Spanked by Mount St. Helens

My husband, Erik, and I skinned up Mount St. Helens with our dog and camped above treeline. We were well conditioned, had extra food and fuel, and were super excited to ski a living volcano. On day two, we ate a leisurely breakfast and set out for the summit. 

  • Survive: Spanked by Mt. St. Helens

    After an hour of climbing, in the middle of a switchback, I felt an intense stab in my right knee and fell to the snow, screaming in pain with a dislocated kneecap.

    Illustration by Koren Shadmi

  • Survive: Spanked by Mt. St. Helens

    We splinted my leg, and I thought I could slide down on my butt. But it was very slow going, and a storm was moving in. It was now 3 P.M.

    Illustration by Koren Shadmi

  • Survive: Spanked by Mt. St. Helens

    We tried to fashion a rescue sled but without much success. My conclusion: Rescue sleds suck.

    Illustration by Koren Shadmi

  • Survive: Spanked by Mt. St. Helens

    Eventually I insisted on skiing out. I kept my splinted right leg locked into the binding, and my left leg unlocked for skinning on the flats. It went pretty well, but by the time we got back to our car, it was 2 A.M.

    Illustration by Koren Shadmi

Sonja Dieterich leads the Sierra Club's San Francisco Bay Chapter snow camping section.

"Lindsey did many things right—just not in the proper order. After her knee was splinted, she could have tested slowly skiing on one leg. Had her injury been worse, an improvised rescue sled would have been the solution. (Being dragged on a rescue blanket works better in soft snow.) Finally, I hope she was equipped with the 10 essentials and a plan to get help had all of these solutions failed."

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