Professional freerider Aymar Navarro survives avalanche in Aran Valley


"It was January 25, 2013 and it had been snowing for days in the Aran Valley. The snow cover was more than 4 meters deep. That day we had a warm, cloudless day! The conditions were just fantastic for filming and skiing, but the snow pack was also a bit unstable on steep terrain. We had looked at several areas to film, and finally decided on the least exposed and less steep terrain.

The 3 cameramen, the mountain guide and I were all ready to go when the helicopter arrived. We then took off from the Beret parking lot and flew over the area where I was to make the descent ....

They left me on the ridge where I had to walk a few meters to get to my run. I put on my skis, checked my ABS® backpack and then they signaled me from the helicopter where the cameraman Nil Torremocha was filming.

3, 2, 1 drop, then a few turns, when suddenly I noticed that the snow pack under me was breaking very quickly. I leaned back and went straight down to pass the avalanche, but it was already very, very big and getting bigger every second.

I went straight down for a few feet until the avalanche swallowed me up. I remember I started tomahawking down the mountain without stopping. I was aware that a very large avalanche had caught me, and I just thought that I needed to activate my ABS backpack somehow. I was able to do so quickly and stopped moving shortly thereafter! But just a few seconds later, another part of the avalanche hit me, and I was racing back down the mountain. The most incredible thing was that I was always on top of the avalanche thanks to the two balloons that opened when I released my backpack, and they also protected me from many impacts and possible injuries.... I just hoped it would stop! And it did stop - I was buried up to my chest, but my head was clear and I could breathe perfectly.

The helicopter quickly located me and the guide quickly came to dig me out as I was unable to extricate myself from the avalanche debris on my own.

In the end, it was all just a very scary experience and a very good lesson from which I learned a lot.