Tree wells are absolutely terrifying. They form because branches block snowfall from accumulating around the base of trees, creating a pit-like area around their trunks.
If you ski through one, you will sink. People lose skis and poles in tree wells all the time. People get lost in them, too. If you’re buried in one, it can be as bad as an avalanche.
That’s exactly what happens to the snowboarder in this video. The two partners are ripping through some fresh snow, deep in the backcountry somewhere when disaster strikes. The boarder in front eats it — falling directly into a monstrous tree well. His friend quickly jumps into action and starts digging. Every second is one of total panic.
But he gets his friend out. He pulls his head out of the snow and immediately takes a huge breath.
In this case, the victim’s friend acted fast enough to unbury him before he lost consciousness. But that doesn’t mean it wasn’t a close call. If the unburied skier hadn’t seen his friend’s board sticking out of the snow, if he’d gone left or right instead of straight through the trees, he would have missed him. And the outcome would have been much different.
It just highlights the importance of keeping close tabs on your ski partners in the backcountry. Stay safe out there, folks. And stay outta tree wells!