Snowboarder Maurice Kervin was heading downhill in the Colorado backcountry when the slope spun out of control.

By Rachel Chang
January 19, 2021
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What started as a day of outdoor adventure for 25-year-old Denver snowboarder Maurice Kervin turned into a harrowing story, as he survived an avalanche in the Colorado backcountry. His video camera caught the entire incident — and now he's shared the raw footage on Instagram to show the dangers of how quickly conditions can turn.

Kervin started skiing when he was about four or five years old and was adept at monitoring conditions and carrying essential life-saving equipment before heading down Summit County's No Name Peak near Loveland Pass on Jan. 8, according to CNN.

While his trip down the hill started out normally, about 50 seconds into the clip, the situation turned dire as blocks of snow began streaming down the slope, at some points even appearing like powerful river rapids. Kervin told the news outlet that he knew something was wrong when unusual cracks formed below him. "The snow is breaking into blocks, essentially, and it looks like shooting cracks or spider webs in front of you in the snow as it, like, breaks apart," he told CNN. The powerful snow took away his control, forcing him to tumble about 1,000 feet, so he turned to his safety equipment. "I dropped my ax and my camera that was in my back hand and pulled my airbag, which helped me float above the snow. I was able to get my feet above the snow after going off a small cliff and able to float on top of the snow until I came to a stop."

mountain peaks in Colorado
Credit: Helen H. Richardson/Getty

About 1:16 into the video, he's heard communicating to a companion, saying, "I'm fine. I'm not hurt at all," and repeating, "I'm good," with a sense of disbelief. He also noted that he lost his GoPro, which was seen on a selfie stick in the early part of the footage.

Avalanches are not uncommon — there are approximately 4,000 each year, according to the Colorado Avalanche Information Center (CAIC), with an average of 27 people losing their lives a year in the last decade in the U.S. Many avalanches are triggered by humans. The CAIC director told CNN that two people were caught in avalanches the day of Kervin's incident — and that Kervin started one of them.

"I was in awe of how big it was, and very thankful that I was alive, honestly, or not buried, not fatally injured," Kervin, a cryptocurrency investor, told CNN. "The magnitude of it was definitely enough to bury you, mangle you, or possibly kill you. It was very intense." But he's also adamant about making others aware of the potential dangers, especially on backcountry slopes. "I'm not going to condone anybody trying to go do what I did. That's my own personal choice. Be safe in the backcountry and understand risk assessment and where you stand."

After sharing the footage on his Instagram account on Jan. 10, Kervin has continued posting videos and photos of his snowboarding experiences, including a "fun little ride sesh" yesterday.