Man Describes The '14 Seconds Of Mayhem' Before His Legs Were Destroyed In A Skiing Accident

Arc'teryxVeteran backcountry skier Roger Strong lives to tell his story after an avalanche nearly killed him.

Photo: Arc’teryx

Roger Strong has more than 42 years of skiing experience under his belt. But even a lifetime of training on the slopes is no match for an avalanche.

In April 2011, Roger was climbing up his favourite backcountry run when he triggered a snow slide that hurled him and two of his friends several hundred feet down the mountain.

See Roger’s incredible story > 
Roger’s horizontal skis were clotheslined by a tree, and his tibias, the bone that connects the knee to the ankle, were ripped from his femurs.

Over the past decade an average of 25 people died each year in avalanches in the United States. The list of fatalities has ballooned in the last half-century alongside the growth of ski tourism.  

Fortunately Roger survived. He returned to the spot that mangled his legs and bound him to a wheelchair for more than three months exactly one year after the horrific accident

Roger’s memory of that terrifying day — and inspiring recovery — are chronicled in a short film by ARC’TERYX. 

April 6, 2011, started out as a standard skiing day on Mount Snoqualmie in Washington.

Roger and four friends, all experienced backcountry skiers, hit the trail at around 6 a.m.

Backcountry skiing generally refers to skiing ungroomed snow, outside of designated ski resorts. It is therefore more challenging and more dangerous.

Before leaving, Roger decided to take a look at Slot Couloir, a steep and narrow gulley, that runs down Mount Snoqualmie.

The last thing Roger remembers is shoving his avalung in his mouth, a device used in avalanche terrain to prevent the wearer from suffocating if they are buried. He recalls looking at his friend Drew and believing he was going to die.

He tumbled head-first through trees as snow rushed over his face. His arms swung out and for a moment he started to maintain control. Then, it all stopped.

This is the tree that ripped Rogers tibias (the lower bones of the leg) from his femurs, the bone in the thigh.

The ligaments in Roger's knees were torn. He spent about three and a half months in a wheelchair.

Roger is lucky to be alive. He says he was surprised he didn't break his neck and body in half.

Although Roger has his family to think about — he has a wife and a young daughter — even a brush with death can't keep him away from the mountains he loves.

Roger grew up skiing with his family in Denver, Colorado. It is his true passion.

Roger returns to the scene of the accident exactly one year after the avalanche.

This overweight Australian businessman faces a different kind of challenge.

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