March 12, 2015

Insanely Lucky Avalanche Video


It takes a great bit of humility to mess up and then post your mistakes online.  This Australian was lucky to live to tell the tale and post this video so we can get the in-your-face reminders of how they messed up. Fortunately, his buddies saw his pole! We posted a short list of do’s and don’ts after the video. James Mort, the victim, posted on this blog: “Do not follow my path, always practice conservative decision making when in the mountains taking into account the local avalanche conditions. I was lucky, so far 75 people in the Alps this year have not. always carry a transceiver, probe and shovel and most importantly get educated. Speak to your local avalanche authority and to ski patrol if you plan to go off piste and complete an avalanche awareness course. It may just save a life.” 

1) The Obvious: Don’t party-ski off-piste in Europe above a terrain trap in High Danger; his buddy was lucky he didn’t get pulled into the avalanche as well after being momentarily caught. Think back to this.

2) Also Obvious: Wear your gear!! The victim had a beacon shovel probe, the rescuer only had a shovel and probe, and the 3rd guy had nothing!

3) Don’t stand there awkwardly even if you don’t have gear. (Their other buddy went for ski patrol, but the guys in yellow wasn’t being very helpful digging.)

4) DO NOT TAKE OFF YOUR GLOVES WHEN DIGGING! (At the end of the video the filmer can’t take off his helmet because he left his gloves 15 feet away and his hands are useless.)

5) Do not dig straight down towards your victim! Use a probe to determine the distance down and move that same distance downhill and start digging towards the victim at that angle.

There are many more do’s and don’ts. You can always start here and here. These guys were insanely lucky to not be dealing with a fatality. Stay smart out there!

Thank you for posting, James.



About the Author

2. Will Dujardin
Will Dujardin is our content editor at West Elk Project. He competes in big mountain competitions and coaches the Crested Butte Mountain Sports Team. Skiing is his life and he likes to mix it with other fun things like DH mountain biking and traveling.