There’s always a chance of it happening: snowboarders and skiers, filming in the backcountry, riding wild snow in wild places getting caught in avalanches. It happened to snowboarder Brock Crouch in 2018. Freeride World Tour athletes Estelle Balet and Matilda Rapaport perished in separate slides while filming in 2016. It’s part of the game.
Professional skier Nick McNutt revealed on Instagram this week that he was caught in a nasty avalanche while filming for a Teton Gravity Research production. McNutt, who’s from Squamish, British Columbia and has navigated these situations before, chose a complicated pillow line near Pemberton, when something went terribly wrong: “I eyed up this nice-looking pillow rib line and to my misfortune, up high on the run, I broke a pillow off that sent hard chunks barreling down the gulley I was planning on exiting. As I finished the line, the chunks redirected me through trees and smashed me onto the lake, burying me 120cm down.”
McNutt was buried under nearly four feet of snow for “minutes” while he waited for rescue. During the trauma of the slide, his avalanche beacon was smashed into the off position, so he wasn’t giving off a signal. A “lucky strike” from an avalanche probe and his rescuers found him. But his arm was badly broken and he says he was coughing up blood from internal injuries (you can see him get bounced violently against a tree in the video). He had to wait for two hours before being flown out to Vancouver. But he’s now alive and safe. “I can’t thank the crew that was there enough,” he said. “I owe you my life.”