A snowboarder in the Austrian Alps has shared a video of himself saving his friend's life after he fell and became submerged head-first in deep snow. The footage, which you can watch below, shows just how quickly accidents can happen, even at low speeds.
"We went to the backcountry or sidecountry of Wagrain/Salzburger Land and had a good day," the rescuer explained on YouTube. "At a very easy passage, one of our friends fell head first into deep powder. He was very lucky that he a) did not hit anything with his head b) that I helped him out. He was kinda stuck in this situation and panicked."
As Matt Lorelli of winter sports site Powder explains, the accident could easily have been fatal if the victim (who is breathless when uncovered) hadn't had a buddy who knew the importance of clearing their airway.
Snow immersion suffocation (SIS) is always a risk if you decide to head off groomed runs. The danger is particularly great around the base of trees, where areas of loose snow can form. Skiers and snowboarders have died after falling in tree wells, where a person can become completely submerged, immobilized, and unable to breathe.
The National Ski Areas Association (NSAA) warns skiers and snowboarders never to venture into the backcountry alone, and always keep your partner within viewing distance. The website deepsnowsafety.org, produced by SIS Helpers NW, is recommended reading, and explains in detail what to do if you or your partner go down in deep powder. Above all, if you lose sight of your partner, assume they need help. You might not see them fall, and people have died from SIS because their buddy assumed they were waiting elsewhere.
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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.