January 26, 2015 12:49 am
Updated: August 6, 2016 3:03 pm

“I’m just happy to be alive”: Julie Abrahamsen speaks after her rescue

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WATCH: Julie Abrahamsen’s first public comments after being rescued, and the story of how she was found.

For three nights, 20-year-old Julie Abrahamsen slept under rocks and trees in the Whistler backcountry, rationing a half container of pasta, hoping against all odds she would find a way back to her apartment.

“The hardest part was the nights. It was so cold. I didn’t have too much clothes. Some were wet, so I tried to make the best solution and get some sleep, but it was hard,” she said.

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Abrahamsen, who lives in Norway, had been vacationing in Whistler for all of January and staying in an apartment with other tourists. She didn’t return from Whistler Blackcomb on January 21, and search crews were notified of her disappearance on January 23.

In the early afternoon of January 24, she was spotted by search and rescue crews in a helicopter. A short time later, she was back with her friends, suffering only from mild frostbite on her hands and bruises on her legs.

READ MORE: Missing snowboarder Julie Abrahamsen found alive near Whistler Blackcomb

“When I saw the helicopter…I was thinking ‘are they coming for me?’ I was really excited, and tried to run as fast as I could to the river.”

She crossed a creek near Wedge Mountain, five kilometres away from the Blackcomb Mountain ski area she had left four days earlier.

“She went in and out of the creek another of times. We had to go back uphill, and snowshoe down to her,” said Brad Sills, a senior manager with Whistler Search and Rescue.

Sills says there were several reasons the rescue had a happy ending, including a pilot who had noticed tracks in the backcountry on January 23, and a new electronic tracking system at Blackcomb that let crews know the last time she went up a lift.

“It’s a great survival story.”

Abrahamsen also credited the warmer than normal weather in the mountains.

“I think I would say I was lucky with the weather,” she said. “It wasn’t as cold as it normally is. It was pretty mild.”

After she was rescued, there was a trip to the Whistler Medical Centre – and a phone call with grateful parents.

“That was most awesome second in my life,” said Peder Knud Abrahamsen from his home in Son, Norway. “We were in deep, deep, deep grief and panic about our little girl, knowing that she was out there in the mountains alone. We were praying and hoping she was alive, fearing that she was injured or even worse.”

READ MORE: Dad of missing Whistler snowboarder grateful for daughter’s safe return

Abrahamsen says “she’s not ready” to explain how she got lost, and police say she wasn’t reported missing for two days because she had only known her roommates for a few weeks.

But what truly matters is that she’s alive.

“Thank you to everyone that’s been helping with the case, especially to the rescue staff and the doctors in Whistler,” said Abrahamsen.

“I’m just happy to be alive.”

Julie Abrahamsen, who hadn’t been seen in three days after going snowboarding, was found near Blackcomb Mountain on January 24, 2015.

Pat Bell/Global News

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