind of precautions did you take to test the slope before you dropped in?
Hiking all the way up there which took about an hour to an hour and a half gave us a feel for the snow, then at the top, Alex punched his ski pole through the snow to feel the different layers. After that, he cut the snow where we were dropping in, then he went first and it held so I thought it was fine.
Photo: Ashley Barker
Can you describe what it was like to be swept away in all that snow?
It was the strangest feeling ever. It felt like everything around me weighed a ton and it got heavier as you went deeper in the snow. On top of that, I could feel the slab below me rolling over every little bump in its path, it was like a roller coaster. Then the slab hit this big roll, and it pulled me in so that I was completely surrounded by snow. Not even my head was out, and from there I got really disappointed.
Did you feel yourself go over that cliff?
I remember going over the cliff. Right before I hit it, I was thinking, ‘Don’t hit the cliff, please don’t hit it.’ Then all of a sudden, I was launched into the air and landed on a rock and then bounced onto another rock. I didn’t feel the pain until the adrenaline was completely out and people were reorienting me and asking me “what hurts?”
What were you’re injuries?
The magnitude of my injuries was puny compared to what could have happened. I had a fractured patella (kneecap), which is the only thing that is hurting me currently. I also had a chip fracture in my pelvis, a hair line fracture in my femur right on the end near the knee cap. The joint in my pelvis called the sacro-iliac joint is a little funky. But other than that, I just had a few bone bruises and some cuts.
Photo: Ashley Barker
What did you learn from the whole experience?
Mainly be smart, and be strong. I want to learn more about the whole avalanche area.. The doctors said that because of all the dry-land training we do at Statton Mountain School, my muscles protected me from further injuries, so I’m going to keep working out till I get really old. Also, if you are going to be in the backcountry, have people who know what they are doing around you. The whole time I was with an avalanche guide and he found me using the beacon and probe.
Do you plan to return to SASS camp next fall?
Definitely. This summer was the best summer I have had in a long time and I look at what happened as something that I have to learn from. SASS was the most fun experience of my life and I can’t wait to go back next summer. It is such a different experience, powder is so different from being a park rat. Landing a 7 in park is completely different than in powder, I need to get better at spinning into powder. It makes you appreciate it more when you see people spin 9’s and 10’s into 2 feet of powder.
Photo: Ashley Barker