Just minutes after being buried alive by a terrifying avalanche, two snowboarders dug themselves out and found that fate had placed them in a unique position.
Loren Ennis and his best friend Ben Erskine both discovered other people had been buried next to them, and both were able to save a life, after nearly losing their own.
At Palisades ski resort in early January, Ennis and Erskine were shocked to find the chair lift for the KT-22 run was open and operating. Though the wind and snow made the avalanche risk high, the two figured that it was safe enough that morning seeing as the lift was operational.
However, by the time they arrived at the top of the KT-22 run, conditions had worsened to a near white-out, and it wasn’t long before they realized—from the calling of the other skiers on the lifts—that Mother Nature was thundering towards them.
For a period they were able to use their skills to travel with the avalanche before being swallowed.
“It was like a locked-in water slide. It was the most surreal, crazy thing ever. You could not move anything in your lower body. It was like a million-pound weighted blanket,” Ennis told CBS.
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Against the odds, the pair came to a halt near each other, as well as in a position that allowed them to dig themselves out. Once their heads were above the snow, they realized two skiers were buried mere feet from them, and that they had to be the first responders.
Janet He, a skier in her 40s, couldn’t leverage her strength to dig herself out, and in such a situation death from asphyxiation can arrive within minutes. But Ennis arrived sooner, digging her out with reassuring words that He admitted she would remember for the rest of her life. Erskine also dug out a man.
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The mountain gives and the mountain takes away—and though one man died in that avalanche, and the two friends had only miraculously survived a near-death experience, they were already prepared to return for some shredding by the time CBS reported on the news. Janet He was on the slopes the very next morning.
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