(CNN) – Less than a minute after descending Colorado’s backcountry slopes, a snowboarder was struck by an avalanche.
Maurice Kerwin was at 8. In January, he was snowboarding on Nameless Peak near Loveland Pass in Upper County when he says he turned around and saw the snow coming up behind him.
I was impressed by his greatness and was very grateful to be alive, whether he was buried or not, and not mortally wounded, Kerwin told CNN. The scale was definitely enough to bury you, paralyze you, or maybe kill you. It was very intense.
Not only did the 25-year-old from Denver survive, but Kerwin escaped unharmed. Around 1:00 p.m. he filmed the adrenaline experience.
Avalanches are unpredictable and dangerous, and not all stories have a happy ending like Kerwin’s.
According to the Colorado Avalanche Information Center (CAIC), avalanches have killed an average of 27 people per season over the past 10 winters in the United States. Last year, 23 people died in an avalanche in the United States. The CAIC is the leading archive of avalanche deaths in the United States, according to its website.
Shooting cracks formed like spider webs in snow
Kerwin said he knew something was wrong when he saw cracks under him.
He said that the snow actually breaks up into clumps and there seem to be cracks or cobwebs in the snow in front of you, as if it were torn.
As the snow began to pull him down, Kerwin said he used his backpack with an airbag to keep him above the snow.
The air whistles, it seems like the air pressure is dropping at the same time, as you can hear in the video. Snow fell on and around him as he fell from about 1000 feet.
I dropped the axe and camera in my back hand and pulled on the airbag that helped me float across the snow, Kerwin said. I could rise above the snow after falling off a small cliff, and I could float on the snow until I stopped.
Once it stopped, the world kept spinning around me, he said. It was very surreal at that point.
I’m fine. I’m fine. I’m fine. I’m fine. I’m fine. I’m fine. I’m fine. I’m fine. I’m clean. I’m safe. I’m safe, Kerwin said in the video while on vacation.
Kerwin, an investor in cryptocurrencies and amateur snowboarder, said he was aware of the conditions of this risky descent, but took the time to check the snow conditions as he and a buddy walked the two miles to the top. They felt safe to walk.
As anyone who has ever been in an avalanche can tell you, we thought we were safe and that it was a train, which clearly wasn’t the case, he said.
Kerwin called 911 and learned that the search and rescue operation had already begun, he said.
90% of avalanches are man-made
Two people ended up in an avalanche that day, and both were caused by humans, CAIC director Ethan Green told CNN. Kerwin threw one of them, he said.
About 90 percent of the accidents we have are due to a person dying or an avalanche caused by a member of his group, not a natural avalanche hitting someone, he said.
It is not uncommon for one person to cause an avalanche. Colorado has had an above-average number of avalanches so far this year, Green said.
According to Green, the CAIC has recorded 259 lawine activations in Colorado so far this year (through Saturday night).
In Colorado, we see about 4,000 avalanches a year. Nearly 300 in a few weeks is a lot, but it’s not uncommon, he said. Due to the snowfall, there were more avalanches than usual this year.
According to Green, it is easy to cause an avalanche, but it is possible to avoid areas that could be dangerous. All it takes is a little practice and planning.
I want to tell people to check the weather forecast before going inland so they can make a plan for the day that suits the conditions, he said. A little practice could save his life too.
Green encourages people to check avalanche.org for conditions in their area. He also said to bring the proper equipment, an avalanche transceiver, a probe and shovels, in case you get into a bad situation.
After the snow hits the avalanche, it becomes very hard, almost like concrete, he said. You can’t get out of it. It’s snowing so hard you need someone to help you.
Three skiers died in avalanches the weekend before Christmas at a particularly dangerous time in Colorado’s popular backcountry, authorities said.
Kerwin, who has been in college since he was four or five years old. If you are under 18, we recommend skiing with a partner or a group of people.
He hopes people will see what happened in his video and get the proper training, equipment and personnel before moving into the background, he said.
I will not tolerate anyone trying to do what I did. It’s my personal decision, he said. Be safe in your garden and understand your risk assessment and position.