This month's record snowfall in the West has created a winter paradise, but it's also unleashed dangerous avalanches.
In British Columbia, anmore than two days after an avalanche buried a group of snowmobilers. Eleven had been buried in the snow. Three dug themselves out, including one young man too overcome to speak to reporters.
"He lost eight of his friends and he is going through a lot of inner turmoil now, as you can expect, questioning why he is here and not them," observed Cpl. Chris Faulkner of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.
Walls of snow can travel more than 200 miles an hour, points out Early Show National Correspondent Hatti Kauffman, and often, it's the expert skiers and snow boarders who venture out of bounds, thinking they can handle any conditions.
But, Kauffman adds, no matter how good you are, you can't out run an avalanche.
Jason Durtchi can testify to that. He was caught in an avalanche in Utah several years ago.
"We look up and we see this two hundred foot wall of snow and powder heading toward us," he told Kauffman. "It carried us down, probably about, maybe 300 feet, maybe 400, and totally disoriented, head-over-heels. ... You really are confronting your life and death."
Strangers dug him out, but three others died that day.
Sports retailers encourage the adventurous to carry a snow shovel, and a transceiver to send a signal if you're buried under snow, but those who died in British Columbia had taken precautions.
Sometimes, Kauffman concluded, a collapsing mountain of snow is just too fast.