Friday, December 30, 2011

On the Sixth Day of Christmas Memories: Frostbite

One year when I was a teenager, my best friend, her sister and I decided we would go skiing. It was a crisp sunny day and we set out in the early afternoon a few days before New Year. I was very proud of my ski outfit and my bright red skis. I don't think I could have been much more than 16 because my girlfriend was not driving but had her sister with us and had her car.

Our original plan had been to go to a nearby ski run, but there had been some good new snow and on our way we thought we could save some money on ski lifts and such like -- if we did our skiing at a golf course that was on the way. So we found a good spot with a nice little slope for practice runs, parked the car and walked through a bit of woodland to the slope. I had all the right gear -- woolly hat, ski gloves proper parka and ski pants. So I made ready to climb the hill in front of me, encumbered a bit by wearing my skis and using my poles for the climb.

It was the first time since I'd left the house that I'd been in the open. I knew it was very cold, but I had not reckoned with the wind -- until it proceeded to blow me up the hill! Initially I thought -- "Oh, this is an easy way to get to the top of the hill!" But it wasn't long before I started to wonder if I would be able to slide down the slope once I turned around. And so about half way up I turned around and found myself being blown backwards up the hill... The only way I could stop was to fall to the ground. Very quickly the wind was blowing through the hat and it felt like my ears were being whipped -- which they were -- by the wind! I took my skis off and tried in vain to get down the slope standing up and just could not. My hands were now getting colder and colder -- but the pain in my ears was the worst. I got down on my stomach and managed somehow to crawl, with skis and poles in tow back to my friends at the bottom and the shelter of the trees. This took about 10 excruciating minutes. I was nearly in tears, but finally got back into the car and back home.

In fact I was very lucky. I had merely had a 'brush' with frostbite! My ears were bruised and sore for some time. For a week or so after it happened I had to wear a covering over my ears indoors and out or they hurt. And for many years I could never let them get cold without have pain to some degree. To this day cold weather can give my ear a twinge that reminds me of that day when I was about 16. That experience taught me a very important lesson about the winter weather: it can be very dangerous so know what you are getting into. If you are not properly prepared you can be in big trouble. When I went out I did not realize there was wind -- but I should have.


  1. A simple story but you build it masterfully and I had to stay until the end to see what happened.

  2. Really enjoy reading your Christmas memories stories. You're so right, wind chill can be wickedly dangerous, especially when skiing. Once used the wrong moisturiser[too water based] and 'peeled' round my eyes due to wind chill.

  3. Frostbite is nothing to sniff at. Well you couldn't could you? Your snot'd be frozen!

  4. G'day Broad. Another great story. Frostbite can be very serious, you were very lucky that it wasn't more servere. Look forward to reading more. Happy New Year. Take care. Liz...

  5. Back home now and starting to catch up, Broad. That was a truly terrifying experience, even just to read about. I'm trying to imagine living somewhere where that could easily happen in an ordinary winter. Brrr!!!


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