A man who narrowly survived a devastating series of avalanches has spoken of his “gut wrenching” decision to leave eight friends buried under the snow. Jeff Adams and two other survivors abandoned efforts to rescue their lifelong friends in order to save their own lives. Eleven men, all from the small mining town of Sparwood in British Columbia, were on a snowmobile expedition in the Canadian Rockies on Sunday when one of their vehicles became stuck. As they tried to free it, an avalanche swept down burying seven of them, including Mr Adams.
The four still on the surface began to dig the others out. But moments later a second avalanche came down at 93mph, burying everyone in a 15ft high wall of snow. Close to the surface, Mr Adams was able to pull himself, choking, out of the snow and helped free another man, Jeremy Rusnak. Their gloves and equipment now buried under the snow, the pair were trying to free a third man, James Drake, when yet another avalanche came down, forcing them to flee. “He was saying, ‘Don’t leave me here, don’t leave me here,’ and we kept saying, ‘we’re sorry’,” he recalled.
The third avalanche narrowly missed them and they were able to go back and dig Mr Drake out. But, with more avalanches likely, the three realised that their position was increasingly precarious. “It was unsafe to go in there and that’s when we had to make the gut-wrenching decision to leave our eight friends and start walking off the mountain,” he said. They returned by helicopter to help rescuers pinpoint the spot where their friends were but it was too late and the other eight men were dead.