Picture Credit: CEN
A skier buried in snow by an avalanche has been saved by an English-speaking man who managed to dig him out just moments before he suffocated to death.
The skiing accident happened at the Moelltal Glacier, a popular ski resort near the municipality of Flattach in the Austrian state of Carinthia.
The 24-year-old Austrian skier triggered an avalanche in open terrain off the piste and was dragged along in the snow-flow.
A police spokesman said: “He was completely buried by the avalanche except for his right forearm.”
The local skier was lucky that another freerider, a skier or snowboarder who prefers to ski on natural and un-groomed terrain instead of demarcated pistes, saw the accident happening.
Operations manager Adi Gugganig of the local cable car company saw the accident unfold as by sheer luck he was out in the area for a regular check on the cable railway.
The police spokesman said: “The man had his face freed from the snow by an unknown English-speaking freerider in the area so that he could be dug out by an employee of the Moelltal cable cars who arrived shortly afterwards with shovels.”
“The victim remained uninjured in the incident and was able to ride independently into the valley.”
The skier later told the cops that he thought he lived through his last moments before the English-speaking skier arrived.
He told the cops: “My mouth was full of snow, I could not breathe – I thought I was dying!”
Police inspector Christian Lackner agreed that without the unnamed English skier and cable car operations manager Gugganig it would have taken much longer to rescue the victim.
Lackner said: “Also colleagues from the Salzburg alpine police, who were on exercise in the area, saw what happened and immediately raised the alarm. They believed they could reach the buried person in about 20 minutes.”
The police inspector said that the skier told him that he saw no avalanche risks when looking at the area before he set off on the slope.
Lackner warned: “One should not rely on that. You can still trigger an avalanche.”