Bend man survives Tumalo Mtn. avalanche

Buried knee-deep, he digs himself out

Bend man survives avalanche

BEND, Ore. - A Bend man was able to dig himself out of an avalanche at Tumalo Mountain over the weekend -- and knows how fortunate he was to not be seriously injured, or worse.

Zach Violett found himself partially trapped in an avalanche at the mountain west of Bend Saturday morning.

Violett said Tuesday he was buried knee-deep, but was able to dig himself out.

He wanted to go back-country skiing to enjoy the new powder brought by the storm. All was going well for him and two friends, when suddenly he felt a movement halfway down the hill -- that wasn't generated by his skis.

"My first reaction was to try and outrun it and get out of the way, and I just couldn't do it," Violett said. "There was so much snow that was moving really slow, so it was kind of just, brace for impact and hope it turns out well."

That's when he started tumbling down the mountain. Luckily, he ended right side up, which allowed him to dig out. 

Safety on the mountain is a current concern of the Central Oregon Avalanche Association, due to heavy snow becoming displaced when the weather gets warmer.

"That can unsettle a snowpack and make it unstable, so you want to look out for those things," said Jon Tapper, director of  the association.

The organization lets people post reports on their website when they see unsafe areas, to warn other mountain goers of the danger.

"It is moment-to-moment and location-to-location kind of issue that people need to be aware of," Tapper said.

Violett acknowledges that he didn't take the proper precautions, and was lucky to come out unharmed.

"People, be safe out there," Violett warned. "It's easy to say, 'It's just Tumalo Mountain. It's a small slope, everyone skis it daily.' But it's still dangerous. Don't get lazy, because that's what we did -- and it could have been a lot worse than it was."

The Central Oregon Avalanche Association hosts a 90-minute "Know Before You Go" informal avalanche training program on the third Wednesday of every month at Broken Top Bottle Shop.

For more information on it visit

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