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I didn't know if my brother was dead or alive, my heart was pounding, my legs were furiously shaking with fear, my skis were slipping, and I was beginning to freak out. The last bit of snow holding me up finally gave way and I lunged at a snow drift. It held. I dangled over the edge for a few seconds, and managed to pull myself up. I slipped out of my bindings, and tried to calm myself down. I decided, very stupidly, to put my skis on my pack, use my poles, and kick step myself out of the bowl, which is very wide, very steep, and completely exposed. Nothing but compact snow and ice. I began climbing, painstakingly booting holes two or three tries to get a foothold, then again, about 500 times straight up. Then coming back down at 45 degrees, and going back up again, all the while knowing if I missed one kick step, I would slide on my chest over the cliff.
As I skied down exhausted, two to three hours had passed since I had last seen my brother. I screeched into my walkie talkie hoping to hear his voice, anybody who knew if he might be alive. I found patrol; they said someone had been taken to the hospital.
I followed the noise at the clinic, and found him in bad shape. He was bleeding profusely from all his punctures; the floor was a half mopped red. They hadn't spent much time to dress the wounds because both his lungs had collapsed, and they were working on keeping them inflated and assessing his other injuries. Wires and monitors were buzzing away, his face was so swollen and cut that you could barely recognize him; it looked like he had been run over by a truck. The doctors were shouting orders, it was chaos, but he was alive. About 20 minutes later he was stabilized and moved into observation. An hour after that he was taken down to VGH in and ambulance, as the chopper was in use.
I left the message a mother never wants to hear, and drove down in silence to Vancouver. We spent three hours at VGH, and finally we were told that he was going to be okay. He had collapsed both his lungs, broke his pelvis in two places, broke his collar bone, separated both shoulders, broken four ribs, experienced minor head trauma, and had stitches and punctures all over his body. He was in intensive care for four days, covered in bandages with two garden hoses jammed in his lungs to drain the fluid. Chris spent two months in a wheelchair and on the couch, a month with a walker, a month with a cane, and now walks with a very slight limp. The doctor in Whistler said he is the luckiest kid he has ever seen in his 26-year career. He's right.