A 20-year-old Australian skier was buried by an avalanche in Europe, and then rescued by his friends. The heart-stopping feat was captured on camera.
James Mort had been skiing with some friends in Les Crosets, a ski resort on the border of Switzerland and France, at the end of January when he nearly lost his life, Australia's Daily Telegraph reported.
The Sydney University student detailed the harrowing experience in a vivid Tumblr post:
I looked up just in time to watch the avalanche envelop me. The last thing I managed to do before I was completely buried was to reach as high as I could above the snow with my left arm and ski pole. This may have ultimately saved my life.
As the snow piled higher and higher, It became darker and darker until I was surrounded by an eerie black silence, broken only by the sound of my slow breathing and racing heartbeat.
"Okay" I thought to myself.
Though scared, Mort wrote, he focused on slowing down his breathing to conserve oxygen. He then shook his left arm, which still had the ski pole attached, and “felt a ‘pop’” as the top of the pole broke the surface of the snow.
“Suddenly emotions flooded through me as I realized that [my friends] would be able to locate me under the snow if they saw the tip of the pole. However I still forced myself to remain calm as I sat in wait,” he wrote.
Daniel O’Sullivan, who had a GoPro camera on him during the avalanche and subsequent rescue, spotted Mort’s ski pole poking out of the snow. It was O’Sullivan who is seen in the video digging at the spot where Mort was buried, according to the Telegraph.
“It was an out-of-body experience,” O’Sullivan told the news outlet. “I needed to calm down because if I freaked out it wasn’t going to end well.”
According to Mort’s Tumblr post, two Swiss ski patrollers soon arrived at the scene, and they, together with his friends, helped dig him out. The whole process took almost an hour, Mort wrote.
Mort said he decided to share his story with the world in the hope that others will learn from his experience.
“Always practice conservative decision making when in the mountains, taking into account the local avalanche conditions,” he wrote in his Tumblr post. “Always carry a transceiver, probe and shovel and most importantly get educated. Speak to your local avalanche authority and to ski patrol if you plan to go off piste and complete an avalanche awareness course. It may just save a life.”