Nightly News   |  December 28, 2013

Skier survives avalanche, while others aren’t so lucky

Two recent snowstorms have helped to create ripe conditions for deadly avalanches out west. One skier recalls being swept up by a wave of powder and his fear that he would “suffocate to death under the snow.” NBC’s Joe Fryer reports

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>> reporter: at first, the video camera mounted in davis la mer 's helmet documents a glide through back country. he races down the hill to find his brother, edwin, swallowed by an avalanche.

>> help!

>> reporter: nearly every part of his body buried beneath a heavy coat of snow. were you afraid for your life?

>> yeah. when i was deep under the snow, right before it stopped completely, i was really worried that i was going to be buried completely and suffocate to death underneath the snow.

>> reporter: la mer knows he's lucky. two others were killed this week by avalanches including 29-year-old skier mike kazanji, buried by a slide near jackson hole , wyoming. there were a few close calls this month thanks to recent snow storms.

>> we've got weak snow that was on the ground, heavy snow is starting to stack up on top of that. and that's always a perfect recipe for human-triggered avalanches in the back country.

>> reporter: last season avalanches killed 24 people in the united states , nearly all in the west. to stay alive, experts say backcountry skiers should carry a beacon, shovel and probe so they can rescue themselves.

>> otherwise it's trying to find a needle in a needle in a haystack , virtually impossible.

>> reporter: as an experienced back country skier, edwin had all of that equipment. the best thing he brought with him was his brother who dug him out.

>> i'm extremely thankful that everything turned out the way it did and i didn't sustain any worse injuries or die.

>> reporter: after escaping with only torn ligaments he promises to return to the slopes next year with an even greater respect for the dangers of the back country. joe fryer, nbc news, los angeles .