Tuesday, January 31, 2023


After operating security checks atop a Utah summit, Blake Nielson pulled his helmet over his head, amped to snowboard a winding path. However solely moments later, Nielson fell on his again as snow dragged him down the mountain.

The 30-year-old was caught in an avalanche.

“Logan, I’m sliding,” Nielson screamed right into a walkie-talkie in his snowboarding swimsuit to sign hazard to his buddy atop the height.

For a millisecond Sunday, Nielson contemplated the worst outcomes. He realized he didn’t have time to fret, so he swung his arms, as although swimming, to stay atop the snow. After sliding for simply over 20 seconds, Nielson halted to security.

Nielson’s helmet GoPro captured your entire sequence.

“I wasn’t in a superb place, however I by no means let myself get to a spot the place it’s like, life flashing earlier than my eyes,” Nielson instructed The Washington Put up. “That’s to not take it calmly. I imply, it positively may’ve turned worse.”

Whereas folks brought on roughly 220 avalanches in Utah final 12 months, fatalities are uncommon, mentioned Chad Brackelsberg, govt director of the Utah Avalanche Middle. He mentioned since 2018, 13 folks have died in avalanches in Utah, which is without doubt one of the hottest states for backcountry snowboarding and snowboarding.

Earlier than snowboarding, Brackelsberg mentioned, members ought to verify avalanche forecasts, equip themselves with a transceiver, shovel and probe and full security and rescue lessons.

“Ninety % of avalanches are triggered by the person who will get caught or by someone of their get together,” Brackelsberg instructed The Put up. “That tells you that they’re not random acts of nature. By making the appropriate selections of the place you’re at on a given day, they’re avoidable.”

A skier was buried by an avalanche. Then an off-duty medic occurred by.

On Sunday morning, Nielson mentioned he had adopted the information he’d realized over time in books and security lessons. He started snowboarding as a baby and have become enamored with the seclusion and journey related to backcountry snowboarding, although he was at all times cautious.

After a three-hour, 3,000-foot climb up Massive Cottonwood Canyon with a buddy to succeed in Salt Lake County’s Kessler Peak, Nielson mentioned he accomplished each precaution. He dug a gap within the snow and stomped all through the path with out snow propagating. He mentioned there have been robust winds, however he didn’t imagine the situations had been troublesome.

At an elevation of 10,200 toes, Nielson started a path simply north of Kessler Peak. After about 9 seconds and two of Nielson’s turns, the snow disseminated. All through the 22-second plunge, Nielson yelled to his buddy that he was sliding however on high of the snow.

After stumbling about 300 toes, Nielson stopped as snow continued to launch under him. His GoPro Max 360, which Nielson mentioned he purchased about two years in the past, saved filming.

Respiratory closely, Nielson transmitted to his buddy: “I’ve stopped sliding. I’m secure. I’m okay.”

Nielson, who mentioned he didn’t endure accidents, paused earlier than including with a sigh, “We’re okay.”

Nielson mentioned a wind slab, which might transfer piles of snow to new areas, brought on the avalanche. The snow slid about 1,300 toes, he added.

After mountain climbing roughly 2,500 toes down the mountain after his fall, Nielson returned dwelling to Salt Lake Metropolis. He mentioned he felt embarrassed writing an incident report.

“You’re at all times making an attempt to keep away from avalanches,” mentioned Nielson, who works at a Utah digital advertising company. “That’s the No. 1 factor. The truth that it occurred type of damage my satisfaction.”

Within the ensuing days, Utah snowboarders and mates contacted Nielson to supply their assist. Their encouragement reassured Nielson that he had utilized each precaution, he mentioned.

Whereas he mentioned he misplaced some confidence within the mountain’s security, Nielson returned to Little Cottonwood Canyon to snowboard Thursday morning.

“There may be a lot pleasure available within the backcountry,” Nielson mentioned. “When you’re going to do one thing that’s fulfilling and also you’re enthusiastic about, it’s price it to get educated and perceive what’s happening within the snow.”





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