VANCOUVER (NEWS1130) – Having proper gear on the mountains is great, but knowing the terrain and having proper training are essential, avalanche experts say following video of a snowboarder caught in the sliding snow near Whistler Wednesday, who was saved by an inflatable backpack.
Tom Oye, a 29-year-old from Australia, was snowboarding near Whistler on Wednesday when the avalanche began and he caught the whole experience on film. The sounds of a fan in the video indicate he activated his avalanche airbag backpack, a gift he received from friends according to his Facebook page.
The backpack increases a person’s surface area, making them more likely to rise through the smaller pieces of snow and stay on top of the avalanche.
North Shore Rescue Team Leader Mike Danks says the backpack could be a life saver, but it is not the most important thing on the mountain.
“First thing you need to do is take an avalanche safety course so you understand the terrain you’re getting into and the snow pack,” he says. “But when you talk specifically about equipment, at the very very minimum in avalanche terrain you need to have a transceiver, a probe and a shovel.”
Daily conditions on the slopes can be found on the Avalanche Canada website.