Aside from your brain, training, and good judgment, the most important tool in staying alive in avalanche terrain is becoming the inflatable backpack. Working much like the airbags in your car, backpacks like the Backcountry Access Float 30, seen here in action, are deployed when the user pulls a handle, triggering a canister of compressed air and inflating a giant balloon that works to keep you on the surface of the snow.
Avalanche airbags are no guarantee of saving your ass, but studies in Europe show a dramatic increase in survival rates over non-airbag use. And that’s something Jeff Wyshynski will no doubt agree with. His POV camera captured him getting caught by this not-small slide in Alaska. It shows the mayhem of a tumble through debris and, while you don’t actually see the bag deploy, you see him end up on top of the snowpack with a giant balloon shadow above him. A scary incident with a happy ending, to be sure.