After hearing about all these deaths my coworkers encouraged me to share my story to help boost morale around Whistler, and hopefully lead people to make safer choices, whether it's the location they're riding or choosing not to ride alone.
Less than a month ago, on a day just like last Wednesday (when the alpine was first opened after we got pounded with 46 inches), I went head first into a creek hole.
We were riding Million Dollar Ridge and ended up riding on top of a creek. The creek was covered but there were still a lot of holes, and the guys even stopped at the top of the creek to say, "Look we are going to have to go down this creek, so let's just go slow and stay together because there's a ton of holes."
I'm behind both of them and we are about halfway down the creek when I fall, which wasn't a big deal, but when I went to flip my board over my head to get onto my toes, the second I rolled backward my entire body just dropped and I was being anchored by my snowboard (the hole was covered by the fresh pow). My entire body was buried in the snow and from above all you could see was my board. It was basically like being in a treewell, the more you move to more you sink and the more snow drops on you weighing you down even more, except there's no tree to grab onto to try and maneuver. My goggles and toque came down over my mouth/nose and were suffocating me. I was finally able to get a little air pocket to breath but the more I moved the further I went down and more snow kept falling in my mouth making it impossible to breath.
The guy that was closet to me was 20 metres away and it was deep pow that he had to trek through to get to me. I finally heard my saviors and they got a hold of my arms and were screaming that they got me and it's OK, but they couldn't pull me out because I was so far down and there was a ton of snow covering me, weighing me down, and my board was still attached...and I could hear them starting to panic.
They were able to finally dig my head out but even more snow was getting pushed down my throat as they tried to clear my airways. Finally as soon as they got my bindings off my feet they were able to turn me right side up, I was so far down in the creek that I was standing in water. The three of us just looked at each other in shock and disbelief. If I had been alone there's no way I would have been able to get out, I was upside down and with every movement I sank further down — it was all fresh pow so there was nothing to grab or use to pull yourself up. They were both riding ahead of me and if the one guy hadn't seen me go down out of the corner of his eye I would have suffocated to death just like the man who recently died in a treewell.