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Professional freerider Aymar Navarro survives avalanche in Aran valley


"It was January 25, 2013, and it had been snowing in the Aran Valley for days. The snowpack was more than 10 feet deep. On this day we had a warm, cloudless day! The conditions were just fantastic for filming and skiing, but the snowpack was also a bit unstable in steep terrain. We had looked at different areas for filming, and finally we decided on the least exposed and less steep terrain.

The 3 camera men, the mountain guide and myself were all ready when the heli arrived. We then took off from the parking lot of Beret and overflew the area where I was supposed to do the descent ….

They left me on the ridge where I had to walk a few meters to get to my run. I put on my skis, checked my ABS® backpack and then they gave me the signal from the helicopter where the cameraman Nil Torremocha was filming.

3, 2, 1 dropping, then a few turns when I suddenly realized that the whole face was cracking very quickly. I leaned back and went straight down in order to overtake the avalanche but it already was very, very big and getting bigger every second.

I went straight down a few meters until the avalanche swallowed me. I remember that I started to tomahawk down the mountain without stopping. I was aware that a very big avalanche had hit me and I just thought that I had to activate my ABS backpack somehow. I was quickly able to do so and stopped moving shortly after! But only a few seconds later another part of the avalanche hit me and I raced down the mountain again. The most incredible thing was that I was always on top of the avalanche, thanks to the two balloons that opened when the backpack was released, and they also protected me from many impacts and possible injuries... I just hoped that it would stop! And it stopped - I was buried up to my chest, but my head was clear and I could breathe perfectly. 

The helicopter located me quickly and the guide came quickly to dig me out as I wasn’t able to get out of the avalanche debris on my own.

At the end it all was only a very scary experience and a very good lesson I have learned a lot from.