HomeOutdoorsViralWATCH: Professional Skier Films Himself Trapped in Terrifying Avalanche in Wyoming

WATCH: Professional Skier Films Himself Trapped in Terrifying Avalanche in Wyoming

by Caitlin Berard
Skiers Cross Avalanche Path in Wyoming
(Photo by Kevin Cass via Getty Images)

While skiing in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, professional skier Owen Leeper found himself caught in a devastating avalanche – filming the entire brutal fall with the GoPro attached to his helmet.

Leeper, a professional big mountain skier, was filming himself with both a GoPro and a drone camera as he made his way down a steep chute in the backcountry. Suddenly, the snow gives way beneath him, the skier letting out an ‘Oh, sh-t!’ as he loses his footing and falls to the ground, the river of snow pulling him rapidly toward the cliff.

As the avalanche picks up speed, the skier’s head bashes violently against the rocks on the way down the mountain, his helmet the only thing protecting his skull from the many jagged surfaces.

Somehow, Leeper made it out of the incident with only a dislocated shoulder and a gash on his knee. “I feel very lucky I made it out with minor injuries,” he said.

In another video, the skier shared his drone footage of the near-deadly avalanche. From this angle, one of his skis can be seen tearing away from his boot in the deluge.

In his series of Instagram posts, Leeper described the incident in vivid detail, recounting his terror as his safety devices failed him. “I tried digging my hands in to stop myself from sliding, but the snow grabbed my skis,” he wrote. “I tried to reach for my airbag, but my shoulder was buried in the snow, and I couldn’t get to it before bracing for impact on the rocks.”

Skier Miraculously Survives Horrific Avalanche With ‘Minor Injuries’

Once the avalanche finally came to a stop, the skier used his radio to contact his friend, letting him know not to venture down the chute.

Reunited, the friend attempted to pop Leeper’s shoulder back in place, but the pain was unbearable. They then tried to fit his arm into a sling so he could ski down under his own power. This, however, proved impossible as well, as moving his arm even slightly “was excruciating.”

With no other options, the pair called in the help of Teton County Search and Rescue, who arrived shortly thereafter to fly the injured skier to safety. It took three hours and three hospital staff, but they eventually popped his shoulder back into place. Though a brutal injury, the skier is extremely lucky, given the intensity of the avalanche.

“I am very lucky I didn’t hit my head or break any bones,” Leeper explained. “Only bruises, some stitches in my knee and my injured shoulder. I will have to get an MRI to see if there is any damage to it.”

As the skier explained, avalanche danger in the backcountry varies. However, there isn’t a single day of the season in which the avalanche danger drops to zero. “Every backcountry skier understands the risks,” Leeper said. “The important thing is to minimize risks where possible, but you can’t remove all risk while pursuing extreme skiing.”