Drone video shows skier hurled from rock to rock in avalanche

Avalanche on mountain range on a sunny day
(Image credit: Getty)

A big mountain skier and has shared drone footage of himself being hurled down a mountain after accidentally triggering an avalanche in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.

Owen Leeper, a regular contributor to winter sports site SnowBrains, also posted a video from his GoPro camera to his Instagram account showing how frightening and disoriented to be swept away by an avalanche first-hand.

Now Leeper has also posted a video shot by a friend's drone, showing him being thrown between rocky outcrops in the narrow chute.

Incredibly, Leeper managed to escape with only a dislocated shoulder and cut knee. As an experienced skier, he knew the importance of keeping his feet below him at all times to avoid head injuries.

"I tried digging my hands in to stop me from sliding, but the snow grabbed my skis," he said. "I tried to reach for my airbag, but my shoulder was buried in the snow and I couldn't get to it before bracing for impact on the rocks."

Leeper believes his shoulder became dislocated while he used his hands to protect his face. He and a friend tried to relocate the joint, but eventually decided to call Teton County Search and Rescue for help instead.

When do avalanches happen?

Avalanches are a risk of many winter sports, including skiing, snowboarding, and snowshoeing, and it's important to undertake proper avalanche training before you head into the backcountry so you're properly prepared. Most avalanches are caused by human activity, and once a person is buried, their chances of survival drop rapidly after the first 15 minutes.

Avalanches can happen on any slope with an angle of 30 degrees or more that's covered in snow and ice. They usually happen in the backcountry; slopes at ski resorts are checked, groomed, and cleared by ski patrollers using small bombs.

"Every day in the mountains is risky, there isn't one day of the season where the avalanche danger is 'none'," said Leeper. "Every backcountry skier understands the risks. The important thing is to minimize risks where possible, but you can't remove all risk while pursuing extreme skiing."

Cat Ellis

Cat is the editor of Advnture, She’s been a journalist for 15 years, and was fitness and wellbeing editor on TechRadar before joining the Advnture team in 2022. She’s a UK Athletics qualified run leader, and in her spare time enjoys nothing more than lacing up her shoes and hitting the roads and trails (the muddier, the better), usually wearing at least two sports watches.