A snowboarder rescued from being buried alive in the heavy snow in a viral clip has spoken for the first time about his dramatic encounter with death.
Ian Steger said he feared he would never be able to tell his fiancee he loved her again after being plunging into a tree covered in snow in Washington state on March 3.
Steger was rescued by chance after skier Francis Zuber saw his board sticking out of the snow in an astonishing clip that has since gone viral.
Viewers were in awe of Steger’s calm response to saving his life as him is heard saying to Zuber, “Thanks for that, man.”
A skier stumbled upon a snowboarder buried in a tree covered in snow in Washington State and was able to dig them out in a remarkable rescue that was caught on video
Now the two men on screen have reunited to discuss the March 3 incident.
“You can see in that video that Francis asked if I was okay.” Steger said ABC7.
“He let me know he was coming to see me. I haven’t heard of that.
“It was complete darkness. I could only hear, you know, the sound of my own breathing.’
Experts have said Steger would have died had he not been discovered by Zuber.
“One of the things I thought about when I was down there was like, wow, I’m going to die here and I won’t be able to, you know, tell my fiancée how much I love her,” Steger said.
The snowboarder was trapped in a tree pit at Mt Baker ski area.
Zuber was skiing in the same section when he started catching himself in deep powder.
He was able to get himself out, but brakes quickly before taking off when he sees a snowboard sticking out of the deep snow.
Tell the experience ABC7Zuber said, “I caught a little red flash out of the corner of my eye.
“And I knew it was kind of weird to see because we’re off track. I knew something was wrong. You know, I yelled at him, but no response.’
In the original music video, Zuber is heard asking Steger, “Are you okay?”
Francis Zuber was skiing at the Mt. Baker Ski Area in the state’s northwest when he started catching himself in deep powder
He can get himself out, but then he brakes quickly before taking off when he sees a snowboard sticking out of the deep snow
Zuber quickly removes his skis so he can maneuver to the tree pit – the space around a tree under the branches that doesn’t get the same amount of snow as the surrounding open space – and try to save the snowboarder
He quickly removes his skis so he can maneuver to the tree pit – the space around a tree under its branches that doesn’t get the same amount of snow as the surrounding open space – and try to rescue the snowboarder.
Zuber digs with his hands and exclaims, “Wait a minute, I’m coming!”
He eventually digs out enough of the snowboarder so that he can see his head covered in goggles as his arm swings slowly
He eventually digs out enough of the snowboarder for him to see his head covered in goggles as his arm slowly swings.
‘Are you OK? Can you hear me?’ he asks, as some more snow begins to fall and Zuber continues to dig.
Finally, he is able to reach the snowboarder’s face and hears the buried man take a deep breath.
He says, “Thanks,” to which Zuber replies, “Yeah, no problem.”
“Okay, you’re good, I got you,” says Zuber. “Okay, we’re both going to catch our breath, then I’m going to help you dig it out, okay?”
Zuber starts building and digging an emergency shovel and is finally able to get the snowboarder out.
He ended up recounting the whole experience in an Instagram post that has already garnered more than 2,000 likes.
Finally, Zuber is able to reach the snowboarder’s face and hears the buried man take a deep breath
Zuber starts building and digging an emergency shovel and is finally able to get the snowboarder out
Zuber eventually recounted the entire experience in an Instagram post that has already garnered more than 2,000 likes
“Tree resources are real,” he wrote. “If you ski or snowboard, take a moment to look. This happened a few weeks ago at @themtbakerskiarea.’
“The mountains don’t care how much skill or experience you have. They don’t even care if you and your skiing partners are doing everything right,” Zuber continued.
He also recommended that people take a class that will help them understand what to do in situations like the one he found himself in.
“I’m thankful I knew just enough to come along and pull off a successful rescue,” Zuber said.
“And always look out for each other out there.”
The snowboarder at risk has not been named or identified.
Zuber added more details about the snowboarder in the comments section of his viral post a few days ago.
“One detail I wanted to add that isn’t entirely clear in the video is that the snowboarder who was buried was with another group,” he said. “All very experienced riders, with proper avy gear and walkie-talkies.”
“They took a route through the trees, intending to meet on the other side, something we’ve all done countless times. It was pure coincidence that I met him.’
Tree pits are one reason the U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service recommends that skiers or snowboarders always go with a partner.