California avalanche survivor describes trying to flee snow 'tsunami' on snowboard

A San Francisco snowboarder who had a near-death experience buried in an avalanche described what it was like trying to outrace a snow “tsunami.”

Evan Huck was snowboarding Friday at Squaw Valley Ski Resort near Lake Tahoe in northern California with his wife, Kahlynn, when he heard someone yell. He turned to see an “eight foot wall of snow” roaring down the mountain behind him ― a snow “tsunami.”

It “hit us in about a second,” Huck told ABC7-TV Saturday. He was instantly buried.

“I was conscious for about 45 seconds while I was under the snow at first, then I kind of ran out of oxygen and passed out,” said Huck.

Meanwhile, his wife managed to free herself from the snow. “I was inconsolable, I was hysterical. I was wondering if that was it and my husband was gone,” said Kahlynn.

Evan’s snowboard tip was sticking out of the snow and nearby skiers  immediately began digging for him in a rescue that was captured in a video and posted on Twitter. Huck said he believes he was buried for up to six minutes.

As soon as his face was uncovered, “he opened his eyes and looked right at me and said, ‘Where’s my wife?’” skier Joe Breault told ABC7.

Huck thanked his rescuers for “being heroes and saving my life.”

Five people were buried in the avalanche. Two were taken to a nearby hospital with non-life threatening injuries. The Hucks walked away and planned to continue their snowboarding vacation.

The avalanche occurred amid a powerful blizzard that brought winds gusting to 150 mph on the summits and up to seven feet of snow over the space of a few days to ski hills in California’s Sierra Nevada range.

Two snowboarders at resorts in the area died during the severe weather. Snowboarder Wenyu Zhang, 42, was found dead at Squaw Valley Friday morning before the avalanche.

Another snowboarder, Blake Smith, 36, died Friday at the China Peak Ski Resort 65 miles northeast of Fresno. He apparently fell head-first into deep snow and suffocated before he could get out, police said. 

Mammoth Ski Resort in the Sierras, about 300 miles north of Los Angeles, also had a major avalanche Saturday morning. Three people partially buried managed to free themselves, and the resort was reopened on Sunday.

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Early 2018 winter weather across the US
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Early 2018 winter weather across the US
CHICAGO, USA - JANUARY 20: A view of the frozen trees and ornamentals at Whihala Beach Park with the impact of surges and extremely cold weather in Chicago, Illionis, United States on January 20, 2018. (Photo by Bilgin S. Sasmaz/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
ILLIONIS, USA - JANUARY 12: Huge waves crash onto the sidewalk of the Lake Michigan as strong winds drive huge waves reaching about 6 meters high along the Chicago shoreline after the heavy snowfall and strong winds hit Indiana, in Chicago, United States on January 12, 2018. (Photo by Bilgin S. Sasmaz/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - JANUARY 9: The U.S. Capitol dome is seen surrounded by fog Tuesday morning, Jan. 9, 2018. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
UNITED STATES - JANUARY 23: Storm clouds pass over the dome of the U.S. Capitol building on Tuesday, Jan. 23, 2018. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
NEW YORK, USA - JANUARY 09: Crowd of people skate on the ice rink during cold weather following snow days at the Central Park in New York City, United States on January 09, 2018. (Photo by Atilgan Ozdil/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, USA - JANUARY 09: City staff members shovel snow during cold weather following snow days at the Central Park in New York City, United States on January 09, 2018. (Photo by Atilgan Ozdil/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - JANUARY 08: A visitor from Vietnam makes his way across the frozen Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool on January 8, 2018. A member of the National Park Service subsequently told people to leave the ice and said that 12 people had recently fallen through. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
CHICAGO, USA - JANUARY 6: A view of the coast of Michigan lake frozen due to the extremely cold weather reaching minus 20 in the nights hits Chicago, Illionis, United States on January 6, 2018. (Photo by Bilgin S. Sasmaz/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, USA - JANUARY 6: A view of the coast of Michigan lake frozen due to the extremely cold weather reaching minus 20 in the nights hits Chicago, Illionis, United States on January 6, 2018. (Photo by Bilgin S. Sasmaz/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, USA - JANUARY 6: A view of ice floating over the frozen Chicago river as extremely cold weather reaching minus 20 in the nights hits Chicago, Illionis, United States on January 6, 2018. (Photo by Bilgin S. Sasmaz/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JANUARY 06: A man walks around Central Park during freezing temperatures on January 06, 2018 in New York City. The extreme conditions suffered across the United States are a result of the 'bomb cyclone' brought along by Storm Grayson. (Photo by Eduardo Munoz Alvarez/Getty Images)
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  • This article originally appeared on HuffPost.
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