If you were to make a movie about experiencing an avalanche, you could only hope it would look like this. The view from the top of the snow-covered mountain, with the skier pointing to his planned run, then the first few turns in fresh powder, the fault lines forming in the snow, the out-of-control tumble, the stillness of being buried alive, four-and-a-half minutes of heavy breathing and agony, and then the rescuer’s shovel opening up the view to a blue sky — all captured from the vantage point of a helmet cam. You wouldn’t wish it on anyone, but it’s crazy that it’s been captured and posted online.
The video, posted by Vimeo user Chappy, was captured in April 2008 by a customer on a heli-ski trip in Haines, Alaska. (“Chappy” was snowmobiling nearby that day, he writes on Vimeo, though some of his group rode the same helicopter as the skier caught in the avalanche.) The skier fell 1,500 feet in 20 seconds, but escaped without broken bones. He was saved by his right glove, which flew off as he was falling and led the rest of his group to where he was buried. Chappy writes:
And then the digging out is utterly amazing. I don’t think that you could’ve paid a Hollywood crew to stage something better. The fact that he could’ve been facing any 360 direction and yet he’s looking right up into the sun-filled blue sky with that first full scoop away of the shovel is borderline spiritual.