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Close Call | Avalanche Carries Skier Off Cliff and On To Colorado Motorway

Talk about a tumble...

Photo: iStock

An American skier is lucky to be alive after being swept off a cliff by an avalanche and onto a Colorado motorway.

After airing off a 15-ft drop the skier was carried over a 25ft cliff, with the fall burying the skier under four feet of snow just south of Silverton near Coal Bank Pass. His riding partner quickly started the search to find his buddy.

Avalanche expert Mike Barney, who was travelling on the road from Durango to Silverton, arrived at the scene while the search was ongoing. Barney works as a heli-ski guide in Alaska and helped find the buried skier, who eventually left the scene uninjured.

Photo: iStock

“It was a big relief, because when I showed up, I added up the minutes of how long this guy had possibly been under the snow,” Barney told Denver7. “And when I was able to clear his airway with my hand and I asked if he could breathe and he said, ‘Yes,’ in a clear voice, I was relieved.”

The skier was able to breathe because he was wearing an “AvaLung”, a backpack which features a mouthpiece delivering fresh air from the valve box and expelling CO2. The fresh air is pulled from the snowpack through a bi-valve intake box located in the shoulder strap, and the exhaled CO2 is directed away from the body through an integrated exhaust port.

This just shows the value of carrying avalanche safety gear when you’re out in the backcountry. It’s obviously a dangerous place, and riding with a partner should always be a priority.

You can find out more about avalanche safety from the links below.

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