American Glen Plake, a survivor of a weekend avalanche at Mount Manaslu in the Himalayas arrives at the Tribhuwan domestic airport in Katmandu, Nepal, Wednesday, Sept. 26, 2012. Rescuers have so far brought down the bodies of eight victims, four French, one each from Germany, Italy and Spain, and a Nepali guide. The climbers killed were part of a crush of mountaineers who came to the peak in Nepal because of heightened tensions between Chinese authorities and Tibetans.
Seconds before the avalanche hit, Glen Plake laid awake in the middle of the night at on an 8,000 meter peak in his tent. He was reading his Bible and talking with tentmate Greg Costa.
Along with famed mountaineer and French skier Remy LeCluse, they were attempting to be the first team to ski the 26,760-foot high Mount Manaslu in Nepal, the world’s eighth highest peak.
The slide crashed into their camp and carried Plake 900 feet down the mountain. When he stopped he scrambled out of his sleeping bag and tent and yelled and searched for his friends, but both Remy and Greg were gone. Neither body was ever recovered. Nine people died that day.
“It was so bizarre, Greg and I were speaking to each other one minute and then he was gone out of my tent. I don’t remember any of it, he just disappeared. Faith and fate and were destined to collide, and that’s the way it is.
“I wasn’t ignorant of what 8,000-meter climbing is capable of, and it isn’t to be taken lightly. It’s been two years, and I don’t think about that day as a special day. It’s just a sad day and two people were lost.”
Since his days as a bad boy ski film star in the 1980s, Plake has matured into the face of American skiing. In 2012, he was inducted into the US Ski and Snowboard Hall of Fame.
“It’s humbling when you look at all the people in it and all the people should be in it. I never wanted to be in it. It wasn’t a goal. However I am proud to make way for non-ski racers into the US Ski and Snowboard Hall of Fame.”
He was recently in Boston for the Ski and Snowboard Expo. Over the years he has skied extensively in New England, and he is now the spokesman for the Snowsports Industry of America.
“I love the resorts here on the East Coast. This is where the skiers are, this is where the history is from large resorts to small resorts, East Coasters can rip in all conditions,” he said.
He believes skiers share a unique bond.
“Skiing and skiers throughout history are all connected. All of the skiing greats throughout history would have all loved to ski together. Style and equipment have nothing to do with it. It’s about the sensation of this very strange sport called skiing.”
He now splits his time between the US and France.
“Chamonix has given me a new horizon. My wife and I got tired of going to Chamonix and decided it would be better if we came from Chamonix.
Plake loves his fans.
“An autograph represents interaction with someone. I remember when I met Richard Petty, he signed a hat for me and he told me keep smiling and to be nice to people. That time and message with him I’ll never forget and I try to create experience like that,” Plake said.
Now, he’s taking a casual approach to the sport that defines his life.
“These days I’m accomplishing things because I enjoy it. I’m definitely not pressured to do anything, I just let the experiences come to me,” he said.
By Dan Egan
Source: Boston Globe