Boy awakens 24 hours after Utah avalanche |

Boy awakens 24 hours after Utah avalanche

Allen Best
Vail, CO Colorado

PARK CITY, Utah ” In-bounds avalanches are unusual, and ones causing fatalities rare.

But the improbable occurred just before Christmas at The Canyons Resort. This is despite the 170 pounds of explosives thrown out onto the slope the day before, and also despite the fact that the slope had been skied heavily prior to the avalanche.

The slide killed a 30-year-old Colorado man when it threw him into a tree. It also buried a 11-year-old boy, who did not regain consciousness until the next day. The boy, Max Zilvitis, was under the snow for about 39 minutes.

The boy’s father, Brian Zilvitis, who was skiing nearby, was buried to his waist in avalanche-compacted snow. Unsure of where his son was in the snow, he instead used a cell phone to call for help.

“I would not want to listen to how I sounded on that 911 call because I’m sure it was disastrous. It was the worst feeling in my life,” Brian told The Park Record.

Max was found by ski patrollers, administered CPR and then flown by helicopter to a hospital. His body temperature had dropped significantly, so doctors did not allow his body temperature to return to normal for 24 hours, to prevent his brain from swelling.

When the boy awoke, the Record report, his first question was, “What happened to me?” He had seen the snow coming, and recalls being covered by snow, but then lost consciousness.

For the father, the time was one of torment. “All I could think about were all the hundreds of conversations that we’re in the middle of that we might not get to finish.”

WHISTLER, B.C. ” Snowmobiles are being banned from the Callaghan Valley, the site of the Nordic skiing events in the 2010 Winter Olympics. Predictably, snowmobilers are not pleased.

“There’s going to be some fur and paint flying soon,” said Lincoln Ferguson, president of the Pemberton Valley Snowmobile Club.

Whistler’s Pique newsmagazine explains that snowmobilers use the valley to access the Pemberton Icecap, a breathtaking expanse of glaciers that covers several hundred square miles of terrain. Now, they must use a different and possibly more avalanche-risky route.

Cross-county skiers say motorized and the self-propelled uses are inherently incompatible. People cross-country ski to be out in nature, free from noise, pollution, and even the tracks of motorized vehicles, explained Brad Sills, owner of a cross-country ski lodge called Callaghan Country.

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