“That’s the risks you take when you go out of bounds" – Utah man fights off starving mountain lion with snowboard

Mountain lion running through the snow
The man says the mountain lion appeared to be starving or sick when it attacked him (Image credit: Joe McDonald)

A quick-thinking Utah man has managed to fend off a mountain lion which attacked him in the backcountry using his snowboard for self-defense.

According to reporting by KSL news, Charlie Duffy was hiking out-of-bounds near Beaver Mountain ski area on Sunday looking for some fresh powder when he noticed large paw prints in the snow, causing him to be on high alert.

Minutes later, he looked over his shoulder and saw the mountain lion behind him preparing to pounce. Fortunately, Duffy was able to swing his snowboard at the mountain lion and hold it back.

"It kind of got me on the neck when it was pouncing. Just a tiny bit – just grazed it. Nothing piercing the skin,” Duffy says in describing the terrifying encounter, adding that it managed to rip up the sleeve of his ski jacket.

Duffy explains that the mountain lion had another go, but he continued to use his snowboard as both a shield and a weapon until he was finally able to make some distance between himself and the cat. To escape, he rode his snowboard down the mountain.

Duffy says he thinks the lion was up to seven feet long. Mountain lion attacks on human are extremely rare – though a California hiker was injured defending her dog against one in October –  but in this case the cat appeared to be either starving or sick, which can prompt attacks.

“You could see its bones,” he says. “It looked very sickly. I got very lucky.”

Duffy says he doesn't think the mountain lion would have approached him if he hadn't been hiking alone, and advised other backcountry skiers and snowboarders to travel in groups for safety.

What to do if you meet a mountain lion: stealthy mountain lion

Duffy says he doesn't think the mountain lion would have approached him if he hadn't been hiking alone (Image credit: Getty Images)

Mountain lion safety

Mountain lions are extremely elusive creatures, but winter time can make food sources scarce, which can cause them to venture closer to humans, and even attack people and their pets. When recreating in the backcountry in winter, travel in groups and always stay alert.

If you do encounter a mountain lion, don't run. Keep facing it, back away slowly and make yourself appear large. Make noise and throw objects at the lion if it pursues you. Learn more in our article on what to do if you meet a mountain lion.

Julia Clarke

Julia Clarke is a staff writer for Advnture.com and the author of the book Restorative Yoga for Beginners. She loves to explore mountains on foot, bike, skis and belay and then recover on the the yoga mat. Julia graduated with a degree in journalism in 2004 and spent eight years working as a radio presenter in Kansas City, Vermont, Boston and New York City before discovering the joys of the Rocky Mountains. She then detoured west to Colorado and enjoyed 11 years teaching yoga in Vail before returning to her hometown of Glasgow, Scotland in 2020 to focus on family and writing.