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10 Hours Lost in the Woods: Why You Should Never Go Out of Bounds

woods5Our adventure begins here.

It all started because I needed to get an Instagram. After all, if you snowboard and don’t get any likes to show for it, did you really snowboard? Now Timberline was gorgeous on December 28th. We’re talking mid 30’s, blue bird, with a foot or so of fresh powder. I was pretty sure we could get something epic. Party Time Nate and I hopped on the Magic Mile as soon as it opened in hopes of scoring some untouched wind-drift gully action. Of course, the thing about the Magic Mile is there’s no tree cover, so the terrain actually gets horribly windblown – but if you know where you’re going – just a smidgen out of bounds to the West – there are a few sizable gullies to enjoy. Surely, even a snowboarder of marginal skill such as myself would be able to kick up a little pow or maybe even catch some airtime worthy of the feed.

We dropped into the highest gully, much to Nate’s chagrin – he was aware we may have to hike out of this and ew, who wants to hike? – but sure enough, an untouched wall of pristine pow sat in front of us. Nate tried to explain we should cut over, but I was determined to get awesome and pretty sure we’d be able to make it out or at the very worst, end up on the trail to Gov’y, a totally fun run with the added bonus of hitchhiking back!

I dropped in, totally didn’t have enough speed and threw up a weak ass powder puff only acceptable because I am apparently a middle aged woman (at least according to my longest standing intern.) With the gram in the bag it was time to get the fuck out of there, but not before attempting to get a back up gram on another untouched pow field and losing Nate in the process.

img_8679The shot. Instagram got. Now it’s time to get lost.

I waited for a bit and then said fuck it, we’d meet at the lodge and proceeded on my way. I did my best to cut left, all-the-while slashing untouched pow through the wide open evergreens on Mt. Hood. It was a damn sick run, and man was it long…

It’s probably when I hit the first river that I realized I may have fucked this one up. Who knows how many miles I’d been riding, most were easy going and the few flat spots were great for practicing my cross-country snowboard skills, and really not that bad thanks to the powder prowess of my Arbor Shreddy Kruger.  But the top of Mile to the bottom of Jeff Flood is only about two miles and I’d definitely gone more than that.

woods1“I’m by a River”

I was still holding out hope that I could connect with the Alpine trail, which runs directly into Charlie’s Mountain View, but at this point desperate measures need to be taken. I sent out a Snapchat SOS to Timberline marketing superstar Ricky Hower, and took the even more desperate measure of making my way across the creek – which was surrounded by 6 feet of snow – and then the ultimate sacrifice, hiking straight up hill to get to the top of the ridge line. I don’t want to talk about how long it took me to make it up those 500 or so feet, but by the time I did, it seemed the sun may have been starting to set.

The day as seen on my Snapchat

I finally reconnected with Nate via text, who had ducked out in time and was enjoying a beer in the lodge, and tried to remain calm. “Dude I’m so lost,” I wrote back. “Down and left,”  he said, unaware of just how dire of straights I’d gotten myself into. Ricky was slightly more helpful.

“I’m by a river,” I told him
“Damn, you’re deep,” he said, “but if you keep going south you’ll end up in Govy no problem, you’re not even very far.”

woods3It’s all up hill from here

He sent me a pin which showed where I wanted to be, .6 miles away, which while not really that far, is a lot less fun when you’re trudging though knee-to-thigh deep snow with a snowboard, soaked gear, and variable terrain (almost none of which slanted downhill.) But Ricky is a great cheerleader and he assured me I had plenty of time before sunset, and said he would call me back in a bit to see if I wanted him to call ski patrol. I fumbled with my phone compass to make sure I was headed south and thanked the ghost of Steve Jobs for the iPhone (and the fact the battery hadn’t died, yet.) When Ricky called back I was not having fun anymore. “Yes, I want you to call ski patrol, please send someone in here to rescue me,” I pleaded, fully okay with admitting defeat.

Unfortunately, I was so far down that I was basically out of ski patrol’s jurisdiction, and if I wanted a rescue, I’d need to call the sheriff, “But that’ll probably take three hours at least,” they told me. The ski patrol agreed with Ricky, I was on the right track and should just keep walking. Despite the general unpleasantness of my winter hike, the time did go quickly! Unfortunately that meant I had made it about .1 miles by the time the sun was really starting to drop. Ski patrol told me it was time to call 911 and request search and rescue, but of course, in order for them to find me, they wanted me to stay put.

I was soaked with sweat, which was beginning to freeze over as soon as I stopped moving. The ski patrol told me it would take them a few hours to get there and I should just keep walking. The sheriff told me otherwise. Every time I moved my location would change, and over the course of the night I had to call 911 a couple more times to report my movements, but miraculously, my phone stayed charged. When the rescuers took to the trail about an hour later, I finally sat down and huddled up for the long haul.

I took off my wet mittens, which were only succeeding in making it harder for me to use my cell phone, and tried to huddle my arms into my jacket. Unfortunately, once your arms are in your jacket it’s really hard to zip. So that didn’t really work. But despite my struggles, it wasn’t long before I heard whistles and people shouting my name. By some miracle, I had made it a few hundred yards from the cross-town trail, which was nice and packed down by cross country skiers.

The rescuers, who are all volunteers, gave me new gloves and stocked me up with a Gatorade and a Cliff bar. They also lead the way with snow shoes and we easily made it back to Govy in 15 minutes. My ordeal was over, and a mere 10 hours after I’d gotten off the Magic Mile. I didn’t have frostbite or have to cut my arm off or anything, so I’d say it could have gone worse.

wood4I got a Cliff Bar!

Of course, the first stop was Charlie’s, where friends were stoked to see me alive and well. Joey Bruce kept high fiving me and telling me I’d probably learned a lot of stuff today. So the question remains to be seen. Did I really learn my lesson on going out of bounds?

Well, maybe at Timberline.

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Comments (34)

  1. Reply to my email I sent in November wth your address. I’ll send you a NWS (no weak shit) fire starter multi tool from Prival for your efforts and for humbly sharing your story for people to learn from.

  2. Skier was killed Tuesday by a slab avy in a nearby area. No gear or beacon and the slope in your photo certainly appears to be steep enough. This was a stupid decision made with ignorance. Also, before you got yourself miles deep by yourself in backcountry terrain didn’t you think to check your iPhone gps and make a game plan? This is why people die that don’t need to no offense. This is why amateurs think they can ride avy terrain.

  3. Great to hear you made out okay.
    Big props for you to share your story – and hopefully educate others to the potential dangers of “just ducking a rope”.

  4. I wish I could have tapped through your entire snap story except the one where you here cars…could you not figure out by using Apple maps where the sound was coming from and walk towards it?

  5. story would of been funnier if you there was no cellular service.

  6. This is how people die. Did you have any avalanche gear? As a long time member of the snowboard community you have to have friends that have died in avalanches or tree wells. Do you want to be one of them? Please people, the mountain doesn’t know or care about the difference between sidecountry and backcountry. I’m glad you’re OK but you need to take a look at the fact that you risked your life for a gram.

  7. Just throwing it out there that with google maps terrain and satellite features you can get a good idea of where drainages off your favorite resort might lead to. A little bit of pre-game homework goes a long way. I know this was a spur of the moment decision, but knowledge is power. Also as others have said, if you aren’t beeping and don’t have the proper gear you really have no business going out of bounds. Glad you made it out ok. This site can’t die with you!

  8. I hear you guys lecturing on preparedness but riding those canyons can be so good that it’s tough to pull out (i.e. Go Left) I’ve made the same mistake in the Big Zig Canyon and had to follow the river all the way to Kiwanis Camp off road 39 in Rhody. It took hours but I knew the general direction of where I was and where I was headed. We’re all human and learn from these mistakes. I’ll never go alone again, and I bring my essentials whenever I’m headed to the sidecountry.

  9. Nice one Brooke this is how adventures are made. You dont die that easy my dad always used to say. Of course if you dont go you dont get into trouble but how boring is that.


  11. Glad you’re safe, shit gets sketch. People get lost near T-Line more than you’d think. I remember my first year working there and 11 people had to be found before the lifts even opened. That slope will funnel you down away from the resort. One of my two avalanche experiences happened out of bounds t-line. FWIW, the alpine trail ends near the chevron and the glade dumps you out above Charlies.



  13. Sounds likeyou overcommitted to sand canyon and made consecutive rookie mistakes. Going it alone without any idea of where you actually were is a cardinal sin of most S&R operations. Not having adequate gear nor supplies, and I would also imagine very little training in mountaineering, touring, or outdoor emergency care, while knowingly going into uncontrolled backcountry is another big one.

    More than anything you owe Ricky Hower and the volunteers of Mt. Hood rescue your life, because all things considered you had no business being in the backcountry and the only thing that kept you from wandering aimlessly lost in Mt Hood National Forest was their concern and hard work to fix your bad decisions. Next time you get the chance, go and buy em all beers or write thank you cards, because without them you would’ve been fucked with a capital F.

  14. Hahahhahahha you’re a idiot

  15. pow aint worth dying for ….. aint worth much really

  16. Point of the story is awareness. I like that.

    However, it’s a bummer so many people get big heads and tread thin ice. I’ve lost too many friends to crevasses and avalanches (who were very experienced in the backcountry), and it’s a shame that number will go up more when naive snow-bros essentially walk out blindfolded. Yes it’s mellow angle snow below t-line, and avalanches would be rare there… but a shovel, pack, water, snacks, map, layering, weed, extra gloves, etc., should always be brought if playing in any resorts sidecountry. Along with beacon and probe and extensive working knowledge of using and terrain evaluation.

    I used to think Portland was just bad at driving… Now I gotta keep my eyes peeled out in the woods too.

    My point is if the phone died, could you put big girl pants on and take care of your self and get to safety? It’s 2016, being unprepared equipment and knowledge wise isn’t an acceptable excuse anymore. Please take a class. Let’s be advocates and stewards for good mountain practices.

    Glad your okay. Let’s keep snowboarding fun, and any drama BS out.

  17. Gotta say again,, hahahhahahha you’re a idiot

  18. “When the snowboarder was located it was said that there was the distinct odor of big foots dick”

  19. Glad you are okay Brooke, you should take an avalanche class from Oregon Ski Guides, they have all female classes, you would dig.

  20. I wish you would have stayed out there and not written this article

  21. why does it feel like youre bragging about this

  22. kook beat

  23. Good one Brooke! Glad you made it out safely. I also got lost in that same area a long time ago. Went out of bounds at about 9am and hit the hwy well bellow govy at about 7pm… long before cell phones and no one knew I was out there. I think Dave Dowd actually picked me up randomly on the hwy…not sure on that though. I thought at one point I was spending the night. I got below the snow line and walked for HOURS along rivers and dense trees…scared the shit out of me… Glad you made it!

  24. wonderful issues altogether, you just won a logo new
    reader. What might you recommend about your put up that you just made
    a few days in the past? Any positive?


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