Family grateful to be alive after avalanche

9:23 PM, Feb 17, 2013   |    comments
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KUSA - A family of three is grateful to be alive after surviving an avalanche Saturday at Arapahoe Basin.

An avalanche "in-bounds" was reported Saturday just before 3 p.m. in West Montezuma Bowl. That is on the back side of Arapahoe Basin.
The slide happened in terrain that's in-bounds, but closed to the public.

The Colorado Avalanche Information Center says Arapahoe Basin Ski Patrol had just done avalanche mitigation in that area a few hours before.
Ethan Greene is the director of CAIC. He says a slide following avalanche mitigation, especially at ski areas, is rare.
"Occasionally you run into a situation like this, where you do quite a bit of work and there's still an avalanche that's triggered," he said.
Fourteen people were on a guided run that was closed to the public when the avalanche happened.

Marty Hodges and his two sons, all of them from Kalamazoo, Mich., were part of the group.

The Hodges say they followed a patroller and roughly a dozen others as they hiked to an area off limits to the public.

They began to ski down.

"All of a sudden I heard like, a 'boom,'" Marty said.

"I look back and coming at me was just big old boulders," said his son, Justin.

They describe a wall of snow and no time to react.

"I saw the wall coming towards me, and I was just skiing across rocks trying to get away," said Marty's other son Jordan.

Then, the snow overcame them.

"Once it hits you, it's like a tidal wave. It was, like, immediate," Marty said. "It just rolled you over and over."

Jordan said he couldn't breathe for roughly 10 seconds.

"When I was rolling down the hill in the snow, I thought, it's over, I'm done," Marty said. "When I finally woke up, there was like a foot and a half to two feet of snow over my face."

Soon, he was able to dig himself out and help arrived.

"That was my worst nightmare. All I could think of was a pine box flying home to Kalamazoo," Marty said.

Instead, he thinks he stretched or strained his MCL. He says his throat is still sore because of all the snow that he swallowed.

But he says he is grateful he and his sons are alive.

Officials at A-Basin say Saturday's avalanche is under investigation.






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