Originally Posted by RDNEK
9 feet deep for over 30 min...
If that is right i am thinkin of buying a avalung.
From the CAIC:
Rescue: Finding a person in avalanche debris through voice communication is possible, but unusual. Digging yourself out of 3' of avalanche debris and surviving a burial of 1 to 2 hours are both very, very unusual. There are several factors that probably contributed to the both unusual and positive outcome of this accident. First, the group's location at the time of the avalanche. They were near the bottom the slope and were not carried very far in the debris flow. This may have reduced the amount of compaction in the debris and made it easier to dig through the snow. Second, the nature of the avalanche debris. The group described the snow that they dug through as sugary and loose. This probably allowed Boarder-2 to extricate himself from the debris and help the other group members. This probably also helped them speak to each other and breath under the snow once they had stopped using their AvaLungs. In general avalanche debris becomes very dense and it is difficult to move any portion of your body. Boarder-3 described the snow directly around his body as firm and wet, but the snow in general as sugary and loose. Third, the group was well equipped. Although the group's decisions on their route and the avalanche danger in the area certainly contributed to this accident, they were well equipped and this likely saved their lives. The AvaLungs probably assisted or allowed for their self rescue, and they all carried beacons, probe poles, and shovels as well.
Outcome: The bottom line is that three backcountry users were completely buried, they self rescued, all three victims wore AvaLungs (used them) and are here to tell their story!
Accidents: Colorado - CAIC: Colorado Avalanche Information Center
This doesn't change the fact that I am now going to get an avalung as well, but keep in mind most avalanches don't work out like this.