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B.C. snowboarder ‘sore’ and ‘grateful’ after surviving North Shore avalanche

Click to play video: 'B.C. snowboarder describes surviving North Shore avalanche' B.C. snowboarder describes surviving North Shore avalanche
We're hearing from the B.C. man who survived an avalanche on a North Shore mountain last week. The experienced outdoorsman knew the danger was high but never expected what happened. As Catherine Urquhart reports, the near-death experience taught him a valuable lesson. – Jan 10, 2022

A man who survived an avalanche on Vancouver’s North Shore last week says he’s fortunate to be alive after the incident that’s reminded him that “life is so precious.”

Tamo Campos, a professional snowboarder and well-known environmentalist in B.C., is recovering from a fractured knee, a torn shoulder and a hyper-extended hip after being partially buried by an avalanche on Hollyburn Mountain on Jan. 3.

“It’s been about one week since the accident and definitely feeling pretty darn sore, but it’s kind of this mixture of gratitude and soreness,” the 31-year-old told Global News.

“Grateful to be alive, but definitely feel like an avocado that was used for a baseball game.”

Read more: Injured skier rescued from avalanche on Hollyburn Mountain at Cypress

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Campos said he was snowboarding in the backcountry with a friend on Hollyburn, one of three mountains at Cypress, when the avalanche struck.

“Next thing I know — full white room in the trees and (it felt like) just being taken down at someone else’s control,” he said, referring to the experience of being enveloped by snow while skiing.

“It just felt like a swimming pool had just taken me off of my feet. I was just praying I wasn’t going to hit my head.”

He ended up wrapped around a tree, crushed by piles of snow as they ripped down the mountain. His snowboard and bindings snapped off, and snow started to fill his helmet, creating a pressure that choked him.

He was able to free his arm to remove the helmet, he said, and his friend was able to dig him out, but he was too injured to be moved. It was close to seven hours before North Shore Rescue could reach him.

Click to play video: 'Skier suffers broken leg on Hollyburn Mountain' Skier suffers broken leg on Hollyburn Mountain
Skier suffers broken leg on Hollyburn Mountain – Jan 4, 2022

Campos described the experience as “frightening,” and said he’s thankful he and his friend were prepared.

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They knew the avalanche risk on the mountain was high that day, so they chose an area they knew well and brought all of their avalanche gear, including painkillers, dry clothes, first aid kit, emergency blanket, and shovel.

They also had a satellite phone, which they used to provide precise co-ordinates to their rescuers.

“It just kind of speaks to that mistake you can make — the complicity when you’ve done it before so it’s fine,” said Campos.

“I feel grateful in some ways that I was (the) one in that accident rather than someone that maybe didn’t have the gear that our team had.”

Read more: Body of missing Kelowna snowboarder found at Big White Ski Resort

He’s spent his life in the backcountry, he said, and the North Shore mountains are a place very close to his heart. He said he was brought there on his parents’ back when he was 11 days old, he added, and his dad’s and grandmother’s ashes are buried there.

“The backcountry has been given me so much in my life. It’s my temple, it’s my church in some ways,” he said.

Campos expressed deep gratitude to the rescue team and all the friends and family who are supporting his recovery.

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