Clair Israelson  /  National Geographic
National Geographic Ultimate Explorer correspondent Michael Davie investigates one of the deadliest avalanche seasons on record, interviewing survivors who have been to the brink of death and back and the scientists and rescuers battling to save lives in the wake of one of nature’s fiercest furies.
updated 4/19/2004 12:06:08 PM ET 2004-04-19T16:06:08

Avalanches are one of North America’s deadliest natural forces. And ever-increasing number of outdoor enthusiasts mean that more and more people are putting themselves in harm’s way. Last year was one of the most tragic on record.

In exclusive interviews, National Geographic Ultimate Explorer correspondent Michael Davie talks to avalanche survivors as well as to the families of avalanche victims, some of whom are speaking out for the first time on the devastation and aftermath of these deadly events.

Avalanches pose a greater threat than ever before. In 2003, two of this century’s worst avalanches befell two groups in Canada’s Glacier National Park, killing 14 people, including seven teenagers. Later that year, members of a group of snowmobilers were nearly buried alive by an avalanche in British Columbia’s Selkirk Mountain Range. They all survived, but some will never view the mountains the same way again. 

Davie heads into the wild, joining scientists and rescuers battling to save lives. To help prevent future tragedies, they are working to develop new survival technologies and techniques. Davie joins a team of scientists who are investigating an avalanche’s impact on the human body. In the end, Davie tackles the lingering question facing many mountain climbers and outdoor enthusiasts today: Is the risk worth the reward?

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