Tyler Karow and his friend Matt didn’t have a ton of backcountry experience when they were hiking Mt. Whitney in the spring of 2017 to ski the Mountaineer’s Couloir. Tyler had just completed his first avalanche class a few months earlier. But emergencies don’t let you choose when they happen.
As Karrow and his friend were climbing, an avalanche struck two hikers in front of them burying one in the deep, heavy snow. “Less than an hour into the approach, a wet avalanche (mainly ice and dense snow) was naturally triggered by the sun around noon,” wrote Karrow on his YouTube page. “We were directly in the path of the slide and ran for cover behind a huge boulder about 30 feet away from us. Two men in front of us were directly hit by the slide and one was missing after we came out from behind the boulder. We found him partially buried under a refrigerator sized block of ice after a brief search. We dug him out, search and rescue came, and he got helicoptered out due to an ankle or leg injury. Matt and I continued up, camped around 12,000 ft, summited the next day, and I skied the couloir.”
Tyler just recently released the video to YouTube and it’s a fine example of keeping one’s head during an emergency. In fact, it probably helped save a man’s life that day on the famous California peak.