Colorado avalanche survivor shares video of escape

Local News

LOVELAND, Colo. (KDVR) — An avalanche survivor shared a video of his narrow escape near Loveland as officials warn about avalanche dangers in current Colorado weather conditions.

Snowboarder Maurice Kervin ventured out for a backcountry ski day with his friend nearly a year ago, on Jan. 8.

The video captures the moments when the mountain around him started cracking.

“The whole world kind of came down, that was sort of a realization afterwards but in the moment, it was very real, very quick, it didn’t take very long,” Kervin said. “I kept trying to ride out for as long as I could and when I realized my feet were going under the snow, I threw my airbag which deployed properly and allowed me to float the rest of the way down the mountain.”

Kervin says he had about 30 to 40 pounds of avalanche and safety gear in his backpack. He credits preparation, experience and safety tools for how he managed to walk out unharmed.

A beacon training park outside Minturn gives anyone the opportunity to practice using avalanche transceivers, a critical piece of safety equipment for winter backcountry exploration.

“Record numbers of people venturing into the backcountry, and the need for winter backcountry safety education is higher than ever,” Eagle-Holy Cross District Ranger Leanne Veldhuis said. “Avalanche transceivers are key to finding avalanche victims as soon as possible, but they are only effective if people know how to use them.”

The White River National Forest’s avalanche beacon training park, about a quarter-mile from the Interstate 70 Minturn exit, can be accessed from the Mountain Meadow Trailhead on U.S. 24.

Multiple search scenarios can be created with eight buried transmitters, which can be turned on and off from a small control panel, giving users an opportunity to get familiar with using their avalanche transceivers and probing the snow for victims.

“Beacon parks have traditionally been located at ski areas, where general public access may be limited
to pass holders,” Veldhuis said. “This accessible public location should help encourage more people to
become proficient using avalanche transceivers, which can help save lives.”

Avoiding an avalanche in the first place is the best strategy, according to the National Forest Service. Check the avalanche forecast before heading into the backcountry. The White River National Forest has more information about being safe in the backcountry this winter.

The Colorado Avalanche Information Center and the forest service developed the self-operating system open all day at the park.

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