Charlottetown native Bryon Howard and his wife, Shirley Wright, had just finished skiing at Lake Louise in Alberta last week when he heard a sound no skier wants to hear — the rumble of an avalanche.
“I was taking a nice video for my running group and all of a sudden ... crash,’’ Howard told The Guardian in a telephone interview.
“I look over to my left and the snow is barrelling down at me. I was thinking, OK, I had better run.’’
His experience has since gone viral on the internet, with Howard’s avalanche encounter featured on an MSN newsfeed on the USA Today website.
Howard grew up in Sherwood and Rustico on the Island. He and Shirley decided to move out west in 2003 where he currently sells real estate for Remax.
The couple was staying at a Lake Louise resort. Before checking in, they decided to go for a ski and a run because they’re both part of a Strides Run Streak which means they are committed to running one mile every day in December.
“I was taking a nice video for my running group and all of a sudden . . . crash. I look over to my left and the snow is barrelling down at me. I was thinking, OK, I had better run.’’
They were on a walking/running trail when the avalanche happened. Just before Howard and Wright heard the rumble of the snow, they spotted a sign that read "Use avalanche gear beyond this point", almost a foreshadowing of what was about to happen.
The couple walked a bit further thinking there was no risk.
And then he saw it.
“I’m on the north side of the lake, and it’s obviously coming from the south side of the lake towards me. There’s 800 metres (of space across the lake), so I’m thinking there’s no way that it can come down the mountain and across the lane and engulf me. It was really moving quickly and I was thinking, ‘this is going to be a huge avalanche.’’
It’s at this point Howard decided to get his phone out and record the event. He said Shirley was a couple of hundred metres behind him at the time.
“That’s the cool part, getting the shot. What you see (on my video) is just a powder cloud, the front of the avalanche. It engulfed me and then it stopped and settled down and (things went) back to normal.’’
Other than the cloud of snow that surrounded him like a mist, all Howard had to show for it when it was all said and done was a trace of snow on his shoulders.
Howard said at no time did he ever think he and his wife were ever in danger.
“I really did not think I was dying right there,’’ he said matter-of-factly.
“I don’t think it ever occurred to me that my life was in danger ... I was never freaking out.’’