Injury and Recovery – First day back on skis

On the 6th of May 2016 I completely ruptured my achilles tendon.

I was attending the Icefall Lodge Advanced Mountaineering course and we were skiing out of the Mons Hut, a remote satellite hut on the edge of Icefall’s tenure. Our first summit objective for the day was abandoned as limited snow cover wouldn’t allow for the ascent, so we continued up the glacier and decided on the St Julien Peak. A steep mountain for sure, but not a large relief over the glacier. We ascended over the bergschrund and up to the col of the summit without issue.

St Julien Peak & Col
St Julien Peak & Col


Ascending towards the Col
Fernando ascending towards the col

On the descent, I made a couple of terrible decisions, I decided to ski too aggressively and I didn’t consider the possibility of starting a slough. The snow conditions that day was breakable crust with about 30cm of boot penetration. I proceeded down making three large turns, slowed down to spot my exit over the Bergschrund and was taken by surprise by the small slough created by my turns. The slough was not large but given the steep slope I was totally caught off-gaurd and tumbled down, snapping one ski in half along with my achilles tendon. A retreat back to Mons Hut and a relaxed Search & Rescue heli-flight back to Golden was arranged where I received confirmation that I had completely ruptured my Achilles.

Back to Sydney with my tail between my legs and appointments were made with a surgeon for a repair of the achilles.

Just shy of three months later and I’ve had my first day back skiing. Felt great to be back on snow and there was no great discomfort skiing around. My weakened leg is far from back to full strength, I cannot do a one-legged heel raise, but skiing in stiff ski boots wasn’t any issue today.

Back on skis, feels good!
James in Powder heaven in Stanleys.
James – Powder turns!
Daniel enjoying slashing a turn
It’s a hard life for a snowboarder in Powder.
Daniel, hating life, obviously.


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