VAIL - Although avalanche danger in Colorado isn't necessarily high this Christmas, what happened near Vail over the weekend should serve as a warning for anyone who plans to explore the backcountry.
Edwin and Davis LaMair were out skiing east of Vail on Sunday with a friend, when Edwin accidentally triggered a massive avalanche.
The avalanche, which was 800 feet wide, swallowed Edwin up and dragged him face-first over a 20-foot cliff.
"It was my first real turn on the slope, and I saw downhill from me to the left that the snow was kind of cracking up and starting to slide," Edwin LaMair said.
At that point, LaMair tried skiing towards a tree to get out of the way, but it was too late. Somewhere in a fog of white snow, the avalanche gripped him and ripped him out of one of his skis. It continued to drag LaMair downhill.
"I slid for probably 800 feet and its widest point at the bottom is probably 150 feet," he said.
LaMair's brother, Davis, raced down hill as fast as he could and jumped over the same cliff Edwin was pulled over. Davis found his brother buried head deep.
"Even though I could breathe I was still panicky and freaked out, because I still couldn't move any part of my body at all. It was just like being cemented in place with just your face above," LaMair said.
It only took a few minutes for Davis and his friend to dig Edwin out. At the end of the day, Edwin had a torn ACL and some other more minor injuries.
Edwin and Davis are both experienced backcountry skiers. They've taken avalanche safety courses and had all of the proper survival equipment on them.
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