October 10th, 2009
Helmet Camera shows skier buried in avalanche for four and a half minute while skiing in Haines, Alaska last spring. Skier is pulled out alive.
Haines-While skiing in Haines Alaska last spring an experienced backcountry skier was caught and buried in an avalanche for four and a half minutes. The skier dropped into a powder slope and did not make the precautionary ski cut that is common practice when assessing avalanche terrain. Instead he was lured in by the deep powder and dropped into the slope. After a 20 second 1,500 ft ride in the avalanche he settled in under the snow and waited for his friends to hopefully locate him with their avalanche transceivers. Fortunately for this skier, his friends got to him quick and he was pulled out alive.
Two main factors contributed to his successful extraction from the avalanche.
1. The skier was wearing a Black Diamond Avalung that he was able to partially get into his mouth. This device allows you to breath fresh oxygen from the air filled snow packed around your body, and at the same time displaces the poisonous carbon dioxide that normally kills someone buried in the chamber of an avalanche.
2. The most important factor was that the other members of the skiers group performed a rapid rescue and uncovered the skiers face very quickly. Using their avalanche locator beacons, the other members of the group found the buried skiers signal and dug a hole to his face in under four and a half minutes. This is about as quick a recovery you could have in these circumstances.
Fortunately for this skier, he will live to ride another day.
Check out this harrowing clip. The sound you hear while the skier is buried is his avalung at work