When it comes to getting caught in an avalanche, the most crucial thing to do besides trying to swim out and stay on top is to create an air pocket from which to breath.
Thankfully, David Rovs’ Ruroc helmet did that naturally and according to him– saved his life. Rovs also credited his beacon and friend, Xavi as being equally important in the rescue effort. He was buried over 6 feet deep for roughly 7 minutes. His full story is listed below.
Thank you Ruroc, your helmet saved my life.
Until Saturday the 4th the mountains had granted me with sunny beautiful days during the summer, beautiful bluebird days during the winter, it had tested me with storms and wind and snow but overall the mountains allowed me to experience amazing adventures. Their beauty is unmeasurable. They are magnificent. Nature is magnificent. It is pure. But nature is untamable. Even the most tamed lion at some point will show its true self. It will rip you apart without hesitation. It only takes nature one second to take a life and believe me it tried.
While splitboarding during a three day backcountry trip the mountain decided to show its true identity. We measured the risk. It was the safest rout. I was the second to drop in. But still, a second after I started my line the mountain cracked over me and within seconds I was pulled with immense brute force by an avalanche. I didn’t have the speed or the visibility to escape from its claws. I looked down and reality hit me. I was balancing at great speed floating on a sea of cracked icebergs, as if the mountain beneath me had turned into small irregular islands. I couldn’t do anything. It dragged me down and pushed me like I was dirt. The avalanche engulfed me effortlessly as would the ocean swallow a sinking ship. The pressure of the snow felt like water crushing a submarine on extremely deep waters. I had my beacon with me and I had my Ruroc but I didn’t have an airbag system, instead I had an anchor, my splitboard. It buried me without mercy. Twice I screamed for help knowing no one could hear me. I was on the verge of agonizing and suddenly and against all odds I didn’t panic. I realized your face mask prevented snow from blocking my mouth and nose. It prevented me from experiencing immediate agony. Only one thought came to my mind: “If I panic I will die. Buy them time”.
My heart was pounding. It felt like my heart was trying to leave my chest. I closed my eyes and focused on my breathing. Inhale, exhale, inhale and exhale. Slowly and with care. I couldn’t afford to be nervous and waste energy. My life was on the hands of those who came with me to that spot. One, a close friend, the remaining six I had met the day before. Now, good friends. On the mountain we all look for one another, we take care of each other. We have fun but we also have responsibilities towards one another. And so it happened. Xavi, the one responsible for looking over me during my line did exactly that. He saw the avalanche drag me. He screamed avalanche as if his life depended on it. He stayed focus on me. At that time there was a cloud of fog over us. He spotted where I disappeared and rushed down to find me. He didn’t loose sight of that spot. It is extremely easy to loose a reference point in snowy foggy mountains. He didn’t. It took him several minutes to find the exact location and started digging, alone. The pressure he had must have been immense. There was little to no visibility so the others couldn’t see what was going on. Moments later they found him and started digging too. It took them approximately seven minutes to reach my head, which was buried two meters deep, approximately 6.6 feet. Before reaching my head I didn’t feel or hear anything. I didn’t feel how they found me, how they dug my leg and board out, how they were telling me they were there, nothing. My body, my senses, had shut down. I wasn’t present. Somehow it felt like my body triggered a safe mechanism and kept breathing ever so slightly. I believe I was breathing because I was wearing my Ruroc. The wall that your face mask created between my face and the concrete like snow made all the difference. There was little to no oxygen but it gave me the chance to breathe. It bought me time. When they took my googles I felt a ray of sun hit me, I started to hear voices and suddenly my body revived taking an enormous chunk of air. It filled my lungs. They had found me. And so adrenaline came to play. I was alive, I was breathing! I was excited, exuberant and happy! They were too, one could only imagine. It took them a while to dig me out completely but we made it.
The toughest part came after with shivers and mistakes, I wasn’t at my finest. My friends took great care of me and rapidly gave me new clothes and food. We were in contact with emergency services and I spoke with them. We decided to cancel my rescue by helicopter, it would have taken time we didn’t have. We were still in harms way. It was mandatory we left that spot. It was the second avalanche, the first one happened right before us minutes before the second one hit me. Who knew if more could come. We could softly hear the mountain warn us: boom, boom… The ground beneath us trembled. It was an endeavor to get back on my split, put my skins, climb back up and go back down to reach the cabin or refuge where we were staying so I could recover and rest, but that’s another story.
When playing with nature be smart, be observant and be safe. It will never happen to you until it does.
I am alive because my friends executed a perfect rescue procedure. Those who ski with you are the first line of defense. Without them this would be a different story.
This being said, your helmet was a key element for my survival and for this I thank you! Proud to own a Ruroc.
Find out more about these helmets here: Ruroc – Full Face Winter Sports Helmets