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Guide Saved My Life by Staying at My Side for 30 Hours: Skier

A backcountry skier who survived a deadly avalanche in Oregon said Thursday she would have succumbed to the wilderness if it were not for a guide who stayed with her for 30 hours.

Susan Polizzi, 60, was in a group of six skiers and two guides hit by the avalanche in the backcountry of the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest on Tuesday, The Associated Press reported.

Two of her fellow skiers were killed by the snow slide that experts predict traveled 1,200 feet from the 8,640-foot Cornucopia Peak.

Polizzi, of Wenatchee, Wash., broke both of her legs and said she would have died without one of the guides, 40-year-old Bruno Bachinger who scarcely left her side for almost a day and a half.

While the other guide led the four uninjured skiers off the mountain, Bachinger, of Snohomish, Wash., who also suffered a broken leg, waited with Polizzi until help arrived on Wednesday.

In a hospital statement reported by the AP, Polizzi also praised the "skills and the multitude" of rescuers who battled through heavy snow and strong winds before wrapping them in blankets and bringing them to safety on sleds.

The dead were still on the mountain late Thursday because the avalanche risk was too great for recovery teams. The AP identified them as Shane Coulter, a 30-year-old aerospace engineer from Seattle, and Jake Merrill, a 23-year-old guide from Bellingham, Wash.

Avalanche risk has been high in the West after heavy snow intruded on a relatively dry winter. The deaths brought to 12 the number of people killed in avalanches nationally this season, including six in the West since Sunday.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.