Snowboarder Survives After Falling Headfirst Into Tree Well @ Mount Bachelor

Snowboarder Survives After Falling Headfirst Into Tree Well @ Mount Bachelor

Skiing

Snowboarder Survives After Falling Headfirst Into Tree Well @ Mount Bachelor

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Cautionary tale from a Bend, Oregon woman who is lucky to be alive after falling into a tree well while snowboarding on Mount Bachelor. Central Oregon Daily reports Francesca McLean was snowboarding with her husband and two friends on Friday. They were riding down Outback when she made a turn a few feet off the groomed run and fell backwards headfirst into a tree well.

“Initially, I panicked. I was moving around. It took a few seconds to realize I was in a tree well and to settle down. There was this battle inside myself over freaking out or calming down. I took a deep breath. The snow was light enough I was able to move my left arm and I was able to scoop the snow out of my mouth and make a little pocket of air.”

McLean was able to yell for help and fortunately one of her friends was nearby and heard her faint cries:

“He took his skis off. He yelled ‘Can you breathe?’ What I thought I heard was ‘Can you hear me?’ He started unstrapping my legs and that made me panic a little. Why was I not getting out?”

McLean’s isn’t sure how long she was in the tree well but thinks it was five minutes. By the time her friend dug her out she was gasping for breath.

“Whenever someone goes off the groomed trail, tree well immersion can be an issue especially during early season like now.We’ve had a good three or four feet of snow and it hasn’t had time to compact whether it be by sun, by skiers and riders or by grooming machines. So therefore it can be low density and a bit more of an issue.” -Mt. Bachelor Director of Marketing & Communication, Johnny Sereni

Francesca wants to warn other of the dangers of tree wells and we echo her sentiment. Know the signs of tree well dangers and always ride with a partner and keep within line of sight if tree wells are present (MORE INFO BELOW).

Here’s a Sobering demonstration of tree well dangers from CHM Heli. Always remember to avoid tree wells and keep your ski partners in sight when they are present. 

Whitefish Ski Patrol explains what tree wells are and how to avoid them: 

A tree well/snow immersion suffocation safety lesson from deepsnowsafety.org:

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