Telemark champ recovering after tough break

By Troy Hooper
Real AspenMay 1, 2011
It's been a wild couple of weeks for telemarking maestro Nick DeVore.

He was on top of the world April 16 after hiking up and skiing down Pyramid Peak. The native son of Aspen became one of the few skiers (and maybe the first telemarker) ever to ski the 14,018-foot peak from its summit. DeVore hiked the mountain in the dead of night, without light, relying on the full moon to guide him. After enduring high winds and a blizzard at the top, when morning came he carved glorious turns with the sun high in the sky.

“After staring up at her daunting spires and slopes for years, watching the weather dance around her magnificent beauty ... I finally skied Pyramid Peak this morning,” he wrote in a note to his friends. “It was truly a dream come true, and very scary. Pyramid is a seriously burly mountain, stoked!!”

Fast-forward thirteen days and the mood was decidedly different for the professional telemarker.

He was no longer on top of the world but partially buried underneath an avalanche.

According to the Pitkin County Sheriff's Office, DeVore and a group of friends snowmobiled over Aspen Mountain and Richmond Ridge to Taylor Pass to reach the backcountry M&M Chutes.

Nick DeVore

Aspen Spin

“Mountain Rescue Aspen staged three teams of two, at the bottom of Express Creek. Flight For Life was able to land on the ridge, just a couple hundred yards from the victim,” Pitkin County Sheriff's Deputy Rene Rayton reported. “[Mountain rescue Aspen] sent two teams up Express Creek on snowmobiles. Flight For Life was able to reach the victim, and packaged him in a [sled]. The victim was carried to the helicopter, and Flight For Life transported him to Aspen Valley Hospital.”

The avalanche, estimated between 550 to 600 feet, snapped DeVore's femur.

“Well, it's official. I'm laying down in my hospital bed with a broken femur, they have actually already fixed it with a titanium rod and a few screws,” DeVore wrote in a new message to friends, posted on Facebook. “A small wet pocket ripped out as I jumped a cornice into this steep but short line, I almost had it but it sucked me in and sent my flying toward a protruding boulder where I broke my femur. I tomahawked and rolled and slid with the wet slide until I finally came to a stop and was just able to remove the snow from around my face, only my head was popping out. The pain was far beyond what I have experienced. After about two hours the helicopter came in a took me to Aspen Valley Hospital where I will be chilling for a while ...”

The accident marked at least the second serious one for DeVore this season. In December, a powder day at Aspen Highlands ended with DeVore cracking his shoulder blade and bruising his lung. He reportedly hit a hidden rock that jettisoned him head-first into more snow-covered rocks.

Despite it all, DeVore will no doubt be back in action again.

He has been heralded as the best telemark skier in the world by Skiing Magazine after winning the 2008 Telemark Freeskiing World Championship and other accolades. In the summers, he operates a telemark camp in Portillo, Chile.

Nick DeVore telemarking down Pyramid Peak.
Ian McLendon
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