GRAND COUNTY, Colo. (CBS4) – A backcountry skier survived an avalanche that he triggered Saturday morning on Berthoud Pass and it was all caught on video.
Lance Light said he was prepared but says things could have ended differently for anyone who doesn’t know the risks.
The video came from a camera mounted on Light’s helmet. It captures every moment before, during and after his ride through the avalanche
“It was just over so quick, it was crazy,” Light said.
Despite reports of dangerous avalanche conditions, Light and a friend decided to go backcountry skiing on Berthoud Pass. They had the gear and the knowledge to know what to watch for but decided to take a risk on a more questionable run.
“When you watch the video up close, I ski over a couple other people’s tracks that didn’t trigger it initially,” Light said.
Within moments of making that drop, Light watched as the snow split beneath him and opened up into a full blown avalanche.
“I saw it fracture and I just tried to straight line it over the cliff and instantly deploy my air bag,” Light said. “The road was only 300 yards away and there were tons of people up there snowshoeing and having a good time that don’t have any beacons, that don’t have any avalanche gear.”
Aaron Davidson, an avalanche tech in Grand County who responded to the slide, says the idea that avalanches are limited to deep in the backcountry couldn’t be further from the truth, and this is one an example that proves they can and will happen just about anywhere.
“We’re definitely telling them to be smarter, don’t chose big lines right now, chose nice mellow stuff,” Davidson said. “Wait until the snow consolidates a little bit and the snowpack gets a little more friendly to skiers.”
Light knows he should’ve done things differently and he says with as much as he had done to educate himself on avalanche conditions, his was a lesson he couldn’t get anywhere else — one he hopes others will learn from.
“Maybe I was in a little bit more of a risky zone, obviously, but it just shows that a lot of things can slide with not a lot impact on them and they can go big right now,” Light said.
Davidson measured the size of the avalanche and found the snow was six to eight feet deep in some areas. He called it a medium size avalanche. He says it could have very easily injured someone, or even worse, buried someone completely.