– I alternated between floating down with my head and feet first, being buried by the snow and being pulled to the surface. I saw nothing but the direction the light was coming from, probably because my eyes were constantly filled with snow.
Calvin Shackleton described the intense minutes he experienced when he and four other freeriders were crushed by an avalanche in Malangen on Sunday.
With himself blog Any experienced freerider and mountaineer describe how the experience is brought about by an avalanche.
Shackleton has granted permission to Dagbladet to reproduce part of the content, as well as use the images. Northern lights mention the blog post first.
Mouth full of snow
On a Sunday afternoon, Shackleton and four of his friends were on their way up the mountain. The traveler had made careful weather and wind assessments, and he wrote that their general assessment was that the snow was steady and they were not experiencing any distress signals. But then they got to the top.
– Then the wind suddenly blew and started blowing snow from the side. The loose snow began to flow down the slope, he wrote.
Before long, it escalated, and suddenly became more dramatic than they had imagined.
– The first wave of snow drifting down becomes more intense. I could hear the sound of snow thunder getting louder only seconds before I was carried away. I didn’t understand the extent of the danger until I was dragged down the mountainside. Everything happened so fast.
– I felt completely helpless when I was pulled down by the snow. It felt like I was drowning, and my nose and mouth were completely covered with snow.
Waiting to be destroyed
As he slid down the mountainside, wrapped in a huge pile of snow, Shackleton thought of ways to avoid the sharp mountain edges that could hit him.
– I’m constantly waiting for me to hit something, or get hit on a rock. My main idea is to try to keep my feet up first, so they can take the biggest hit when I hit, he wrote.
As the avalanche gradually diminished in strength, the 30-year-old man came out. He quickly got acquainted and picked up the phone to call his wife and ask her for help.
The only thing Shackleton was interested in was finding his four friends. Due to the adrenaline rush, he didn’t realize he was injured, he wrote.
Freerider further wrote that he saw the two people and shouted at them that they should wave if they were okay. As he gradually became clear that everything was going well with them, he looked at someone else.
– He was not completely buried, but partially buried with his head first down the slope. I pulled it out and flipped it over so it didn’t tip over, he wrote and continued:
– I saw that he was having difficulty breathing, so I put my finger in his mouth and tried to expel the snow to free the airways. He bit my finger a few times while I was doing this.
The 30-year-old made sure his friend was breathing and conscious before continuing his search for his final companion.
He wrote that in the end it turned out that he was not dragged as far as the others, and he was further up the avalanche.
Freerider, who is now out of hospital, ended his blog post by thanking the rescue workers profusely for the work they did.
– It’s hard to fully express how grateful I am. Thank you.
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