STEAMBOAT SPRINGS, Colo. (CBS4)– A man who survived an avalanche is talking about being buried by snow to encourage others to be safe while in the mountains. One year ago, Ryan Mitchell had a life changing experience.
“It was just like a normal day. Me and my buddies were actually planning to go out and build a jump out in Steamboat,” said Mitchell.
He and his friends were snowboarding at Steamboat Resort when an avalanche was triggered above them.
“I was in front and my buddy Dane, he cut across, and all of a sudden you just heard this loud boom,” said Mitchell.
They tried to outrun the slide, but Mitchell and his friend were buried, “It hit me in the back of my board and I just went in.”
His friend got himself out and was able to tell their other friend where Mitchell was buried. Having prior avalanche training, they started digging while a skier who saw the whole thing went to get ski patrol. Ryan was buried for 8 minutes and had to come to terms with what could have been the end of his life.
“I was like, ‘Man, this is it.’ Everything went through my brain. The last conversations I had with everybody that I feel like I ever had a conversation with.”
Miraculously, he says his friends found him just as ski patrol was arriving.
“I guess my buddies were saying they took my arm out and it just flopped and I was just blue.”
Mitchell was taken to the hospital and by the grace of God was not injured. He was released and went for chicken wings to celebrate. He says he is telling his story now because he has seen recent stories about slides trapping and even killing people.
He wants people to know that enjoying the mountains is a good thing, just make sure you go with people who have avalanche training like his friends did.
“Keep doing what you love to do and just keep pushing man. I’m thankful that I had good people around me. Good friends that knew what they were doing and when times got tough, they didn’t panic.”