Juneau snowboarder triggers avalanche, survives

A 28-year-old snowboarder survived after being swept up in an avalanche near a Juneau ski area Saturday.

Alaska State Troopers said Monday the snowboarder, Juneau resident Ryland Buller, suffered minor injuries.

Just before 1 p.m., a ski patroller at Eaglecrest Ski Area witnessed a snowboarder trigger an avalanche on a steep slope outside of the ski area's boundaries.

"It knocked him off his feet," said Brian Davies, the head of snow safety at Eaglecrest. "His momentum carried him, it flushed him down a very narrow rocky gully."

Witnesses saw the man go into a swirl of fast-moving snow and didn't see him come out. He was able to get out of the gully and walk to a waiting ambulance, said Davies. He was taken to a hospital with "skeletal injuries," he said.

The ski area had seen a welcome dump of powder last week, with bluebird skies and north winds. Skiers and snowboarders are allowed to cross the boundaries of Eaglecrest to backcountry ski on state Department of Natural Resources land, but they are cautioned to be careful, Davies said.

"It comes with good decision-making," Davies said.

Michelle Theriault Boots

Michelle Theriault Boots is a reporter who covers news and features about life in Alaska, and has been focusing on corrections and psychiatric care issues in the state. Contact her at mtheriault@adn.com.