Avalanche airbag deployed as man, dog survive Mt Baker slide

John Towne, his dog, and a couple friends were riding the backcountry at Mount Baker in early January 2017 when an avalanche broke. He was in the middle of it and quickly started to sink.

“Thankfully,” John says, “I invested in your Float 32 airbag backpack. I deployed it, and it kept me on the surface.”

John has shared his avalanche survival story, along with photos and this video he made at the avalanche site after it occurred to raise avalanche awareness with other backcountry skiers.

Mt. Baker avalanche airbag deployment saves man in slide from Backcountry Access on Vimeo.

“I’m highly recommending your airbags to all my friends and now I have this scary situation to use as a learning and teaching experience,” reported John.

“I’m thankful for companies like BCA making the mountains a safer place,” said John.


The Northwest Avalanche Center avalanche forecast on the day of the avalanche was:

Dangerous avalanche conditions. Careful snowpack evaluation, cautious route-finding and conservative decision-making essential.  Consistent observations were received on New Year’s Day from three NWAC pro-observer’s out enjoying the after champagne, champagne powder! Their reports from the Mt Baker area, Stevens Pass and the Alpental Valley all indicated deep, low density surface conditions, right side profiles and good skiing. Crusts layers were buried fairly deeply and unreactive in tests (Solstice crust at Snoqualmie buried 90 cm on average).  East winds began to affect some areas by Monday. The NPS ranger at Paradise on Monday reported low visibility with significant snow transport to SW-W slopes on Monday. Shallow wind slabs were easily ski triggered on west aspects near treeline at White Pass Monday afternoon.

At BCA, we never ‘armchair quarterback’ after an avalanche incident has occurred.  But it is informative to see John’s video and to read the NWAC avalanche forecast that day — and we thank John for sharing the event.