Verbier resident Victor Liebenguth was snowboarding near Col du Creblet on Jan. 30 when the worst happened — mounds of powdery snow slid down the side of the mountain, trapping two female sports enthusiasts under its weight.
With a camera attached to his helmet, Liebenguth approached where one of the athletes was trapped, quickly digging the first woman out from under the snow.
In the harrowing footage, originally shared on Liebenguth’s Instagram account, the woman can be heard saying: “Find my friend.”
Her companion was buried 70 metres downhill from her.
As “the first on-site,” Liebenguth and his group of friends immediately started to do “beacon research” to find others buried under the snow.
A beacon check refers to a life-saving technique that allows first responders to pick up on peoples’ locations when they’re buried or not immediately visible. Beacon devices can be worn in a harness or in a pocket, according to Outdoor Research.
“Unfortunately two girls were snowboarding in the middle of the face and the avalanche hit them so hard,” he wrote in the Instagram caption for the video.
Right after saving the second person, another avalanche hit, trapping a third person. Liebenguth and his friends rushed to their aid, saving yet another life that day.
“While digging out the girls, people around continued to ski in every direction and the inevitable happened,” he wrote. “ second avalanche hit the area and a third person got in it.”
The three were all quickly saved, but the situation, Liebenguth wrote on Instagram, calls for skiers and snowboarders to be more mindful of where they are.
“@Verbier is the free-ride mecca and everyone riding outside the slopes should have the right equipment, get informed of the conditions and more importantly get trained to mountain safety with institutes like @istaeducation to have the right reflex and knowledges ,” he continued.
There are around 20 to 30 avalanche-related deaths in Switzerland every year, and 90 per cent of these happen during backcountry touring.
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