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Avalanche Survivor: Goggles Were Ripped Off, Mouth Was Full Of Snow

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(credit: Marty Hodges)

(credit: Marty Hodges)

SUMMIT COUNTY, Colo. (CBS4) – A preliminary report shows skiers triggered an avalanche within bounds at Arapahoe Basin Ski Area on Saturday.

The preliminary report from the Colorado Avalanche Information Center said the slide was approximately 300 feet wide. It ranged in depth from about 18 inches to 12 feet deep.

A ski patrol guide and 14 skiers were allowed back on Montezuma Bowl, which is extreme terrain. The area had been closed to the general public, but the group was allowed in after extensive mitigation.

“I think I’d do something a little less extreme next time,” Marty Hodges said.

Hodges had brought his sons to Colorado from Michigan to ski powder in the Rocky Mountains. It was a reward for his sons’ good grades. After a week in Summit County they had gone to A-Basin and at approximately 2:30 p.m. on Saturday they met at the top of the mountain.

“They were going to send out another group, so I told my dad and brother, and we were all good to go and just waited for 10 more people or so to join in,” Hodges’ son said.

(credit: CBS)

(credit: CBS)

The family was part of a total of 14 skiers and one patroller leading directed skiing on an area that hadn’t opened yet this season until that afternoon.

“Because I’m the oldest guy there on the tour I just decided to follow the instructor tight and I figured I’d just cut his line,” Hodges said.

PHOTO GALLERY: Avalanche At Arapahoe Basin Ski Area

After descending the mountain about 75 feet, Hodges and the patroller stopped to wait for the rest of the group.

“At some point he said ‘avalanche’ and this is when I heard a boom or a snap … and he said, ‘Ski away from it,’ ” Hodges said. “A 2-foot wall of snow just nailed me and took me about 1,000 feet down the hill to the bottom in quite deep snow when I finally came to.”

The entire group was caught in the slide. Hodges sustained the worst of the injuries, hurting his knee.

“When I came to my goggles were ripped off, my throat and mouth was full of snow. I moved my hand and I could see sunlight,” Hodges said. “I’d come today of I could. If my knee was intact I’d ski that hill again today because I want to check it out.”

LINK: Colorado Avalanche Information Center

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