DILLON, Colo. – A Dillon woman and her friend survived 52 hours in the Colorado backcountry after they accidentally skied out of bounds while at Monarch Mountain.
It was Kelsey Malin’s first trip to Monarch. She and a friend had gotten off the Panorama Lift and went straight over the mountain into a deep pocket of powder, not realizing they were out of bounds.
“There were no ropes, no signs or anything – just this awesome stash of powder and trees,” she said.
She and her friend tried to hike back up to the top of the mountain, but couldn’t do it.
Stranded without survival gear, food, or water, the two built a snow cave and spent the night.
They tried to hike out again the next day, but with feet of snow slowing their travel, the two were forced to build another cave and again ride the cold night out.
“There were definitely some points where I thought I was going to die,” Malin said. “There were definitely points where I wanted to give up.”
But she didn’t, and neither did her friend. Help eventually arrived and took the two to an area hospital.
Malin suffered severe frostbite on her feet, and some frostbite and frost-nip to her fingers. She says she still has reduced feeling in her fingers, despite them looking better. Her feet are still bandaged.
Malin credits anti-coagulant treatment at University Hospital for giving her hope she may be able to keep most of her toes.
But she says that despite the life=-threatening ordeal and frostbite that is sure to affect her in the future, she can only think about the next time she can go skiing.