Avalanche Airbag Deployment Video Collection

Post by WildSnow.com blogger | October 9, 2012      

The following videos are a collection of avalanche airbag deployment videos. Calling all Wildsnowers, if you are aware of any other videos out there please link them in the comment section and we’ll embed them below.

For airbag info please refer to our avalanche airbag backpack overview.

Be safe out there this winter.

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Aymar Navarro’s, professional freeskier, use of ABS’s airbag system speaks for itself. Complete slope failure and no safe exit. From the video you cannot see the moment he pulled the release handle but its safe to say his chances of survival were heightened by use of an avalanche airbag.

Well, the one above looks a bit ridiculous as airbag PR since the gal appears to ride her snowboard the whole way down. Yeah, airbags work but we’re not sure this vid really proves much except demonstrating how high fives are performed. By the way, it appears BCA was accused of somehow exploiting this vid. That’s unfair. BCA is in the business of selling safety products and should be getting the word out about videos that show their product being used (no matter how minor the incident). So kudos to them for doing so. On the other hand, if you film a compelling near-death incident that happens to have someone’s safety gear in use, you can probably sell the footage or at least publish it and get a lot of traffic, so an interesting and perhaps poisonous incentive exists for film makers to go out and try to create incidents. Not saying this is an example of that, but it definitely causes one to think about such issues.

The vid above looks a bit more realistic, with interesting music. Not a huge avy. In one quick frame you can see a guy trying to run on his skis and get out from under it. That they had to dig the guy out makes it real.

Hmmm, the fear level ramps up. I think he alludes to a terrain trap such as a crevasse.

Raw Footage – edit to follow from Jeff Wyshynski on Vimeo.

Another somewhat scary one. The guy remembers to knock the snow off his POV camera after taking his ride (as in, ‘if it’s not on YouTube it did not happen’). Airbag backpack makes it gentle, or just not that big a slide?

Avalanche Skier POV Helmet Cam Burial & Rescue in Haines, Alaska from Chappy on Vimeo.

Well, that’s an avalung save rather than an airbg… Note the guy was also saved by plastic shovels.

Following is more of a PR piece but it does a good job of showing how the airbag works. Thing to remember is a percentage of people deploying airbags still die from trauma, terrain trap burial, or other things (for example, it won’t float you over a cliff). Not one of the shots in this vid that looks rather violent. Thus, beware of accepting ever more risk just because you have an “avalanche balloon.”

Well, that was another PR extravaganza but does have some “real” footage.

Please refer to our avalanche airbag backpack overview.

Shop for Avalanche Airbags Here


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27 Responses to “Avalanche Airbag Deployment Video Collection”

  1. JBella October 9th, 2012 9:14 am

    I’m wondering about the caption for the first video, I’ve seen this video many times and know the area it was filmed, what I’m wondering is why you would say that the example “looks a bit ridiculous as airbag PR as the gal appears to ride her snowboard the whole way down” when, just as before the airbag is deployed the rider is knocked backwards, at a critical moment of the avalanche when the snow expands onto the runnout and is flowing and rolling around itself, it looks like the airbag kept her from being pulled down into the snow with her board, working perfectly, just like a pfd keeping a person afloat in swift moving water. I’m not a fan of BCA or their products but this video is an example of their airbag being used in a legit situation. I very much doubt it was intentionally staged given that this was a freeriding competition in Summit County and most of the riders were ameteurs in this wilderness environment, all great riders but not as experienced with avalanches and more natural conditions than exist at resorts. I say this not knowing the people involved so I’m not sure they wouldn’t take such a risk, I think they were trying to have a good competitive event and decided to ride areas that weren’t very stable to produce more exciting lines.

  2. Lou Dawson October 9th, 2012 9:22 am

    J, thanks for commenting. I don’t think it was staged and tried to make that clear in my text, I do think it was not much of an avalanche. Just opinion from watching the vid.

    The video that’s more impressive is one that shows a rider getting washing machined , loosing all their gear, perhaps getting injured, but surviving obviously because their airbag made them end up on the surface. Such vids are harder to come by, perhaps because in those situations filming might be the last thing on people’s minds, or else if they were filming they might want to keep their terrifying near-death experience private.

  3. JBella October 9th, 2012 9:25 am

    I do agree with the second half of your statement, which in part is why I don’t feel it’s good karma to downplay a potentially serious situation because no one was injured and the outcome was positive

  4. JBella October 9th, 2012 9:28 am

    Thanks for posting these and initiating another intelligent human discussion!

  5. Jay Monnahan October 9th, 2012 10:24 am

    I was about to make a similar comment as JBella before scrolling down and seeing hers. It’s not quite as exciting as the machine washer first person videos with larger slides but the 3rd person perspective showing her basically just sitting on top and riding it out is sort of interesting. The different perspective is useful but other than that it’s mostly a lesson in how to look cool while giving high fives.

  6. Steve October 9th, 2012 11:25 am

    One thing that all of these incidents have in common is a clean runout zone. Very favorable conditions for using an airbag. The one mentioned as “washing machine” looks to me like he was at or near the surface the entire time, but I’m simply judging this by the snippets of blue sky popping in and out from the helmet cam. Being “washing machined” is subjective. If anyone is interested in further airbag research and use in the U.S., some of the results from my ISSW presentation two weeks ago can be found at this link: http://www.backcountryaccess.com/2012/10/05/issw-2012-bcas-steve-christie-reveals-u-s-avalanche-airbag-statistics/#comments

  7. Tim October 9th, 2012 12:33 pm

    the blowback BCA experienced in the wake of the first video, i think, centered on the fact that the company sort of breathlessly trumpeted it as a “save” when what most people saw watching the same video — note the recent slide/debris directly skier’s left of the path carrying the snowboarding — was simply foolish judgment.

    BCA, it’s perhaps worth nothing, is the same company that a few years earlier in a marketing campaign downplayed beacon technology like masking functions, which it did not yet have on the market, in favor of getting people to bone up on their shoveling techniques.

  8. Reinier October 9th, 2012 1:13 pm

    Looking at the ‘Raw Footage’ video, I am surpised that the person that come to help after the slide, does wear a ABS backpack, but does not have his release handle installed.. I just don’t understand. Did he loose it or just forgetting that he can also be hit by an avalanche?

    This is someting I more see when sking in sidecountry near resort. People do have an ABS but forget to install the handle. Or what I see more often, that people keep the velcro on the handle, which makes it difficult to release.

    Of course I understand that you do not want to release inconvienently.

    Anyway, great webside and post Lou. Greetings from a Euro’s fan.

  9. Lou Dawson October 9th, 2012 1:57 pm

    Reinier, I think much of what you see is people being careful not to have the trigger installed, to prevent accidental deployment on a lift or in a gondola, which could be dangerous.

    Imagine a child: “Daddy, what happens if I yank that interesting looking handle???” BAM

  10. Scott Nelson October 9th, 2012 3:04 pm

    Thanks for posting these Lou. Good food for thought. Is there somewhat of a consensus as to which device ( airbag vs. avalung) a person should buy first? Do the airbags negate the need for an avalung? Do some skiers use both, even though the airbags seem to keep you on top vs. under? Just curious.

  11. Steve October 9th, 2012 4:54 pm

    Shoveling is hands-down the most important skill to master in avalanche rescue. This would be an example of proper shoveling technique saving a life:


  12. Dan October 9th, 2012 6:10 pm

    Ditto on the proper shoveling technique. Also, in avy classes that I took years ago a beacon was generally buried on flatish ground, which was pretty easy to deal with. In recent classes the “victim” is frequently buried on a slope, which makes for a more challenging search and a significantly more challenging digging exercise. Nothing like an exhausted skier, digging like hell in a panic right straight down only to find the victim’s feet.

  13. John S October 9th, 2012 8:04 pm

    I’ll take any advantage I can get. So, I wear an airbag pack.

  14. Jeff Wyshynksi October 9th, 2012 10:52 pm

    You don’t know how much crap I have had to take for cleaning my go pro post that slide….

    Yes, I am the guy in the “Raw Footage” video. I would just like to state, yet again and for the record, I did not “clean my gopro” but, rather was waving the “all ok” and hit my gopro in the process. Trust me, I was not thinking of the *** go pro. In fact, it was the first, last, and only time I have used the thing (it wasn’t even mine, I just borrowed it for the run as I had a mount on my helmet). The guy behind did have an ABS pack but had his trigger confiscated by the TSA, which was not the first time for him, nor the last. Also, I did have an avalung as well and actually put in in first, for reasons described here:


  15. jpvallone October 10th, 2012 1:51 am

    This should make the cut,


    Still to this day one of the most impressive stories I have ever followed that relates to a bag.. I have been enjoying Xavier’s career for quite some time now, and I still in my personal opinion consider him one of the most influential and arguably the best riders on snow in any discipline. Yes I am a skier, but I have so much respect for the way this man moves down a mountain, and It is hard to compare his fluidity and finesse on the surface of snow with the pull of gravity to anyone else. That is my two cents and it comes from watching and appreciating the pure skill of movement.

    Anyway, there is no visual evidence or even a recovery photo of Xavier physically on the surface in the aftermath due to the bag. But based on his testimonial and the fact that he survived what we see, I would have to give credit to his bag based on what is here. I Have met Xavier, and having followed his career for some time now, I highly doubt he would say what he has said in this video for marketing gain or incentive. I will give him the benefit of his word knowing who he is and what he has accomplished. There will be naysayers, but I believe the chances of surviving a slide like this are like hitting the lottery, But he did, and according to his testimonial, a bag gave him a chance.

    I think the first video is a 50/50, I am sure the bag helped lessen the trauma that might of incurred in that terrain. As far as a publicity stunt, Anyone who thinks so obviously doesn’t have a clue. No way would BCA pull a maneuver like that. Come on, get real folks, if you are making that claim you just don’t know what your talking about. I have spent a fair bit of time in that terrain, I know it well. They shouldn’t of been there and it was obvious. I am not playing armchair quarter back here. That was just a give me for any seasoned summit county regular, and or someone that actually took the CAIC report to heart that day, and if your claiming experienced pro’s, then obviously, a true no brainer for a pro.

    The fact that these people were here and claiming experienced pros given the terrain, the given day and the conditions should be a red flag for credibility to everyone involved.

    As for the second video, and one I hadn’t seen yet, I was enlightened once again and took note to the astonishing effort and amount of time it took to extract a partial burial. This video should be an eye opener for all of us. What I took away was how long and how much energy it took to extract someone that was partially buried at the surface. I ask myself again, and knowing what I know, do I really know how to dig. It’s amazing how much time we spend training and practicing searches and pinpoints, but how many of us really know how to dig when it comes down to it?

  16. Reinier October 10th, 2012 5:09 am

    @Jeff, Thanks for clarifying your point and explaining my point rearding the guy who came to help.

    Hearing your story is vital to get the full picture of what happened (even regarding the gopro).

    The fact that you post your footage and experince can only help us guys who only have theories about ‘how it would be in an avalanche’. Credits to you

  17. Donna Ryan October 10th, 2012 5:32 am

    Hi I need some advise,
    I just got a good deal on some Watea 84 skis and I want to fit dynafit radical bindings to them for tours predominantly in Scotland and the alps, but I will also do some piste bashing. I would like to know whether it is advisable to go with the radical FT or ST? I am female 62 kilos/91/2 stone, and 5feet tall. A fairly aggressive downhill skier but just getting started with touring.

  18. Lou Dawson October 10th, 2012 6:08 am

    Jeff, ok!

  19. Lou Dawson October 10th, 2012 6:12 am

    Donna, they’re both virtually the same binding only one has a higher release value (RV) setting. Just go with the binding that provides the RV values you need.

    For more binding discussion, please leave a comment on one of our binding review posts. Easy to find, just use “Categories” drop-down menu at upper right.


  20. Mark October 10th, 2012 8:07 am

    Avalanche airbags, what next? Brilliant idea though!!

  21. Tanner Stuart October 10th, 2012 9:49 am


    This is a video of me last feburary deploying my snopulse. It kept me afloat the whole way down. This is my second expierence pulling my airbag. The second time was not on film but alot more intense than this one. It was a massive cornice failure to step down avy and i was fully under the wall of snow for the duration of the ride until near the end the airbag ” lifted” me up and my head was out of the snow when it all stopped. I will never go touring or sledding without my sno pulse. Saved my life. Twice.

  22. Nick October 10th, 2012 11:37 am

    Doesn’t really show the airbag deployment, and it’s a little hyped up on ABS, but this one’s a classic for how big and scary it is:

  23. Murray October 12th, 2012 12:05 pm

    Here’s a clip from TV Mountain, a Chamonix-based source for climbing and ski mountaineering videos. (in French).

    The two men are brothers, it seems. The first one down eventually triggers a slide as he comes out of the couloir and into what appears to be a cross loaded slope.


  24. Bruce McCheyne December 15th, 2012 2:20 pm

    I was thinking of using a inflatable life jacket as my avay vest.
    Compact, rechargable, low profile, pack storable.
    Looking for any comments

  25. Nick October 8th, 2013 8:01 am

    Here’s a new one. Big avalanche.

  26. Chris September 26th, 2014 4:29 pm

    I collected 100+ avalanche videos and categorized them. For instance by rescue means (airbag, friends&shovel, own hands), causer (ski, snowboard, snowmobile), degree of burial (full, partially, none).
    Just filter by tag ‘airbag’ on the left side to see airbag avalanche videos only.

  27. Lou Dawson 2 September 26th, 2014 4:34 pm

    Chris, wow!

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