If you’ve ever wondered exactly how terrifying it is to actually be caught in an avalanche, let me direct you to the above video which was taken back in January. Three skiers were skiing at the Les Crosets, which is the highest altitude ski resort in the Swiss Alps, shortly after a snowstorm had dumped about three feet of powdery snow on the mountain in a 48-hour period.
All of a sudden, as the three men neared the end of a slope, they were taken off guard by an avalanche, and one of them was completely buried as his friends rushed to rescue him before his air gave out, all recorded by a helmet cam.
Daniel O’Sullivan, the guy who actually got buried, wrote an account of his near death experience:
As I landed I noticed the snow around me start to slab and break away, so I pointed my skis straight and went as fast as I could in order to ski over the slab and outrun the avalanche. I figured my best option was to ski over the frozen creek at the bottom and up the other side of the gully to escape. However as I hit the creek I slammed into a shoulder high wall of snow on the other side of the gully which stopped me dead in my tracks. I looked up just in time to watch the avalanche envelope me. The last thing I managed to do before I was completely buried was to reach as high as I could above the snow with my left arm and ski pole. This may have ultimately saved my life.
As the snow piled higher and higher, It became darker and darker until I was surrounded by an eerie black silence, broken only by the sound of my slow breathing and racing heartbeat.
“Okay” I thought to myself; “You’re dead.”
I had a shovel and probe in my backpack and I was wearing a transceiver, however, the others were only carrying a shovel and probe. I was convinced that they would not find me in time. Unable to move I focused on slowing my breathing, relaxing and conserving oxygen. I felt bizarrely emotionless and wondered for a moment what death would be like. Then I remembered that I was reaching upwards with my left arm, ski pole still attached. I tried to wiggle my hand and I felt a ‘pop’ as the top 5cm of the pole broke the surface of the snow. Suddenly emotion flooded through me as I realised that Andrew, Dan and Leonard would be able to locate me under the snow if they saw the tip of the pole. However I still forced myself to remain calm as I sat in wait.
You can read the whole terrifying thing here. Apparently, 75 people (at the time of that writing) have been killed by avalanches in the Swiss Alps this year alone. Like I said, terrifying.