Elisabeth Malloy was hiking in the backcountry of Mill Creek Canyon to enjoy backcountry skiing with her friend Adam Morrey.
Somehow they triggered an avalanche 700 feet wide and two feet deep.
The falling snow swallowed Elisabeth’s body and pushed her down the mountain about 100 feet. She described the ride like swimming in water and perfectly smooth and said her face and body were pointed to the ground and down the mountain.
Sometime during the ride she said her right boot and ski fell off her body leaving her foot exposed to the cold snow.
When she stopped she could not move. She felt like panicking for a fraction of a second and then realized it would do no good and then allowed calm to envelop her body. She focused on breathing in through her nose and out her mouth. She says she was able to reach a mental state of comfort and confidence that she would survive.
She was able to survive because she had trapped a pocket of air near her head with her hands during the slide.
Adam Morrey found himself above the snow when the avalanche stopped. He started to sob as her recalled the first moments after Elisabeth didn’t return his calls.
Her life was saved because she wore an avalanche beacon. Morrey quickly pulled out his beacon receiver and found her after making three quick passes over the snow.
He dug down and found her body turning purple. He was able to get air to mouth and lungs, but despite this he says she stopped breathing for a brief moment after he was able to free her from the snow.
Once breath returned to her body Adam pulled three jackets from her backpack and put them on her body. He also wrapped a down jacket around her foot with nothing but thick socks for protection from the cold.
After a two hour hike off the mountain Elisabeth was flown to the University of Utah Burn Center. The Center specialized in treating patients with damaged tissue caused by both heat and cold.
Surgeon and frostbite expert Amalia Cochran says the treatments at the hospital saved Elisabeth’s right fingers and toes from amputation. Cochran says Malloy made great progress in the first 30 hours of her recovery.
Malloy was released from the hospital Wednesday only four days after she was buried alive. She’s expected to make a full recovery and would like to return to backcountry skiing when she fully recovers.