Outdoors

Snowboarder survives terrifying ride on an avalanche near Whistler

A snowboarder who got an inflatable backpack for his birthday last month should thank his friends –it probably saved his life when he was caught in an avalanche near Whistler, B.C. on Wednesday morning.

Tom Oye, a transplant from Adelaide, Australia, posted a helmet-cam video of his terrifying ride in the backcountry near Brandywine Mountain on Facebook, where it has been watched more than 6 million times (warning: the video contains strong language).

Oye posted this with the video: “Not how I planned on starting the morning...stay safe out there kids!”

In an earlier Facebook post, Oye said he received an inflatable backpack as a gift for his birthday in December. A portion of the red inflatable backpack is visible in the video.

“The idea is to make you the biggest object and tumble you to the top in a big slide, provide a little trauma protection while your tumbling, and then create an air pocket if you do get buried,” Oye wrote.

David Cote, a snowmobile guide, told CBC News he was in the area and witnessed the tail end of the slide around 10 a.m. Cote was scouting for avalanche risk, which was moderate.

“You could just see him sort of on the surface,” Cote said. “It’s hard to say exactly if he would’ve been buried without (the backpack), but I think he’s quite lucky that he had the avalanche airbag on.”

Cote told CBC News it was a risky day to be in the backcountry.

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