A 32-year-old man recovering at Vancouver General Hospital after being caught in an avalanche said yesterday he’s eager to pick up his snowboard and return to the slopes next winter.
Ryan “Rusty” Coates has a broken ankle, a few fractures in his right foot and a crack in his back, along with minor injuries.
On Friday, Coates and two friends ignored avalanche warnings and headed to an area in the Central Kootenays where they have been skiing and snowboarding for 12 years with no previous accidents.
“Yup, yup, we knew about the warning,” Coates said. “We decided to go into the trees, then we hit the bowl.”
At about 4 p.m. that day the three friends looked up to see a wave of snow rushing down on them.
“I was on the snow level, pinned between two trees,” Coates said. “I was stuck, hanging upside-down, looking at the snow.”
While Coates was stuck in a tree, his friends escaped and called for help.
“It took a while for the snowboard to snap. The pressure from the snow eventually did it, smashing my ankle with it when (the snowboard) broke.”
A heli-skiing company responded to the call for assistance and flew trained guides to the scene before nightfall. Coates was towed in a snowmobile trailer and was airlifted to VGH.
“I find myself really lucky, I still can’t believe it happened,” Coates said.
According to his brother, Rob Coates, 34, it’ll be at least three months before his sibling completes physiotherapy treatments and returns home to Nelson.