Nerve-racking video shows skier save snowboarder buried head-first in tree well

Mount Baker, Washington State, USA
(Image credit: Getty)

A skier has shared chilling helmet cam footage of himself saving a snowboarder who had fallen head-first into a deep tree well. Francis Zuber was skiing on Mount Baker, Washington State, when he spotted an upside-down snowboard under a tree and immediately realized what had happened.

"I was skiing a zone with a partner when I passed by a snowboarder upside-down and buried in a tree well," he explained. "I only caught a glimpse of his board but it was enough to get my attention."

In the video, which you can watch below, Zuber acts fast to save the boarder before he suffocates. After working hard to clamber back up the mountain and He soon exposes the man's arms digging by hand, but rather than pulling his hands, which risks injuring the victim, he focuses on getting the man's face clear. Once he's certain the boarder can breathe, he reassures the man while they both take time to calm down.

Zuber then uses his shovel to begin safely clearing snow away from the snowboarder's body and free him, reassuring him all the while. As SnowBrains notes, he does everything right, and his excellent preparation and fast action undoubtedly saved the man's life.

Tree wells are areas of less compacted snow that can form around the base of any tree, and are extremely dangerous. In January, a skier in Colorado sadly died after falling into a well at the Steamboat Resort.

One way to avoid tree wells is to stick to groomed runs. If you choose to venture out into the backcountry, always go with a partner, and keep them in sight. Avoid getting close to trees, and be prepared for emergencies with a whistle, shovel, emergency beacon, and probe.

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.