The Avalanche at Tunnel Creek
A New York Times / Byliner Original by John Branch
When sixteen of the country’s best skiers and snowboarders headed to a renowned out-of-bounds ski area in Washington last winter, they were aware of the high risk posed by avalanches. Still, they took the deadly gamble—and lost. As Branch writes, “the very thing the skiers and snowboarders had sought—fresh, soft snow—instantly became the enemy.” In less than a minute, Tunnel Creek turned from a playground into an icy tomb.
Like the adventure classics Into Thin Air and The Perfect Storm, Branch’s story of the Tunnel Creek avalanche follows the seemingly innocuous events and missteps that carried its victims ever closer to tragedy. By the time the group arrived on the mountaintop, the sense of foreboding was palpable. Unlike a storm, however, an avalanche gives no warning. What slight movement could have triggered the massive slide? It’s impossible to say. With horrifying detail, Branch describes the feeling of being swept away and then buried under tons of snow and ice. Miraculously, some survived. Others did not.
Snow Fall is the first in a series of e-shorts co-produced by The New York Times and Byliner. These Originals, ranging between 10,000 and 20,000 words, are written to be read in a single sitting. Among future contributors to the Times-Byliner collaboration will be Pulitzer Prize winner David Leonhardt, Washington bureau chief of the Times, and Pulitzer winner James B. Stewart, business columnist for the Times and the author of the bestselling Den of Thieves.
About the Author: John Branch is a reporter for The New York Times. He has covered stories big and small, from the Super Bowl and the Olympics to lumberjacking and horseshoes championships. His 2011 story “Punched Out,” on the life and death of hockey enforcer Derek Boogaard, was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. He lives in the San Francisco area with his wife and two children.You can buy it at Amazon and the other usual eStores.
I also have one copy to give away. First commenter to include their email wins.