Snowshoer rescued after 20 minutes buried upside down in avalanche

Snowshoer rescued after being buried for 20 minutes in Canadian avalanche
(Image credit: North Shore Rescue / Facebook)

A woman out snowshoeing with a friend during extreme avalanche conditions on Canada’s Mount Seymour, in the North Shore mountains north of Vancouver was buried for 20 minutes before being rescued. Neither of them had taken along any avalanche safety gear.

The dramatic rescue, which happened last Sunday, was captured on camera by team members of North Shore Rescue (NSR).

According to NSR, the woman was snowshoeing with a partner near Pump Peak on Mount Seymour when the avalanche struck and buried both of them.

“Neither of them had any avalanche rescue gear,” said NSR in a Facebook post. “After the first snowshoer was able to dig himself out with his hands, his companion was nowhere to be seen, and his shouts were met with silence. He called 911 for search and rescue, and after speaking with a SAR manager, began searching the avalanche debris. Thankfully, he was able to locate a snowshoe poking out of the snowpack, and from there, was able to uncover his companion who had been buried upside down.”

By this point the woman had been buried for ost 15-20 minutes. “She had a lower state of responsiveness, was cyanotic, and was quite hypothermic, but when she uncovered, was responsive,” says NSR.

Once members of NSR arrived on scene, they provided medical care and warmth, along with a rescue sled on which the woman was taken off the mountain.

The avalanche rating on the day for North Shore was ‘High / High / High’, meaning, “very dangerous avalanche conditions / travel in avalanche terrain not recommended / natural avalanches likely; human triggered avalanches very likely”.

As NSR emphasizes, not the best time to venture out with no avalanche safety gear and little in the way of avalanche safety knowledge.

“We cannot state strongly enough how lucky they were that the first individual was able to spot the second and dig her out. Had this not happened, we would be looking at a very different result. A successful rescue after a 15-20+ minute burial is increasingly doubtful.”