Woman shares story of surviving avalanche

Posted at 5:30 PM, Jan 16, 2013
and last updated 2013-01-17 12:34:38-05

SALT LAKE CITY - A 43-year-old Salt Lake woman says she survived an avalanche because her boyfriend had the right equipment and acted quickly.

Elisabeth Malloy says if Adam Morrey was buried by the same avalanche that swept her away, it would have been a much different outcome.

With tissue in hand, Morrey wiped away tears, reliving last Saturday.

“Our judgment was overwhelmed by the pursuit of having more fun,” said Morrey.

He and Malloy knew avalanche conditions were dangerous in Millcreek Canyon but pushed themselves to 9400 feet, and then… “I didn't hear the collapse but I saw the slab coming,” Malloy.

The two cross-country skiers triggered an avalanche 2-feet deep and more than two football fields wide. Malloy couldn't get out of its path.

“I was sliding face-first on my stomach downhill,” she said.

After the wall of snow carried her 800 feet, “I immediately called for Elisabeth and there was no response from her,” said Morrey.

“I had a small pocket of air I created with my arms and I decided the best situation was to meditate and breath slowly,” said Malloy.

“I got my backpack off, got my beacon out and there was a signal that reaffirmed she was buried somewhere,” said Morrey.

Malloy was trapped under a foot of snow for 5 minutes.

“I said to myself 'It's not time for me, this isn't it and Adam will find me.' I had this feeling I was going to be fine," she said.

She was right. Adam used an avalanche shovel to dig her out and rescue crews airlifted her to the University of Utah Medical Center.

“Looking back at it, it was miraculous, it was amazing,” said Malloy.

Despite suffering frostbite to her right hand and foot, doctors say she'll fully recover and Malloy says she'll ski the back country again.

“It's who I am.”

However, she'll be better prepared and hopes others will learn from her survival.

“Educate yourselves, take classes, have the equipment and choose your touring partners wisely.”

Elisabeth Malloy was released from the hospital on Wednesday, only 4 days after being buried by the avalanche.