Evan and Kahlynn Huck experienced every snowboarder's worst nightmare and came out on the other side alive. The San Francisco natives were carving the slopes at Squaw Valley Ski Resort near Lake Tahoe, California when they heard a shout behind them. The Hucks looked back just in time to see themselves overtaken by an 8-foot wall of snow. Before they could react, the couple was completely buried. If he weren't so lucky, that might have been the end... fortunately, however, someone managed to spot Evan's snowboard peeking out of the snow and nearby skiers were able to dig him out!
At first, Evan was conscious beneath the avalanche. In his words:
I was conscious for about 45 seconds while I was under the snow at first, then I kind of ran out of oxygen and passed out.
Forunately, Kahlynn was able to dig her way out. But her ordeal was far from over:
I was inconsolable, I was hysterical. I was wondering if that was it and my husband was gone
Evan and Kahlynn both feel incredibly lucky, and told local news crews they have a "new lease on life."
Skier Joe Breault was among the skiers that helped dig Evan out of the snow before he died of suffocation. He described the moment Evan regained consciousness:
...he opened his eyes and looked right at me and said, 'Where's my wife?'
Huck and others nearby estimate he was under the snow for 5-6 minutes.
The average human can go around 5-10 minutes without suffering any major harm (aside from possibly passing out). Another few minutes, however, and Evan may have suffered permanent brain damage. Another few minutes after that, and he might have died. It's a good thing there were many sharp-eyed heroes on hand to quickly track him down.
Twitter was incredibly relieved everyone made if off the mountain ok!
The avalanche was a result of a blizzard which pummeled the Sierra Nevada Mountain range with winds of up to 150 miles per hour for several days. Though it seemed the worst of the storm had passed, it had left behind 7 feet of newly fallen, unstable snow - a natural disaster waiting to happen.
Two others were buried in the same avalanche as the Hucks and taken to a nearby hospital with minor injuries.
Sadly, two other snowboarders in the area were killed this weekend by the blizzard weather conditions. On Friday, March 2, the body of Wenyu Zhang, 42, was recovered on the slopes of Squaw Valley, having "died during the severe weather." At China Peak Ski Resort, Blake Smith, 36, fell headfirst into deep snow (a result of the increased precipitation), and suffocated before he could be helped out.
The nearby Mammoth Ski Resort also suffered an avalanche on the morning of March 3. Fortunately, only 3 were partially buried, and all managed to dig themselves out of the snow. With a little less luck, however, many of these experiences could have turned out a lot worse. After a large snowfall, especially one created by a blizzard, perhaps staying off the slopes for several days is the best course of action. Better to lose a ski trip than your life!