'This was very close': Snowmobiler hopes avalanche video raises awareness for snow safety
An avid snowmobiler from Alberta hopes a video he posted online will raise awareness for snowmobile safety – after he was caught in an avalanche on a B.C. slope over the weekend.
Terry Freeman told CTV News he was sledding with a group near Tumbler Ridge, B.C. on Saturday, they had been climbing slopes on one side of a valley – and he decided to ride on the other side.
Freeman said he talked to some others riding in the area, who said the snow on the other side was “great” – and he climbed it a couple of times, before heading to an area that appeared untouched.
Moments into his climb, the snow started sliding – and every second was recorded on his helmet camera.
The next day, Freeman posted the video online – saying in the post that he initially didn’t want to share it and worry loved ones, but: “After much discussion, we decided that the information is too important to not share with present, and future, sledders.”
“I didn’t do a good enough assessment of the area, and I know it said on my post that I didn’t seen any indicators, but after reading comments from people, I see them now,” Freeman said in an interview with CTV News. “It was a mistake to go there.”
Freeman said he’s watched the video “well over a hundred times” since the slide, and said the signs were there, and he could see them now – which is why he wanted to posted it. The video was posted on Facebook February 7, and has been shared thousands of times, viewed more than 300,000 times.
In most cases, Freeman said he looks at how steep a slope is, and looks for an overhang of snow at the top – in this case, he had already climbed nearby, and assumed that it would still be safe.
“Just because something at the surface looks pretty safe, doesn’t mean that it is,” Freeman said.
He told CTV News he had watched some avalanche safety courses online, but admits now that isn’t the same as training. Freeman said he’s had a snowmobile his whole life, and started sledding in the mountains about ten years ago.
He said he’s still coming to grips with what happened.
“Hasn’t really sunk in, starting to sink in now,” Freeman said. “At the moment, when it was happening, I thought it was a crevasse that had opened up in front of me.
“I didn’t for the life of me think that was what was going to slide.”
He hopes other snowmobilers take his experience as a lesson in being safe when sledding on the mountain.
“Really, do a good analysis of your ride,” Freeman said.
“I want people to realize that just because it’s not really steep, doesn’t mean it’s not going to let go on you. Get out, get the training, it’s amazing how fast it happens.”