2007, British Columbia

Last winter Dave B, John Johnston and myself headed out to an untamed line John had spoken highly of. Located deep in the Pemberton hills and off the back of a mountain known as Sampson. Sampson is powerful and if you're familiar with the legendary basketball star Ralph Sampson, it is every bit as scary.

We pulled up to the mouth of this manly breed of ice, rock, snow and an all out badass presence. It's rare that I am scared still a few KM's away from the zone. But once it came into view I knew we were in big country - and that this day might be different.

2 of our friends and one other fellow we did not know were also planning a day in the area. Delaney Zayac, Samual Casavant and the other guy were set on camping and descending a snow patch surrounded by a brutal icefall down the face of Sampson. It looked glorious but at the same time very real. When we arrived to there camp the crew had already set out. We did somehow learn that Sam was sent packing when he broke his finger the day before on another big descent. So it was just Del and the other guy who's name turned out to be Jason.

We moved on to our plan and left for a big sled tour around the back of this beastly mountain. It took a long time. Halfway there while negotiating some technical trees, I clipped a tree and bent my trailing arm on the sled. I made the decision that I should head back and make my way to safer ground before I got too hooped and too far out. Well Dave B is Dave B and managed to persuade me to hop on his sled and tandem until we made our way back to my sled. I was hesitant because John and Dave don't do anything that doesn't require significantly involved sledding.

We crossed what felt like a continent, John's line was a long way around and we almost linked back up with where the base camp was. As it turned out it was 2500-foot shoot that looked a little sun baked. By the time we boot packed up, it would have defiantly been baked. So we eventually went on our way to search out some other fun. A couple of ideas were mauled over and then a line or two was ridden.

The whole area is caked with ice cracking glacier over gnarled out cliffs, it was pretty nice and picturesque place to spend an afternoon. We eventually ended up way down another valley and around a corner. It was getting pretty late, the light was low and it was clouding over. Of course we rolled up to what could only be the most dreamy high alpine pillow stacks around. Pictures were taken and plans were made for a return next year. Then we finally headed our way back to my sled.

So now I have my sled with a badly bent trailing arm, negotiating those same tight trees that bent it. It all worked out in the end and finally we made it back to the base camp of our friends. When we arrived a weird mood stepped up. The camp was untouched and it was obvious that the boys had not been back. We check our watches and estimated that it had been almost 7 hours since we were here last. There was no way they shouldn't be back.

The light was getting really low and we didn't know what to think. Obviously negative thoughts went through heads. The area they chose to ride was an over hanging glacier with a ridiculous amount of holes littering its field. We stood in a line on our sleds searching for 2 people to appear, no tracks just grim ice and snow that was going greyer by the second. It was then that 2 black specs appeared to be moving. Relief and joy set in as not only were the buds OK but we were about to watch them ride this line.

Dodgy communication was made via loud echoing yells, there radios were dead and we could only watch. Jason dropped in confidently and to our surprise the snow looked glorious, he was making big GS pow turns and looked like a champ. And that is when it all to went to hell.

A mandatory choke laid half way down the line. As Jason approached the line it looked like he was coming in to hot. What was pow soon turned to ice and on the take off of the choke. He caught his edge and landed flat on his chest. The landing was also pure ice with just enough snow to camoflouged its reality. Jason slid out of control and approached a 15 foot cliff which he quickly shot over while in mid rag doll. His control and speed was gone from his own power and he picked up more momentum as he headed for what was certain death and solid 80 foot of out cropping rock.

It was like watching someone die on a live IMAX screen. He bounced around limp like a sickening blooper video and eventually aired the last 40 feet to thumping bomb hole and then slid another 40 feet down the slope lifeless and dead. Dave watched the whole thing through his binoculars, I had a 70-200 telephoto lens and John saw with own eyes and was very vocal during the entire episode.

The initial reaction was to go and attend to the fallen rider but the line chosen was plagued with a massive overhanging icefall. They had no radios and communication with Delaney proved to be an unfounded shit show. Delaney knew something went wrong even though he had no visibility from the convex drop in. I don't know how it came together but he made the right call and started hiking back out.

After Jason finally moved and waved a limp arm, John, extremely frustrated by the entire situation put his own world at risk and sledded as close as he could to Jason. Dave B followed and I stayed on look out for the falling debris. There was fresh ice chunder from earlier in that day, it was a very unsettling situation and Jason is so lucky he didn't hit any of it. After an hour of the shit show Jason was dragged back to base camp.

We still had a few more situations to solve. First our follow Goat - Delaney was facing darkness and had to backtrack across a patchy glacier that took them all day to cross. Second was getting Jason out of the area in one piece. His leg was a mess but adrenalin somehow pushed him onward. The decision was made that I would escort Jason out and that John and Dave would wait for Del.

It was officially dark as we left camp. Jason was still able to sit on his sled and hold the throttle while I tailed him out. That was until a nasty creek crossing followed by a deep hill came into sight. Jason was bucked off like a lifeless animal and laid in the deep snow. I burnt by breaking in a track for him to crawl up and then hiked down and took his sled up for him. Eventually we made it to the road where the pace was cold and really slow through what seemed like a million whoops.

We got out of there and escorted him to the clinic and I never saw him again. A few hours later I got a call from Delaney saying he was OK and the situation, thank fully was resolved in a death free manor.

I have never seen anyone die and I was convinced I did that day. It was a bizarre day for timing and events. For us to show just a few minutes before watching fellow shreds go through such an experience just makes me believe that someone else is out there with us... I hope there is at least.