A recent mountainside feat of Ruth Mahre looms every bit as large as anything her twin brothers, 1984 slalom gold medalist Phil and silver medalist Steve, ever accomplished on skis. On June 11, in only her third week as a mountain guide, Ruth, 25, was taking (while descending the mountain a guide stays in the back) a party of four down Disappointment Cleaver of Washington's Mount Rainier when an avalanche started above her. The group slid down the slope until Ruth's section of the line caught on a jutting rock. Her position and body weight supported two members of her party who were dangling off the same rock; the other two, though still in danger, were not entirely supported by Mahre. One slip and the entire group would tumble down the mountain. Her legs and chest pressed hard against the rock, Mahre told the others, "I don't care how uncomfortable you are, we're not moving until we're secured onto a different rope."
Rescuers arrived minutes after the accident, but it was more than two hours before the group could be moved to safety. By that time one of the climbers, Patrick Nestler, had died of hypothermia. While the other three surviving members were helicoptered to safety, Mahre, her body covered with bruises, declined medical attention and helped climbers from another group reach the mountain's lower camp.
Five days later Mahre returned to work, guiding another five-day climbing seminar. The following day, the Mahres' 70-year-old father, David, climbed Mount St. Helen's. To heat her brothers tell it, Ruth's heroism barely qualified as the adventurous family's most noteworthy achievement of the week. "It was no big deal," says Phil. "Just another day in the life."