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Remarkable deep snow safety rescue on video at Mt. Baker is a lesson for us all

Categories: Safety Meadows Cares Guest Connection

A snowboarder is rescued from a tree well by a skier prepared with a shovel

Ian Steger had done everything right. He was snowboarding in deep powder near Mt. Baker with a group of friends. He had a beacon, shovel, probe and walkies. But in an instant, he found himself upside down in a tree well.

In an interview with KOMO News Seattle, Steger said, "What happened is when we went into the trees they were so narrow that we all found our own avenues and lanes. The one I chose happened to be the one that had a big tree well in it, a hole that I fell into." said Steger. He said he realized he was in trouble when his friends started calling him on his radio but he couldn't reach the radio. He tried to move out of the tree well but said it just made it worse. "I was gonna die on my own mountain in an area I’ve ridden hundreds of times," Steger said.
The video above is from Francis Zuber, who according to KOMO, was also skiing in the area with friends when he almost skied past Steger. Video from Zuber's GoPro camera shows him skiing between two trees when he practically skied over Steger's snowboard. Steger estimates that there was about 40 inches of new snow - this happened earlier this season.

With another powder maker headed towards Hood this weekend, we urge all of our guests to stick to groomed runs. If you are seeking off piste powder, especially when heading to opened terrain through access gates, you should ride with a buddy and keep them in sight.

Steger's experience is a good reminder of what to do when out in the backcountry. Zuber saved his life by doing the right thing. He saw a snowboarder's board sticking out of the snow and used his avalanche rescue training to properly dig toward Steger's head and clear his airway.

If you're going to be in the backcountry it is important to always be prepared. The Northwest Avalanche Center advises carrying a shovel and an avalanche transceiver, or beacon, which transmits frequencies and can help your teammates find you. Stay with your team or partners and also always make sure to check the avalanche forecast.

Thanks to Francis Zuber and KOMO News.