GoBlog Editor's Note: Truly a tragic loss for everyone in the whole outdoor community. Our condolences to the all of McConkey's family and friends.
March 26, 2009
MSP Films painfully announces the loss one of the most innovative,
gifted, entertaining and inspirational figures in the history of
skiing. Shane McConkey, 39, died while performing a ski BASE jump off
the Sass Pardoi cliff in the Dolomite Mountains in Italy.
J.T. Holmes, a close friend and long-time jump partner of McConkey
who had jumped the 600 meter cliff moments before Shane, said McConkey
performed a double backflip from the cliff and planned to release his
skis and then fly in his wingsuit, a stunt he's executed a number of
times. But when both skis failed to release upon tugging on straps
leashed to his legs, McConkey went into an upside down position as he
manually attempted to release his bindings. Because throwing a chute
while inverted poses the likelihood of the canopy and lines becoming
entangled in the skis, McConkey used valuable seconds to focus on
removing both skis and succeeded. He quickly turned into a classic,
face down BASE jumping position to throw his pilot chute (which pulls
out the main canopy), but after 12 seconds of freefall he struck snow
immediately before there was time to react. He was killed upon impact.
Shane McConkey is survived by his wife, Sherry, 3 1/2 year-old daughter Ayla, and his parents Jim and Glenn.
Horrible news out of Italy, where Shane was filming with Matchstick Productions. The film company confirmed his death Thursday, according to the Tahoe Daily Tribune. No confirmed details of what happened, but it appears he was BASE jumping. Our thoughts go out to his wife, Sherry, and daughter, Ayla. Sad, Sad news.
They've been used in Europe for years and have saved lives. As the name implies, they work like a car airbag inflating with a nitrogen/compressed air cartridge to keep you afloat in an avalanche. One of the top brands in Europe, Avalanche Airbag Systems, finally cleared DOT and will be available in the U.S. soon. But they're pricey (prices start at $750) and once deployed, replacing the canister is a problem. Snowpulse is a new company with a same concept, but inflates to cover your head to provide more protection against head trauma, the leading cause of death after suffocation. Prices start at $1,000 for the Snowpulse avalanche airbag.
Finally, Backcountry Access (BCA) looks like they're getting into the avalanche airbag business with their own line called the Float 30 Avalanche Airbag, which will have a replaceable compressed air canister and retail at around $500.
Usually we leave this stuff to the folks at Hiker Hell, but this is incredibly sad and terrible. Not many details in this story, but an Israeli hiker accidentally wandered into a minefield, lost his foot to a landmine, and was being winched up a line to a rescue helicopter when he slipped out of his harness and fell to his death. Video at NothingToxic, if you have the stomach. [Photo from wsj.com.]
The death of Italian guide Frederico Campanini on Aconcagua in January would have probably been quietly noted as just another mountaineering fatality were it not for a video of his last moments that was delivered to his father. Some might make the comparison to the David Sharp tragedy on Everest, but that doesn't seem applicable since you've plainly got rescuers risking their lives at high altitude to save the climber. The Campanini video is brutal to watch, no doubt about that. It shows Campanini crawling, fighting for his life as rescuers argue/discuss what to do. Of course you can understand why Campanini's family is upset. To watch your son dying like that would be devastating for any parent.
But according to ExWeb, to save him, the rescuers would have had to either drag him back to the summit, then brought him back via the easy normal route, or tried to take him down the more technical Polish route which is where he was found after getting lost in a storm and hit by an avalanche. But as you can see, neither Campanini nor the guides were in any shape to contemplate a high altitude rescue like that. Of course, people question whether the rescuers were qualified enough, but that seems moot at this point. These guys were up there risking their own lives. If it had been easy to pull Campanini off the mountain, they would have. Aconcagua is no K2, to be sure. Even eBomb has climbed it. But at 22,000 feet, in a storm, trying to rescue someone who is far from ambulatory is going to be tough even for the best climbers in the world. My two cents. Via The Adventure Blog.