Tahoe Skier Escapes Avalanche by Launching Off 100-Foot Cliff

Cliff where the avalanche occurred

A Tahoe skier found himself trapped between a 100-foot cliff and an avalanche. He opted for the cliff.

Kyle Johnston was skiing in the Tahoe backcountry near Blue Lakes with his cousin Josh Daiek on February 12 when an avalanche was triggered just above him. The two had devised an escape plan in case of such occurrence but due to his location, he was forced off the cliff.

“Due to the way the avalanche broke, it broke above me and not below me. I just got really lucky, simply put. Where it was taking me, if I had gone with it, was taking me to where I felt a really bad outcome,” Johnston said to KRON4.

He landed at the bottom and was knocked unconscious, eventually being pushed 200 yards down the hill by the rushing snow. Eventually, Daiek dug him out of the snow and was rushed via helicopter to a Reno hospital for treatment.

South Lake Tahoe resident Kyle Johnston with his dog Buddy.

Johnston’s 11-day stint in the hospital included two surgeries. He suffered from a punctured right lung and bruising on both, a concussion, broken spinal segments and several broken ribs.

“It could have ended my time on this earth, it seems like a distant dream. I am thankful I am alive and thankful for my cousin, family, careflight and everyone involved. Words can’t express my gratitude for my cousin saving my life, my girlfriend being by my side and my community,” Johnston said to the Tahoe Daily Tribune. “It is pretty emotional and it brought me to tears to think about how many people have reached out to me in this town both those I know and those who I don’t know. I want to make sure this town knows how thankful I am for everything. It’s been moving to have the support of this town. I am looking forward to getting back out there.”

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