mountain climber holding on with ice axe as avalanche passes over him
instagram | @nemonisky

Mountain Climber Barely Hangs On As Avalanche Passes Over Him In Tense Video

With how easy it is to record everything nowadays, recent years have given us a direct look into tense situations that we used to just hear recounted in stories by their survivors.

And not only do these clips teach us that our friends weren't embellishing their scariest stories as much as we may have thought, but they also give us a firsthand look at the hazards we may have only understood to be dangerous in the abstract.

Sometimes, these dangers come from other people and embarrassingly, they can also put the extreme consequences of our most ill-advised actions on display. But while nature is beautiful, it's easy to underestimate just how dangerous it can be when its power crosses our paths at the wrong time.

That was a situation one mountain climber faced and it was only because he knew what he was doing that he lived to tell about it.

On February 8, Colorado-based climber Leland Nisky took a day off work to tackle a mountain known as The Ribbon for the first time.

mountain climber hanging from mountainside with ice axes
instagram | @nemonisky

As he told Climbing magazine, this is a mountain known for its avalanches. But since there wasn't supposed to be much risk of that at the time and since people had successfully climbed it in the several weeks leading up to his excursion, Nisky figured he'd be safe.

And at first, The Ribbon seemed like a treat to climb as the weather was lovely and the mountain's ice made for some of the best climbing he had all season.

However, what Nisky didn't know was that the point he had reached about 400 feet up the mountain was directly under a large natural bowl that was filled with "loose facets."

mountain climber holding on with ice axe as avalanche passes over him
instagram | @nemonisky

As we can see here, this meant that the area was more prone to releasing large volumes of snow than the rest of the mountain and Nisky found himself hanging off The Ribbon's side during an avalanche.

And since he had just been switching hands to embed the tool we can barely see here, the gust of wind that started the snowfall couldn't have come at a worse time.

Nisky had been partially buried in an avalanche years ago and he said the terror he experienced then instantly came flooding back to him.

ice axe poking out from avalanche
instagram | @nemonisky

But after he swung wildly to dig his second tool into the ice, he knew he had to try his best to calm down.

In his words, "I knew if I stayed terrified I probably would die, so I concentrated on controlling my breathing, hugging in tight to the wall to prevent snow buildup on my body, and tucked my head down to breathe a little air bubble."

Once he did this, he was able to get his second tool into place just as immense pressure was bearing down on him.

As chunks of snow struck his body and his gear, Nisky continued to focus on his breathing and on his grip.

As he said in this caption of the Instagram post that featured this video, "Took absolutely every ounce of strength I could muster to keep holding onto my tools."

He also figured that if he was hit with any more force during that perilous two minutes, he wouldn't have made it.

As he put it, "I feel incredibly lucky. Lucky that there wasn’t any more force hitting me, lucky that the anchor was nearby, lucky that I studied fear psychology in college and learned breathing techniques to keep my heart rate down."

h/t: Climbing

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