While winter is over, in calendar terms anyway, the recent snowfall dumping in the mountains means spring skiing is hot. That deep powder coming in last weekend, proving to be dangerous.
Kegan Creed was in the right place at the right time when he saw a skier get swallowed by a tree well. He had arrived to the mountain early that day and went up to take a couple laps by himself.
“I was basically on one of the first chairs on Skyliner as soon as they opened,” Creed said. “I went over to the Cloud Chaser lift to go ride some trees.”
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As he took his first run, he realized he had taken a wrong turn. Since he was by himself, he decided to be cautious and hike back up the way he came.
Once he got to a higher point, he waited a minute to catch his breath. That’s when things went downhill.
“These three skiers come past me and I say ‘Go left! Go left! Don’t go the same way I went.’” said Creed. “The first skier goes right by, the second skier goes by and then the third skier was Carolyn. She was going about 10 miles an hour and she kind of fell down on her side.”
Then, worst case scenario ensued.
“It just completely sucked her in,” Creed recalled.
He estimates Carolyn’s head was buried six to seven feet under the snow. The mountain had just consumed her, leaving her immobilized in a tree well.
Creed, 20 feet away, started climbing through the deep powder towards her.
According to Deepsnowsafety.org around 20% of ski-area related fatalities are caused by tree wells. Mount Bachelor said if you’re going to ski in the trees, ski with a friend, and if you don’t have a friend that day, you should reconsider going in the trees.
Lucky for Carolyn, Creed was her friend that day.
“I just ran over and started digging and started digging and started digging and just making so much noise trying to get someone’s attention,” Creed said.
He dug for more than five minutes.
“By five minutes in I was completely panicking, completely freaking out,” said Creed.
He finally found a sign of Carolyn.
“When I found her, I found a glove underneath my knee and so her head was at my foot level and I was completely covered in snow,” Creed explained.
With the help of two other skiers, Creed was able to get her out.
Carolyn is alive.
Kegan Creed, a workday construction worker, is a hero.