Utah skier describes chilling experience being buried alive in avalanche

Avalanche warning sign
(Image credit: Getty)

A skier has described the experience of being buried by several feet of snow after accidentally triggering an avalanche last weekh. Travis Haussener is a regular skier who has been enjoying the sport for around 12 years, but ran into trouble while skiing in Utah last week when he suddenly heard the tell-tale sound of shifting snow. 

"I heard the big 'wumpf', felt like the ground shake, and then all of a sudden there's this wall of snow coming down on me that envelops me," Haussener told Fox 13 Now (opens in new tab). "And then I thought, that was it. I thought, you know, my life was over."

Haussner said that he usually kept himself safe by avoiding areas where avalanches are known to happen, but on this occasion he pushed it too far,

Once the snow settled, he found himself buried with only one arm free, and struggled to dig himself out. “In between digs, I started yelling for help, in, you know, the hopes of some miracle," he said.

Luckily for Haussner, that miracle arrived in the form of an off-duty EMT, who hard his cries and summoned rescue services. It took eight hours to get Haussner off the mountain, by which time he was suffering from hypothermia in addition to a punctured lung, broken ribs, and dislocated shoulder.

"I want to keep being in the mountains, keep doing what I love," he said while recovering. "I'll be maybe a little bit more careful next time."

Avalanche safety

Avalanches often happen after heavy snowfall, and can happen due to the sheer gradient of a mountain, but most are caused by human activity,

Last month, a 19-year-old had a lucky escape after accidentally triggering an avalanche in Colorado. The youngster was carried about 40ft, but escaped without injury and was able to walk away after emergency responders provided him with snowshoes.

Always check for avalanche warnings before heading out, and regularly check for warnings signs including cracks appearing under your feet or skis. A cracking or 'whumphing' sound is also a sign that snow is shifting, and you may be in danger.

For more advice, see our guide avalanche safety: an introduction to the risks and warning signs of snow slides.

Cat Ellis
Editor

Cat is the editor of Advnture, She’s been a journalist for 13 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).