What I Learned From a Quote From an Avalanche Survivor
I grew up in Reno. When you want to travel to Lake Tahoe to witness the breathtaking views of the lake surrounded by snowcapped mountains during the summer or just simply want to take on the black diamond ski slopes during the winter, you fly into Reno. Tahoe is just hop-skip away to the wonders of Lake Tahoe and Reno is the closest city to have an international airport. In fact, as a kid growing up, we consider the ski slopes of Tahoe our own backyard. There’s a Junior Ski program that takes a bus full of kids every Saturday 30 minutes to the closest ski resort to get them started mastering the slopes early in their childhood. Our high school had a downhill ski team that competed against other schools in the county and some went on to become a professional skiers. All that to say, ski culture in Reno is second to none.
So, when I saw the trailer for this Feature Length Documentary called BURIED, based on the 1982 avalanche in Alpine Meadows (ski resort at Tahoe know for incredible summit-to-base groomed grails and panoramic views of Lake Tahoe and the peaks of the Sierra Nevada), I was intrigued and just had to watch it. Here it is…
In 1982, a massive avalanche had crashed into the base area of the ski resort after a four-day storm which had dumped close to eight feet of snow along with 100 mile per hour winds. The resort was closed but a few employees remained at the headquarters. And at 3:45 pm a tidal wave of snow came down and destroyed the building and buried the parking lot killing seven innocent lives. Here’s a crazy part of this story (warning: spoiler alert), one woman named Anna Conrad was found alive after being buried in the snow for a total of five days. She was located by a trained search dog, a German Shepard named Bridget. It took total of 117 hours for her to be found. It was a miracle beyond miracle that she was alive. She had been trapped in the second floor of a three-story ski lift building. She crawled into a space between all debris and a bench, surviving on melted snow.
When asked later while she was waiting to be rescued for 5 days if she ever gave up hope. “No.” She said. “I knew they would come” She never lost hope.
After this traumatic experience, the recovery back to the norm obviously wasn’t easy for her. She was dealing with the loss of her friends and the loss of the love of her life. At the same time, she was also trying to overcome survivor’s guilt of asking why. On top of that, the tough news she was told was that she would have to have her right leg amputated.
As devastating as that new way, this is how she responded. “What happened to me was a fantastic miracle, I can’t believe that I made it. It’s like so many miracles occurred all at once to save me, it’s just…it’s overwhelming. Learning about my leg amputation was very hard at first, but I decided there was no use being depressed, I was going to have to live with it so I might as well accept it.”
In the spirit of our new series “Inspiration”, I wanted to share this incredible survival story of Anna with you. I walked away from this documentary being reminded once again the fragility of life. And beyond that, I was inspired by her never giving up hope through one of the most hopeless circumstances. But most of all, I am inspired by her attitude of gratefulness and putting it all into perspective in the midst of her own painful journey. Her courage to accept, her courage to hope and her courage to live is inspiring. Are you inspired? My question now is how will this change and impact me? How will I learn to accept the things that doesn’t show up in my favor and how will I continue to see the hope and be grateful no matter what the circumstance I am facing? I would love to hear your thoughts.