Authorities said that a skier was left in the snow for 6 1/2 minutes after being caught in an avalanche in New Hampshire’s White Mountains this past week. A companion dug him out and he survived without injury.
According to a release by the Mount Washington Avalanche Center on Wednesday morning, three skiers attempted the climb of Wildcat-B/Carter Notch, but one skier decided to turn back because the conditions were too dangerous.
Jeff Fongemie was the interim director at the avalanche centre. He described them as “experienced backcountry skiers” who were equipped with probes, beacons and shovels.
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Unintentionally, one of the skiers started to descend and triggered an “avalanche“. According to the U.S. Forest Service, the person was swept down 500 feet along a narrow valley before being buried and unable move.
Fongemie stated that the person was “critically burried” meaning there was a possibility of obstruction to the airway. This was potentially life-threatening.
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Another skier started a search using an avalanche beacon but failed to find any signals. The center stated that the person saw a hand sticking out from the snow and began digging. After about 6 1/2 minutes, they were able to extract the skier and open their airway.
The skier who was freed was awake and well and they were able to leave the area on their feet. Fongemie stated that the pair reported the incident to the center by themselves.
According to the avalanche centre, it doesn’t release names.
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Fongemie stated that people should report avalanches to Fongemie because it can be very helpful in assisting other skiers.