EDMONTON – An Alberta man says he “won the lottery” on Saturday afternoon, when an avalanche slid under his snowmobile, he was not injured, and caught it all on camera.
“I didn’t notice the snow starting to fall away,” Terry Freeman said.
Freeman was at Bullmoose Mountain in B.C., near the town of Tumbler Ridge, with a group of friends. The rider had separated from the group and was doing a low-incline climb when the slope started to slide.
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“At first I didn’t know why I was slowing down,” Freeman told Global News. “I kind of got caught up in the moment.”
“I was so convinced that it wasn’t going to slide that I initially thought a big crevasse had opened in front of me.
“I’m going to die in a crevasse here,” he remembers thinking. “Then I realized I was sliding down the hill.”
He kicked his feet into the snow to stop himself.
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“It’s kind of amazing. The whole side of the mountain just turns into a wave.”
Freeman admits he made a mistake by assuming the conditions were OK.
“I didn’t really assess the terrain quite as well as I should have.”
Freeman said he chose Bullmoose Mountain because he heard it was not known for slides.
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Chris Brookes with the Alberta Snowmobile Association says it’s a “tricky situation” right now in the mountains. Avalanche Canada says conditions are “considerable” for slides for most of the Rockies right now.
“That must have been frightening,” Brookes said, after watching Freeman’s video.
“I don’t see anyone else in the video, which is a good sign,” Brookes explained. “It’s one-at-a-time on the hill, don’t gather up at the bottom and most importantly make sure you have the AST training. There’s two levels of avalanche training.”
He says sledders should be trained before they go out, get the proper tools and know how to use them.
“It almost looks lucky that he came across that rock cropping,” Brookes added. “It sort of halted his progress and dropped him into a void… he wasn’t taken by the slide down the hill.”
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If you are caught in a slide, try to stay on top of the snow and maintain an airway.
“If you have an avalanche air bag… pull your air bag and you try to make a swimming motion and get to the top of the slide. It’s important that you try not to get buried in the snow. Once the snow stops it’s going to set like concrete.”
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Freeman’s video has been shared on social media around the world. At first he wasn’t sure he should post the video because he didn’t want his family members to worry, but ultimately made the decision to warn others.
In the post he writes, “this event has realigned my approach to climbing, and I hope that everyone can take away something from my experience. This was very close.”
“I’ve made mistakes,” Freeman said. “Thankfully, I’m here to talk about it.”