Alexandra Pope, staff writer
April 3, 2011 — One of two men caught in an avalanche in the Colorado backcountry Friday made an air pocket with his hand so he could breathe while he waited to be rescued.
The two men were carried about 120 meters by the slide, which occurred near a ski resort on the Continental Divide.
Skier Nate Purcell, 38, was only partially buried and was able to use his cell phone to call for help.
Snowboarder Daniel Ferrari, 42, was completely buried, but not deeply, and was able to create an air pocket with his hand. He called out to rescuers when he heard them approach.
The men were buried for about 30 minutes before they were rescued.
Summit County Rescue Group spokesman Jim Koegel said the pair were both experienced backcountry skiers and were carrying avalanche gear, but may have started their descent from the mountain too late in the morning, as temperatures were climbing.
Rising temperatures on sunny spring days can weaken the snow pack and trigger heavy, wet avalanches, Koegel said.
Five people have died in Colorado avalanches this season, according to the Colorado Avalanche Information Center.
With files from the Associated Press.