By Contributing Editor Laurence Gonzales, author of the book Deep Survival
(Editor's Note: This is the first Deep Survival column by award-winning writer Laurence Gonzales. Send in your survival stories and questions in the comment area below and Gonzales will give his feedback.)
FATALLY FALSE POSITIVES
On December 6, 1988, Todd Frankiewicz was on Tincan Mountain in Alaska, making his comeback as a top-notch skier. The previous summer, a serious auto accident had left him hospitalized, and after months of rehabilitation, he felt ready. The day before, he had gone to city hall for a license to marry his girlfriend of nine years, Jenny Zimmerman.
That weekend the Anchorage Daily News ran headlines warning of avalanches. But Frankiewicz had skied Turnagain Pass before and took reasonable precautions, first discussing the danger with Zimmerman and then calling Doug Fesler, a friend and one of the top avalanche experts in the area. As Fesler’s wife, Jill Fredston, wrote in Snowstruck: In the Grip of Avalanches, “Todd asked careful, intelligent questions.” Significantly, “he’d never before phoned us at home to ask for a personal update.” Fesler told him to “avoid steep north-facing slopes like the plague.”
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