Scaredy Skier: A Tree Hugger Gains Back Her Ski Confidence

Written by Greer Schott on  at

On top of the A-Z Chutes

Two years after a life-threatening ski accident, I hiked the A-Z Chutes with Trevor, the snowboarder who saved me

It was two years ago that Trevor and I first met, and though the moment is still quite vivid, I didn't remember his face or his name. I was too preoccupied with what had just happened - I'd crashed into a tree near the Natural Half-Pipe, and I didn't even register who was asking for my cell phone, calling ski patrol, and sitting with me as we waited for professional medical help to arrive.

In the hospital days later, I got a Facebook friend request from a Pennsylvanian teen. His name was Trevor, and he wanted to know if I was OK after my accident - he was the one who had found me, saved my life, really. He had noticed a photo of me hiking the A-Z Chutes at Big Sky. He'd never skied them, but asked if I might take him when I got better.

After months of recovery time, I did get better, and made a point to get back on the slopes. But post-accident I wear my avalanche beacon on Mr. K, avoid most glades, and head in whenever light gets flat; I've challenged myself by getting back out there. Deep down, I'm still a scaredy-skier.

But when Trevor told me he was coming to Big Sky this winter, I knew our mission would be to ski the expert sidecountry A-Z Chutes. It was a beautiful bluebird powder day, and we hiked the ridge with determination, stopping at a gnarly run called Castle Rock. Teetering on the ridge, my heart was racing. But skiing with Trevor had me feeling emboldened, and my nervousness turned into whoops of excitement as we hit wide powder turns.

Then we went cliff hucking, something I generally avoid. Trevor got ready to hit Big Rock like a pro as I inched up to the edge of the smaller drop, and hesitated. "You've got this," Trevor said, and I pushed off, proceeding to get the least amount of air in the history of cliff hucks, my ski tips hitting the snow straight-on and immediately ejecting me from their bindings. I tumbled through the powder, but found myself laughing in delight as I self-arrested; falling didn't have to be scary. It could be really, really fun.

Then Trevor suggested we ride the trees. I'm much more wary of tree runs these days, but I thought about whom I was skiing with - when it comes to life saving abilities concerning tree-related ski accidents, Trevor has definitely proved his worth. So into the powdery glades I went, and Trevor made sure to stop and check on me every so often as I took my time weaving through the once menacing-looking trunks.

We came out unscathed and smiling, exhilarated. I couldn't help but put my arms out and turn my face to the sun as we slid back down to the base area, soaking in the feeling that with Trevor's help, I was gaining back my confidence. I had been afraid of hugging another tree. Instead, I hugged Trevor.

- Greer