Elyse Saugstad
watch story
“Elyse, Avalanche!”

Elyse: “… it was very shocking to find that one of the victims that we found was buried literally three feet to my left…  I fully believe that my ABS backpack saved my life. My thoughts and prayers are with those that lost their lives.”

And that’s what happened on February 19th 2012 at Stevens Pass, Washington state, USA:

Elyse is part of a group of about a dozen backcountry skiing experts who were hit by an avalanche while making their way through an out-of-bounds area near Stevens Pass.

At the top of the run the group goes through the typical backcountry skiing protocol and decides amongst other things to ski one by one. Elyse is the second skier to go when suddenly her skiing partner to her right starts screaming: “Elyse, Avalanche! Elyse, Avalanche!” At that time she is the one being swept in the avalanche…”

Four people are caught, three men are killed. Elyse manages to avoid being completely buried after deploying an airbag. "The avalanche felt very much like being in a washing machine, as I was tossed and turned this way and that way, having at times no idea what way was up or down. I was completely buried except for my head and hands. It took about ten minutes for the first person to show up to the scene and unbury me. ” Watch the TV interviews that were conducted right after the avalanche:

BBC News
CBS News

About Elyse

Elyse Saugstad is an American professional backcountry skier who was born in Girdwood, Alaska and lives in Olympic Valley, California.

She was the 2008 Freeride World Tour Champion and was nominated for Powder Video Award's “Best Female Performance” in 2010 & 2012. In 2012 she was voted Top 5 Female in Powder Magazine’s Readers’ Poll.

Since her avalanche accident she is dedicated to avalanche education and is teaching various avalanche classes in the US.