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A Wall of White

The True Story of Heroism and Survival in the Face of a Deadly Avalanche

One of the most amazing survival stories ever told -- journalist Jennifer Woodlief's gripping account of the deadliest ski-area avalanche in North American history and the woman who survived in the face of incalculable odds.

On the morning of March 31, 1982, the snow had already been falling at a record rate for four days at Alpine Meadows ski resort near Lake Tahoe, California. For the vacationers and employees at the resort, this day would change their lives forever.

The unprecedented avalanche that day at Alpine Meadows was a once-in-a-lifetime catastrophe. Much like the nor'easter that bedeviled the fishermen in Sebastian Junger's The Perfect Storm, an unforeseeable confluence of natural events created the conditions for an unimaginable disaster -- and, in one woman's case, an astonishing ordeal of survival.

Jennifer Woodlief movingly tells the story of the massive slab avalanche that killed seven and left one victim buried alive under the snow. In this freak event, millions of tons of snow roared into the ski area and beyond, engulfing unsuspecting vacationers as well as resort employees working in spite of the danger.

At the center of this wrenching tale of nature's fury are ski patrolman Larry Heywood and his team, who heroically fought with the help of a search-and-rescue dog to save a twenty-two-year-old woman trapped for five days underneath the suffocating snow -- a tale of survival that is itself an exploration of the capacity of courage.

Written with all the suspense of a thriller, A Wall of White is an inspiring story of a group of strangers brought together by an inconceivable calamity -- a testament to the unwavering dedication of a band of rebel rescuers, driven only by a commitment to saving lives, battling not just extreme conditions but seemingly impossible odds.

Photo by Hyla Molander

Jennifer Woodlief is a former reporter for Sports Illustrated. Her first book Ski to Die: The Bill Johnson Story (2005) was optioned by Warner Brothers with Matthew McConaughey to play Bill. A graduate of Stanford University and UCLA School of Law, her past jobs included prosecuting first-degree murder cases as a district attorney and working as a case officer with top secret clearance for the CIA.

"Whenever you are faced by something that seems impossible to conquer, remember A Wall of White. It's a mesmerizing tale of human courage and heroism. Having been buried by an avalanche, I can confirm that this story will be unforgettable to readers -- adventurers and couch adventurers alike. Read it, be inspired, and keep on looking ahead!" -- Nando Parrado, bestselling author of Miracle in the Andes

"Fiercely compelling and at times heartbreaking, Jennifer Woodlief's A Wall of White builds with the power of an oncoming avalanche until the last, and final, redeeming moment. A powerhouse inside-look at mountain rescuers' lives, A Wall of White deserves to fit on bookshelves alongside Jon Krakauer's Into Thin Air and Sebastian Junger's A Perfect Storm. Required reading for adventure fans." -- Wayne Johnson, author of White Heat: The Extreme Skiing Life

"A mesmerizing tale of human courage and heroism." -- Nando Parrado, bestselling author of Miracle in the Andes

More books from this author: Jennifer Woodlief