Winston Goss and his son, Ethan, are no strangers to Brundage Mountain Resort in McCall.
The two have taken the same route, by the same tree in Hidden Valley — a mostly ungroomed but in-bounds area of the resort — dozens of times. As a matter of fact, they had made the run at least once already on Feb. 5.
This time around, though, Ethan, 15, disappeared after a short hop off a jump.
Ethan fell head-first into a tree well, a depression in the snow that forms around the base of a tree. In deep, loose powder — or if a skier is inverted — tree wells can be deadly.
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Luckily for Ethan, Dad wasn’t far behind and calmly plucked him out. So calm, even, that he managed to capture the whole ordeal on video.
“It was scary for sure,” Winston Goss said.
It was enough of a scare to prompt Goss to revive his dormant Facebook account so he could share his video and warn others of the dangers.
“What you’re about to see is a very real threat, and there are many who die each year,” Goss wrote on his Facebook page. “Fortunately, I was there to pull my son out.”
By late Thursday afternoon, Goss’ video had 264,000 views and been shared more than 4,300 times.
“People need to know what these things are about. Unless it happens to you, you don’t understand the dangers,” Goss said.
Ethan was shaken (and so was Dad), but otherwise unhurt, by what he called a “near-death experience.”
They didn’t even cut short their ski day. “We went down to the lodge, then went back and did it again,” Goss said.
Tree well safety
▪ Avoid deep snow and tree areas: Beware of deep, ungroomed powder at the edges of groomed runs.
▪ Never go alone: Ski or ride with a partner and keep him or her in sight.
▪ Ski defensively: Choose to ski and board in areas with widely spaced trees. Remove your pole straps and carry a whistle or avalanche receiver.
▪ Fight to survive: If your head is covered in snow, make breathing room around your face. Stay calm and resist the urge to struggle violently.
Pacific Northwest Ski Areas Association