A frightening video captured the moment a snowboarder was swept away in an avalanche as he tore down a mountain in Utah Sunday.
Blake Nielson filmed the heart-stopping close-call as he was snowboarding in Big Cottonwood Canyon in Salt Lake.
The boarder said he dropped into a bowl near Kessler Peak and made a heel side turn when “an isolated wind slab broke loose below and above me which knocked me off my feet and took me for a ride,” in an incident report on the Utah Avalanche Center website.
In the helmet-cam video he shared, Nielson can be seen cruising down the mountain when the snow underneath him suddenly gave way and he shouted to his boarding partner “Logan, I’m sliding” over the radio.
“I’m staying on top, but I am sliding,” he yelled out.
Nielson was able to stay above the snow and make it out unscathed by making “swimming motions” with his arms and kicking out his board.
He was carried away with the rush of moving snow for about 300 feet, at which point he was able to slow down and come to a stop while the rest of the snow continued sliding down the mountainside.
The snow slid about 1,300 feet, Nielson said.
He said he and his snowboarding pals had tested the stability of the snow dropping into the Greaseball Couloir and found “no deep instabilities in the snow structure.”
The wind, however, was more unpredictable than they imagined, he added.
“Respect the wind,” Nielson warned. “Even a small ‘manageable’ wind pocket can break and carry you a long way in steep terrain with long runouts.”
Two skiers also reported being swept away in avalanches in Salt Lake caused by the wind in separate incidents Sunday.
Neither was harmed.
According to Utah Avalanche Center, there have been no reported deaths caused by avalanches in the state since 2021.
Meanwhile, in Colorado, two snowmobilers were caught in a large avalanche near Winter Park Saturday and died after being buried under the snow.