OLYMPIC VALLEY (aiexpress) – Minutes after the deadly avalanche struck Palisades on Wednesday morning, two men were immediately thrust into a life-saving mission. Despite being buried in the snow themselves, they bravely leaped into action to rescue others.
Loren Ennis and his best friend Ben Erskine were taken aback when they saw the KT-22 lift opening that day. However, they made the spontaneous decision to seize the opportunity and squeeze in a few runs before the weather deteriorated.
Ennis recalled noticing the considerable strength of the winds, particularly along the ridge line. Aware of the heightened risk of avalanches, they still felt confident in their decision to proceed, believing it to be a relatively safe choice.
The mountain was engulfed in a storm, creating near whiteout conditions as the duo descended onto the KT-22 run shortly after 9 a.m.
Within moments, Mother Nature was in hot pursuit. Erskine described the snow as blowing up to the point where visibility was completely obscured, making it impossible to discern any surrounding context.
The two snowboarders found themselves caught in a relentless avalanche that would prove to be fatal. They skillfully maneuvered through the rushing snow, feeling as though they were riding a powerful wave.
Ennis described the experience as being similar to a locked-in water slide, an incredibly surreal and crazy sensation. He explained that he was unable to move anything in his lower body, comparing it to the feeling of being trapped under a heavy, million-pound weighted blanket.
They eventually found themselves only a few feet apart, both buried in the deep snow.Ennis recalled the moment when the situation became overwhelming, expressing his disbelief and the fear that he might not survive.
Both men managed to free themselves from the snow, only to find that two individuals just a few feet away were unable to do the same.
Erskine explained that they were the first ones to respond to the situation and they understood the importance of acting quickly. They recognized their ability to provide assistance in that moment and knew that time was of the essence.
Erskine rescued a trapped man while Loren made her way through the deep snow to reach skier Janet He.” I was unable to lift myself up due to the weight of the heavy snow on top of me,” Janet He recounted to CBS13 about her rescue after the avalanche on Wednesday night.
Loren cleared an airway for Janet and then proceeded to dig her free at work.
Janet He was overwhelmed with gratitude as she recounted the life-saving actions of the man. With a genuine smile, she fondly recalled his reassuring words, “No worries, I got you.” These simple yet powerful words resonated deeply with her, leaving an indelible mark on her heart.
CBS13 reporter Ashley Sharp asked Ennis what he felt in that moment.
Ennis expressed her deep gratitude for being able to assist in rescuing two individuals from such a devastating and seemingly hopeless situation. She vividly recalls the overwhelming sense of relief that came with realizing they had the means and resources to help those in need.
The mountain continues to beckon for these survivors, despite the tragic loss of Kenneth Kidd, a 66-year-old man from the Truckee area, and the injury of another individual in the avalanche.
Janet eagerly returned to the slopes the following morning, expressing her excitement to Ennis and Erskine about getting back out there and shredding it up once more.
Ennis embraced his friend with a heartfelt sentiment, expressing his desire for more joyous moments spent riding together. On Friday morning, the KT-22 run at Palisades was reopened.