'After a while, I couldn't fight anymore': B.C. skier reflects on surviving avalanche

A 25-year-old skier from Fernie says he's lucky to be alive after he was caught in an avalanche in the backcountry near Golden.

On March 12, Caleb Brown was skiing out of bounds near Kicking Horse Mountain Resort with friend Pete Basaraba, when an avalanche carried him one-and-a-half kilometres and knocked him unconscious.

"It took me for a very violent ride. I was fighting for my life," Brown told Radio West guest host Josh Pagé.

Brown says he regularly skis in the backcountry and has taken avalanche training.

He went out despite noticing several "red flags" for avalanches like warming temperatures and changing weather.

"We dug a snow study pit to test the snow and it seemed solid. The pit gave us a false sense of security," he said. "I ski-cut the slope as a final test, but again, it seemed solid.

"Four turns later, the entire slope broke away."

'I couldn't fight anymore'

As Brown was being carried away, he tried to fight, but it felt like an eternity under the snow.

"After a while, I couldn't fight anymore. I lost a bunch of oxygen," he said. "Near the end, I couldn't feel my arms anymore. I went into this very euphoric state."

He passed out. When he regained consciousness, he says he was sitting upright with nothing but his boots buried.

"When I was sitting there watching the clouds, it was something like I had never seen … before," he said.

He had torn his MCL, a knee ligament, in the avalanche. Fortunately, Basaraba found him and they were able to ski out together.

'I would've died really peacefully'

Brown says he doesn't remember much of the trip down. He was focused on finding light but his thoughts strayed to his mother and Basaraba at the top.

"I felt really bad for putting him in that situation. "If I would've died that day, I would've died really peacefully," he said. "It definitely wouldn't have been a peaceful experience for Pete to find me and everyone back home."

Brown says he and Basaraba knew they shouldn't have been on the mountain that day but ignored the danger signs and went anyway.

He says he has a view of avalanche danger now he didn't have before and plans on being more careful in the future.

With files from CBC Radio One's Radio West

To hear the full story, click the audio labelled: 'After a while, I couldn't fight anymore': B.C. skier reflects on surviving avalanche