It was a perfect winter day: blue sky, fresh snow. The Spanish freeskier Aymar Navarro was on the 2,802-meter Tuc de Barloguera for a film shoot, together with a film team and a helicopter. Aymar remembers: “It had snowed non-stop in the preceding days; another 30 centimeters had fallen overnight. Then this great weather arrived – perfect conditions for our shoot!” Together with a mountain guide, the team decided on a flatter slope that they felt was safe, in order to minimize the risk as far as possible.
Aymar then began his descent. The camera crew filmed his ride from the helicopter flying above him. Aymar recalls: “I had made just a few turns when I realized that the snow cover below me was starting to move.” The freerider immediately tried to move away from the mass of snow, but the avalanche was too fast. It was suddenly a scene of life or death: with Aymar in the lead role.
The avalanche hit him with its full force: “I started to roll over again and again. (…) My first thought was that I needed to trigger this airbag. I curled up a little to try to absorb the impacts; an impossible task because you don’t know where you are or which way is up or down. You also don’t know how long it will last. You can only hope and pray that you will come out of it ok.”
When the avalanche finally came to a stop, the masses of snow became considerably more compressed. However, Aymar Navarro had remained on the surface and was able to breathe without any difficulty. The team in the helicopter managed to locate the young freeskier very rapidly and free him from the avalanche. Aymar explains: “The airbag kept me on the surface and protected me from injuries.”
Aymar Navarro survived the huge avalanche in the Pyrenees unscathed except for a few scratches. He believes that it will be possible to prevent even more deaths in the future. “Unfortunately not all my colleagues use airbags.” In particular, he urges beginners wishing to follow his example to take things slowly. This is because, regardless of their skiing ability, they must be capable of recognizing risks on the mountain. He believes that avalanche backpacks are a remarkable tool: “But this doesn’t mean that you are immortal.”
You can watch the video of Aymar’s avalanche experience here from October 8, 2013:
About the ABS TwinBag:
A quick tug on the activation handle for the ABS® TwinBag system is all it takes to instantly inflate two airbags with a total volume of 170 liters. This extra volume will almost certainly prevent the wearer being buried. Thanks to the “Brazil nut effect”, large particles always remain on the surface of a moving granular medium such as snow. The TwinBags at the side stabilize and protect the body. The two separate airbags make the system twice as as reliable. If one airbag is damaged by the masses of snow during the descent, the other will remain inflated for a sufficient length of time. Activated TwinBags always allow clear lines of sight and complete freedom of movement. The ABS system has proven its effectiveness in several hundred actual cases.
The ABS Peter Aschauer GmbH is a dynamically growing and owner managed company dedicated to avalanche safety borne out of passion for winter sports. The ABS avalanche airbag is the original and market leader with sales in more than 25 countries worldwide. In the case of an avalanche it can prevent burial and therefore significantly increase the chances of survival. Innovation and commitment to highest quality standards ‘made in Germany’ are the essential factors for our long-term success.