A snowboarder who went viral after being found buried alive in heavy snow has spoken for the first time about his dramatic brush with death.
Ian Steger said he wanted to tell his fiancé how much he loved her after he became submerged in a tree well of snow in Washington State on March 3.
Steger was saved by chance after skier Francis Zuber spotted his board poking out of the snow in an astonishing clip that has since gone viral.
Viewers were left impressed by Steger’s calm response to having his life saved as he is heard telling Zuber: ‘Thanks for that, man.’
A skier stumbled upon a snowboarder buried in a tree well of snow in Washington State and was able to dig them out in a remarkable rescue caught on video
Now the two men have reunited on-screen to discuss the March 3 incident.
‘You can see in that video that Francis was asking if I was okay.’ Steger told ABC7.
‘He was letting me know he was coming up to me. I didn’t hear any of that.
‘It was complete darkness. I could only hear, you know, the sound of my own breathing.’
Experts have said that Steger would have died had he not been uncovered by Zuber.
‘One of the things that I was thinking about while I was down there was like, wow, like, I’m going to die down here,’ Steger said.
‘And I’m not going to be able to, you know, tell my fiancé how much I love her.’
The snowboarder was trapped in a tree well in the Mt Baker Ski Area.
Zuber was skiing in the same part when he started to catch himself in deep powder.
In the video clip, he is seen quickly saving himself before he spots a snowboard sticking out of the deep snow.
Recounting the experience to ABC7, Zuber said: ‘I caught this little flash of red out of the corner of my eye.
‘And I knew it was kind of a weird thing to see because we’re out of bounds. I knew something was wrong. You know, I yelled up to him, and no response.’
The original video clip hears Zuber asking Steger ‘Are you alright?’
Francis Zuber was skiing at the Mt. Baker Ski Area in the northwest part of the state on March 3rd when he started to catch himself in deep powder
He’s able to get himself out but then he quickly puts the brakes on before departing when he sees a snowboard sticking out of the deep snow
Zuber quickly removes his skis so that he can maneuver over to the tree well – the space around a tree under its branches that does not get the same amount of snow as the surrounding open space – and attempt to rescue the snowboarder
He eventually digs out enough of the snowboarder that he can see his head covered in goggles as his arm slowly waves
He quickly removes his skis so that he can maneuver over to the tree well – the space around a tree under its branches that does not get the same amount of snow as the surrounding open space – and attempt to rescue the snowboarder.
Zuber digs with his hands, exclaiming: ‘Hold on, I’m coming!’
He eventually digs out enough of the snowboarder that he can see his head covered in goggles as his arm slowly waves.
‘You alright? Can you hear me?’ he asks, as a little more snow starts to fall and Zuber continues digging.
Eventually he’s able to reach the snowboarder’s face and can hear the buried man take a deep breath.
He says: ‘Thank you,’ to which Zuber replies: ‘Yeah, no problem.’
‘OK, you’re good, I got you,’ Zuber says. ‘Alright we’re both gonna catch our breath for a sec, then I’m gonna help dig you out, OK?’
Zuber starts to build an emergency shovel and dig and is finally able to get the snowboarder out.
He recounted the entire experience in an Instagram post that has already gotten over 2,000 likes.
Eventually Zuber is able to reach the snowboarder’s face and can hear the buried man take a deep breath
Zuber starts to build an emergency shovel and dig and is finally able to get the snowboarder out
Zuber eventually recounted the entire experience in an Instagram post that has already gotten over 2,000 likes
‘Tree wells are real,’ he wrote. ‘If you ski or snowboard, take a moment to watch. This happened a few weeks back at @themtbakerskiarea.’
‘The mountains don’t care how much skill or experience you have. They don’t even care if you and your ski partners are doing everything right,’ Zuber continued.
He also recommended that people take a class that will help them understand what to do in situations like the one he was in.
‘I’m thankful I knew just enough to scrape by and perform a successful rescue,’ Zuber said.
‘And always look out for each other out there.’
The snowboarder in peril has not been named or identified.
Zuber did add further detail about the snowboarder a few days ago in the comments of his viral post.
‘One detail I wanted to add that isn’t entirely clear in the video is that the snowboarder who was buried was with a different group,’ he said. ‘All very experienced riders, carrying proper avy gear and walkies.’
‘They took a route through the trees, planning to meet up on the other side, something we’ve all done countless times. It was complete chance I came across him.’
Tree wells are a reason the US Department of Agriculture Forest Service recommends those skiing or snowboarding always go with a partner.