CNET también está disponible en español.

Ir a español

Don't show this again


Video shows inflatable pack saving snowboarder from avalanche

A first-person video shows the harrowing moments when a snowboarder is caught in an avalanche and protected by his high-tech backpack.

Caution: some not-safe-for-work cursing appears in this video.

Snowboarder Tom Oye went for a wintry ride in Whistler, Canada, this week and got more of an adventure than he expected when an avalanche broke free on a slope. Oye captured the whole incident on a helmet cam. The footage starts with him carving snow when the white pack suddenly cracks and slips.

A strange whirring sound kicks in thanks to Oye's Black Diamond airbag pack, a backpack that inflates to keep its wearer safe in an avalanche situation.

The sound is the pack's battery-powered jet fan expanding the built-in airbag that's activated by the wearer. It takes just 4 seconds for the airbag to inflate. It also automatically deflates after 3 minutes to give wearers an air pocket in case they're buried. That wasn't necessary for Oye, who rode out the scary event and came out above snow level.

"It was crazy to feel the power of all that snow moving together. Luckily, when it was all said, my head was above the surface and I wasn't injured. It reminds me I still have a lot to learn about snow safety," writes Oye, who triggered the airbag when he felt snow moving beneath him.

The video is dramatic, so it's no wonder Oye and the friends who came to check on him let out a few choice curse words about the incident. A surprisingly calm-sounding Oye declares, "That was a little scary."

There are a variety of airbag backpacks and avalanche beacons available for fans of snow adventures. The Black Diamond bag Oye wore costs $1,100 (£900, AU$1,470), and his friends recently gave it to him as a gift. That's what we call good timing.

Crowd Control: A crowdsourced science fiction novel written by CNET readers. Read it here.

Tech Enabled: CNET chronicles tech's role in providing new kinds of accessibility. Check it out here.