Avalanche Accident In Engelberg


Avalanche Accident In Engelberg

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Avalanche Accident In Engelberg I Was Very Lucky

Avalanche Accident In Engelberg I Was Very Lucky

[Avalanche Accident In Engelberg]

Until March 20, 2011

I was sure. avalanches happen to other people. But not to me.

It was a wonderful blue sky powderday in Engelberg. We started with a few warm up runs..

Later on. I decided to ski a nice line…

I entered carefully to see how stable it was… then I decided to go…

Now in detail

I skied in from here carefully…dropping in

As I landed, a layer of snow broke away along the black line sliding snow the snow picked up speed and pulled a way my skis quickly

I didn’t hesitate and pulled my ABS Airbag System right away (you can’t see that in the movie)

The avalanche sucked me in. My bindings released. I struggled to stay on top.

Then, even faster descending snow covered me up.
I lost orientation.
I knew there was a cliff still to come.

It got pretty dark around me.
At some point I felt a short freefall and a hard. dull impact.
Then the terrain became flatter and the avalanche built up pressure.
Which was a really bad feeling. I still did not see any light.

Now I am here…

First I just tried to see light.
I shoveled away snow with me free hand…

Then I realized. that I am not breathing.
The fall took me breath away.
Also my mouth was full of snow.
Therefore the strange sounds…

I tried to move. but my back hurted.
I was able to move my toes.
I waited…

5 minutes later

Norbert dug me out and I rolled out of my hole

I could hardly move.
And lying on my belly was even more painful.
Norbert took off my Backback so I could sit on it…

…but besides kneeling up. I couldn’t imagin any other move.

Interesting Detail: Source: LYBIO.net
The ABS Bags are not fully inflated.

Already in the avalanche, the pressure cylinder together with the patendet ventile were not able to fully inflate them.
As ABS sais, the volume of one of the bags would be enough to carry up a body. Therefore, even like this, there was more than enough volume in the bags.

A few minutes later the Pistpatrol skied up to us.
They were very friendly.
After questions about casualities and witnesses.
they decided to call the REGA (Swiss Heli Rescue Organisation). because pain in the Spine is too delicate for a sledge transportation.

Shortly after that, the Heli flew in.
But because it was too steep it could not land. From the hovering Machine a Doctor stepped out.

She decided to put me in a net and fly with me to a flat surface on the Jochpass to load me in the Heli there.

I was flewn to the Hospital in Stans, where they X-Rayed my spine.

My first lumbar vertrebra was broken. I needed no operation. but had to wear an aluminum corset for eight weeks.

I was very lucky…

What I learned from this…

The best approach to avoid avalanches is the 3 × 3 Formula by Werner Munter.

Munter defines three levels to consider:


Regional level:

What does the avalanche report say?
What is the avalanche danger level of the region I want to ski in?

In Switzerland you can find this report on www.slf.ch


Local level:

Does the avalanche report apply to the local conditions?
How did Wind. Temperature and so on affect the local level?


Zonal Level:

What does the line I want do ski exactly look like?
What is the inclination. the exposition?
Has wind blown in snow?

That day the avalanche danger was set on level 3.
This is called “erheblich” in Switzerland.

Freeriding mostly happens on avalanche danger levels over level 2.
And level 3 alone does not mean one should not ski powder.

I ignored signs on level 2 and 3 of the Munter theory

First ignored sign on level 2

In the cablecar a local Skibum told me about slides and small avalanches in the “Steinberg” section.

Second ignored sign on level 2

In the previous runs that day, I set off small slides myself.

Ignored signs of level 3

Wind has transported snow into that zone I wanted to ski.

I could clearly see the signs of wind on the snow when I entered the line.

Of course I thought. that also lower down the snow was blown out and not blown in…

Why did I neglect those signs on level 2 and 3 of the Munter theory?

My mind knitted a curtain of oblivition for me.

First, it was probably the last powderday of the season.
So, the motto was: Take what you can.

Second, groupdynamics made me ride up to that line too eary and alone.

What I learned from being in the avalanche


Know your line. Know the area.
So, at the point the avalanche carries you away.
you know what is still to come.

This will not prevent you from anything.
but it is still a plus. since you can try to prepare for the descent and a fall.


About 30% of avalanche victims die during the descent.
Even state of the art protection can’t help you much in that situation.

If you are lucky enough to belong to the 70% of survivors of the descent. you definitely want your head to stick out of the avalanche when it stops.

The Avalanche Beacon. Probes and Shovels are good and you should always carry the.
But if I would have been covered up with no breath and snow in my mouth I would probably not sit here and write those lines…

You absolutely need an ABS or an equivalent system if you significantly want to rise your chances to survive.


Potential rescuers. which are your friends riding with you.
must be on the avalanche cone within a minute.

If you enter a delicate line you need them positioned in a way so they can be there fast.
At least on should wait on top. so he does not need to run up the cone.

I would like to thank: Source: LYBIO.net
Nobert for running fast and digging me out.
The friendly and helpful Ski Patrols in Engelberg.
The impressive REGA Team.
The caring Nurses and Doctors in Stans and Luzern.

Caribou – Sun
Dezarie – Eaze The Pain

Avalanche Accident in Engelberg

Avalanche Accident in Engelberg

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