'Like being hit by a swimming pool': Snowboarder recalls how avalanche slammed into him, threw him into trees

·3 min read
Backcountry snowboard veteran Tamo Campos holds his battered board up while he recovers in hospital after being swept into trees by an avalanche on Hollyburn Mountain in West Vancouver, B.C., on Jan. 3. (Tamo Campos - image credit)
Backcountry snowboard veteran Tamo Campos holds his battered board up while he recovers in hospital after being swept into trees by an avalanche on Hollyburn Mountain in West Vancouver, B.C., on Jan. 3. (Tamo Campos - image credit)

An experienced backcountry snowboarder is thanking North Shore Rescue for saving him after an avalanche threw him into a stand of trees last week, leaving him with several injuries.

Tamo Campos was in an out-of-bounds area near Hollyburn Mountain, close to the Cypress Mountain Resort in West Vancouver, B.C., that he says he's visited many times over around 30 years.

He told CBC News he was snowboarding with a friend and was prepared with avalanche gear — but being familiar with the area didn't save him from the avalanche that slammed into him last Monday.

"It felt almost like being hit by a swimming pool, like you weren't going to move against it, and everything went all white," Campos told CBC's On The Coast.

"I was getting kind of just funnelled down through the trees. And then, next thing, boom, I hit that tree really hard and my whole body kind of folded around it and and my snowboard was ripped off."

He described being in a "whole lot of pain" but luckily his friend, who hadn't been caught in the avalanche, was able to get down to him quickly and dig him out.

"That's kind of where we started to make a game plan of how to get out of there, and how to deal with the pain and then what the injury potentially was," Campos said.

North Shore Rescue
North Shore Rescue

The friends contacted North Shore Rescue, who managed to get him to safety using a stretcher and ropes.

Campos said he is grateful he "had a good crew up there with me, as well as the fabulous folks at North Shore Rescue."

High avalanche danger in alpine

Avalanche Canada says there will be an elevated risk of avalanches in alpine areas this week across B.C., and advises people to check its daily forecasts.

The South Coast's alpine elevations are currently rated as "considerable" avalanche danger, but are forecast to become high risk on Tuesday and Wednesday.

An Avalanche Canada spokesperson warned its forecasts are no substitute for watching constantly changing conditions on the slopes.

"The conditions change continuously throughout the winter, so places you might be familiar with where you've never seen an avalanche before ... are prone to having avalanches run in them," said forecast supervisor Mark Bender.

"The avalanche forecast is just a basis, it's just a starting point. But that doesn't mean that it necessarily represents what's happening while you're actually out there."

Campos, who suffered a fractured knee and shoulder and lower back pain, said he is "feeling like I just came out of a human blender."

He has a warning for fellow boarders: Be careful on the slopes, even if you think you know the terrain.

"It's just so important to be prepared and it's not just your avalanche gear, but also having a good team and just always being prepared for the worst," Campos said. "And that's something that we we forget, sometimes especially riding for decades and decades.

"Be safe out there. It's a dangerous snow pack that's there this year."

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting