SUMMIT COUNTY, Colo. (KMGH) – A snowboarder caught in an avalanche managed to escape unharmed, and he captured the frightening moments on camera.
It was a lovely day in Colorado’s backcountry.
“Friday was beautiful, it was golden,” Maurice Kervin said. “We had actually been planning all week to go ski this line.”
Kervin and a friend hiked two hours to a spot called “No Name” near Loveland Pass.
“At the beginning of the day, everybody was really excited that the [avalanche danger level] had actually gone down, and that things had been getting better,” Kervin said.
Before they dropped in, they planned their route and tested the snow along the way to make sure it was stable.
“At that point I was somewhat nervous, for sure, standing on top of the peak. We were taking a very big risk skiing this line,” Kervin said.
“I dropped in, everything was going very well.”
Video from his helmet shows the moment everything changed.
“At that point it released below me and the whole slab started to go underneath me,” he said.
The avalanche happened incredibly fast.
“So, in my video you’ll see that I look up and around, and I watch the snow start coming down from above me,” Kervin said.
Soon he was swept off his feet.
When Kervin felt like he was going under, he deployed his avalanche air bag in his backpack.
“I started to do a backstroke and tried to kick my feet up to stay on top of the snow,” he said. “You float on the snow easier instead of being sucked down into the washing machine, so called.”
He fought to stay above the snow while dropping 1,000 vertical feet.
“And then you’ll hear some bumping,” he said. “It’s like being in rapids, essentially, is what it almost looks and felt like. Then you’ll hear my board hit the rock and me in the air.”
When Kervin came to a stop on top of the snow, he knew he was incredibly lucky.
“At first I’m just looking up in awe,” he said.
Kervin said his air bag and avalanche safety training likely saved his life. He wants others to know the risks of heading out into the backcountry, especially as calls for search and rescue are on the rise in places like Summit County.
“I knew what we were doing, and I knew what the possibilities were, and the possibilities that I had feared came true.”