Elisabeth Malloy, a 43-year-old Utah skier, was swallowed up by an avalanche on Sunday, but lived to tell the tale thanks to avy preparation, cool thinking, and the quick reactions of her ski partner and rescue services.
While skiing in the mountains east of Salt Lake with her boyfriend, 30-year-old Adam Morrey, Malloy triggered a 700-foot-wide avalanche, which engulfed them both.
Malloy said it felt like a water slide as she slid face first on her stomach down the mountain in the avalanche. She meditated, breathed slowly, and told herself that it wasn't her time to die during the few minutes before she lost consciousness while buried about 18 inches into the snow.
"It was surreal, as quiet and as embryonic without being water that I could imagine," said Malloy, a pediatric nurse. "I had this feeling that I was going to be fine."
Morrey, only buried up to his waist, was able to locate Malloy using the beacons they were both wearing. He managed to dig her out using an avalanche shovel and perform CPR. Another skier came upon the couple and put out a call to initiate a rescue. He then helped them ski down the mountain, where a rescue helicopter then spotted them within two-and-a-half hours.
“Our judgment was overwhelmed by the pursuit of having more fun and skiing the steeper slopes and the great Utah powder,” Morrey said.
Malloy, who suffered hypothermia and frostbite on her fingers and toes, plans to keep skiing, saying, “It’s who I am.”