Caught in an avalanche - I was terrified

09 December 2019

Interview with 

Lawrence Jones

AVALANCHE.jpg

An avalanche.

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20 years ago, Lawrence Jones was caught in an avalanche - and barely lived to tell the tale...

Lawrence - I was with a group of friends and we were in a resort called Alpe-d'Huez, which is in the French Alps. It's got a mountain called Pic Blanc. It's known for having the longest black run in the world, and it's a fierce mountain, it's a fierce black run. I opened the shutters the next morning, and it was cloud, and I came downstairs pretending to have all that bravado. "Aw, really looking forward today, chaps", you know. But I actually was terrified.

But they said, "oh, don't worry, we'll just head up to the mountain rescue hut and see what they have to say about it." And even though the lifts were closed, they managed to talk the lifties into opening both lifts. And off we went.

Off we were going up to the top and sure enough, all the signs for every single run: closed. Everything's saying fermé, fermé. And we traversed across the very top of this ridge, where there were lots of signs that essentially in French were reading "only idiots go past this point." And it was amazing. There was no two ways about it. And when we stopped, I said, “this is the most amazing experience I've ever had.” I said, “I will never ski on piste ever again, this is so good.”

We went one at a time. I think I was the second to last, so I was the penultimate person. And there was a moment where Danny overtook me, and as he went past me, he dug me in the ribs, messing around, and I fell off my snowboard, I was going very slowly at this point anyway. And so I unclipped the bindings and I stood up, and I waved, and I saw all the boys over in the distance waving and waving and waving. What now I understand was: they were frantically waving. And I just thought they were being enthusiastic, and so I enthusiastically waved back. And I didn't hear anything. To this day I don't remember anything.

The next thing I realised was I was suddenly enveloped in this force of nature, where I was being pushed, and pulled, and dragged, and I tumbled down the mountain; and I'm being sucked under the snow, and suddenly I'm above it, and then I'm under it. The whole mountain just picked me up, and the whole mountain went down together.

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