(ABC News)–An experienced skier was buried alive on Crystal Mountain in Washington
Monday when more than 3 feet of snow triggered an avalanche in the area
where she was skiing.
Emily Anderson was buried beneath the avalanche for up to 15 minutes,
according to Crystal Mountain ski patrol director Paul Baugher.
Baugher said that the area had received 40 inches of snow in about 35
hours Sunday and Monday, and when a small section of terrain was opened
to expert skiers, dozens of ski patrols and avalanche control staff were
sent to the site.
“In a big storm like this we have a little place, a little pocket like
this … and this person and her party triggered this small little
pocket in this innocuous place,” Baugher said.
“Because of a lot of good things, you had not only the ski patrol, which
was out there doing avalanche control work, but they were
pre-positioned with equipment. We always watch while the first skiing
gets done … just in case there's an 'oops,' because you can never get
the risk to zero.”
When Anderson was overtaken by the rushing snow, her fellow skiers
realized she was missing and used a cell phone to call the ski patrol
dispatcher, a phone number they had saved before embarking on their
Within five minutes a ski patrol member showed up to assist the skiers in searching for their friend, Baugher said.
Baugher said that ski patrol members were specially trained in where to
look for survivors of an avalanche immediately after it occurs. The
patrol member instructed Anderson's friends in how to use their poles to
search specific areas for signs of her.
“We had a guy on the scene in five minutes, and he was able to organize
the good inbound powder skiers, who had collapsible probe poles, and
they figured out where to start probing, and then, boom, this gal was
found,” Baugher said. “She spent maybe 10 to 15 minutes under the snow.
She came out just great, she really did.”
Anderson was not carrying an avalanche beacon with her at the time, although members of her party were.
Two other skiers were partially buried in the avalanche but were able to free themselves, Baugher said.
Anderson skied down the mountain herself after her ordeal.
“It was a great outcome because we were prepared and the guys that ski
this terrain were prepared too. They carried all the right equipment and
kept everyone in sight, and they knew the number. It was a great
combination,” Baugher said.
Copyright 2012 by ABC News