Thursday (Jan. 17) was a beautiful, bluebird day at Taos Ski Valley. The sun was shining. It was warm. The skiing conditions were soft and powdery. Locals and tourists alike were riding the lifts. Business as usual.
But then a snowpack slid within the boundaries of the resort. Just before noon, in the K3 chute on the famed Kachina Peak, an avalanche engulfed two skiers.
An avalanche represents the terror of Mother Nature — indeed, the terror that exists within all of us. It is the literal experience of having the world open up beneath your feet, swallowing you whole.
Emotionally and metaphorically, nearly all of us have experienced this during a personal crisis. This could explain why those who were skiing, snowboarding and working nearby immediately jumped in to help.
Paying customers could have easily stood back and watched other people do the rescuing: a “let the pros do their jobs” type of response.
That’s not at all what happened. Instead, dozens upon dozens of skiers and snowboarders unclicked from their bindings and stepped up to probe the snowfield, as the eyewitness photos of Taos News photojournalist Morgan Timms attest.
Of course, TSV Ski Patrol and other employees are trained to spring into action. Their response is worthy of all the heartfelt appreciation they’ve received in the week since the avalanche.
Crisis reveals character.
As one of the injured was being transported to the Mogul Medical Urgent Care clinic, an exhausted and bedraggled skier approached a Taos News reporter, asking: “Are they [the victims] going to make it?”
The skier, a passholder and a part-time resident of Taos County, had just been on the scene helping with the search and watched as Ski Patrol performed CPR. “I’d never seen anything like it,” he just kept repeating, shaking his head.
Like the majority of the skiers on the hill that day, he was safe and fine and able to ski another day. But for a moment in time, the world had emotionally opened up beneath him.
Our thoughts are with the rescuers and eyewitnesseses who need plenty of time to heal from this traumatic event. We know officials at Taos Ski Valley are grief-stricken as well. Most of all, our hearts break for the friends and families of the two young men who died.
Rest in peace:
Matthew Zonghetti, 26, of Mansfield, Massachusetts
· Died Jan. 17, 2019
Corey Borg-Massanari, 22, of Vail, Colorado
· Died Jan. 21, 2019