Whistler snowboarder survives avalanche thanks to inflatable backpack

Oye's avalanche  The Avalanche Airbag
Oye's avalanche The Avalanche Airbag
Author

14 January, 2017

Oye's bag worked properly and the video shows him staying mostly above the snow as he is sucked down the slope.

"You could just see him sort of on the surface", Cote said.

During the terrifying fall, Mr Oye inflates his backpack, specifically created to keep skiers and snowboarders near the surface in an avalanche.

Oye received the backpack from his 82-year-old grandmother as a birthday gift on a recent visit home.

"That was a little scary", he says when he realises he's safe.

An Australian TV news crew tracked down Oye's family in Adelaide.

"It was definitely enough to get you killed", Haegeli said Thursday.

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But he was saved from serious injury by the inflatable backpack, which acted as a giant cushion. Different models of the backpacks can cost as much as $2,000.

When a trigger on the shoulder strap is pulled, the backpack can inflate into an airbag (thanks to a high-speed fan). It also automatically deflates after 3 minutes to give wearers an air pocket in case they're buried.

"An airbag helps significantly but it's not a guarantee", he said.

Other safety equipment that North Shore Rescue advise include a transceiver (a transmitter and receiver), probe, and shovel.

"There's no substitute for good planning and informed decision making", he said.

Daily conditions on the slopes can be found on the Avalanche Canada website.


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