Billings Man Remembers Being Caught in Avalanche - KULR8.com | News, Weather & Sports in Billings, Montana

Billings Man Remembers Being Caught in Avalanche

Posted: Updated:
BILLINGS, Mont. -

The Gallatin National Forest is currently at a high level for avalanche danger. People have been reported trapped and some killed. KULR-8 sat down with a man who remembered very vividly, the day he got caught up in an avalanche.

Scott Olson had been riding snowmobiles for years before he got caught in an avalanche on January 27, 2002 in Cooke City. Olson said he felt invincible before the avalanche that almost took his life. "Nothing was ever going to happen to me," Olson recalled thinking before the 2002 avalanche. He was riding snowmobiles with some friends when the avalanche started.

The day he got into the avalanche, he says Cooke City had just gotten a bunch of new snow. He told KULR-8 that he was following a few friends up some tracks. "As I come around this corner, it was really cloudy out and the sun broke. And I thought "Oh, that's weird." I'm not kidding, it was all snow, that came over this ridge." He said he couldn't go left because of the mountain and he couldn't go right because of some trees. He said he knew the area well enough that he figured he could get out. "I made it through the most part to those trees, but basically right when I got there, the avalanche hit me from the side and it kind of just washed me into the trees." Olson explained that his snowmobile then tipped upside down. He was able to catch the handle bars and hold on. "I'm thinking, "I'm in the safest place in the world." And this avalanche is literally rolling under my feet, and all of a sudden my grips broke." He fell into the trees snapping his leg. Even after that, the avalanche was still underneath Olson. He explained he was able to get his leg off the tree, but that's when, he fell into the avalanche. He said, "You're supposed to swim, you're supposed to fight, you're supposed to do everything you can to live. And I was doing everything I could other than the fact the tree wouldn't let you."  Eventually Olson came to a rest. "I went to move and I couldn't. The snow froze around me. It didn't crush me, it just froze around me." He said he tried to expand his diaphram, but when he tried to breath, his diaphram was already in. While he had hope someone would find him before running out of air, Olson said it really started setting in that he couldn't breathe. "This is it. We're done. If my friends can't get me out, we're done." Olson told KULR-8, 10 minutes later, he was found, but had no pulse and he was completely blue. Olson was revived soon after being found. He calls the experience humbling.

According to Olson, there are different severities of avalanches. He said the kind he got caught in was a powder slide, which means there was too much new snow on top of a bad layer of snow, "If there was a good avalanche to be in, as far as getting hit with it and getting hurt, the powder slide, I guess is the better one. It's a lighter snow. It's easier to deal with, evening just swimming. Had these trees not messed with me as I was going down the avalanche, I probably could've stayed on top."

While Olson still goes out on his snowmobile, he does take things that will help him if he ever gets caught in another avalanche. He along with many others have airbags. "It just makes you big, it's a volume thing. Had I had that in '02 when this happened, I still would've broken my leg, there's no doubt because it was immediate. The minute I fell off the snowmobile, my leg was around the tree. But, once I got going, had I pulled that, chances are I would've never really went down in the snow very deep." He said after everything ended, he doesn't think it would have been hard for his friends to locate him, if he had been in the air bag. Olson suggests not just snowmobilers, but skiers and snowboarders should also get airbags. Another thing Olson and his friends learned that nearly fateful day, was to always have a shovel on your body. "If your friend goes down, and your shovel is in your bike or your sled, your sled is somewhere else, or your bike is somewhere else. It's not going to do you any good to get your friend out, unless your shovel is right behind you."

Olson calls Cooke City the deadliest, or at least one of the deadliest towns, because of avalanches, in the world.

  • LocalMore>>

  • Billings South Side neighbors call for a safer community

    Billings South Side neighbors call for a safer community

    Tuesday, July 17 2018 11:52 PM EDT2018-07-18 03:52:41 GMT

    Max Hoffman is a resident of the Billings South Side but he's not just living there, he's cleaning it up. Max's rental company is renovating and updating rentals while still keeping rent affordable. One thing residents say Max can't change is the crime. Crime is the exact reason why many residents on the South Side said they no longer feel safe in their neighborhood. Shaynna Doucet, South Side resident, said: "We need a lot of change, I don't even want to be in Billings no mo...

    Max Hoffman is a resident of the Billings South Side but he's not just living there, he's cleaning it up. Max's rental company is renovating and updating rentals while still keeping rent affordable. One thing residents say Max can't change is the crime. Crime is the exact reason why many residents on the South Side said they no longer feel safe in their neighborhood. Shaynna Doucet, South Side resident, said: "We need a lot of change, I don't even want to be in Billings no mo...

  • Jane Goodall joins effort to keep grizzly hunt tickets out of hands of hunters

    Jane Goodall joins effort to keep grizzly hunt tickets out of hands of hunters

    Tuesday, July 17 2018 10:54 AM EDT2018-07-17 14:54:31 GMT

    According to a Tuesday report by National Geographic, environmentalist Jane Goodall is joining a group hoping to purchase grizzly hunt tickets in Wyoming.

    According to a Tuesday report by National Geographic, environmentalist Jane Goodall is joining a group hoping to purchase grizzly hunt tickets in Wyoming.

  • Two men on the run after Billings police chase

    Two men on the run after Billings police chase

    Tuesday, July 17 2018 5:45 AM EDT2018-07-17 09:45:14 GMT
    This morning one woman is in custody after a police chase in Billings early Tuesday. Law enforcement is still looking for two men who ran from the scene.  It happened just after 1 a.m. on the city's south side, near Orchard Lane and King Avenue East.  According to Montana Highway Patrol Trooper Kirk Robbins, he tried to pull a car over for wrong plates. The car tried to leave, and he pulled them over again on Orchard Lane. That's when the two men inside ran, and police ar...
    This morning one woman is in custody after a police chase in Billings early Tuesday. Law enforcement is still looking for two men who ran from the scene.  It happened just after 1 a.m. on the city's south side, near Orchard Lane and King Avenue East.  According to Montana Highway Patrol Trooper Kirk Robbins, he tried to pull a car over for wrong plates. The car tried to leave, and he pulled them over again on Orchard Lane. That's when the two men inside ran, and police ar...
  • Most Popular

  • Most Popular StoriesMost Popular StoriesMore>>

  • Two men on the run after Billings police chase

    Two men on the run after Billings police chase

    Tuesday, July 17 2018 5:45 AM EDT2018-07-17 09:45:14 GMT
    This morning one woman is in custody after a police chase in Billings early Tuesday. Law enforcement is still looking for two men who ran from the scene.  It happened just after 1 a.m. on the city's south side, near Orchard Lane and King Avenue East.  According to Montana Highway Patrol Trooper Kirk Robbins, he tried to pull a car over for wrong plates. The car tried to leave, and he pulled them over again on Orchard Lane. That's when the two men inside ran, and police ar...
    This morning one woman is in custody after a police chase in Billings early Tuesday. Law enforcement is still looking for two men who ran from the scene.  It happened just after 1 a.m. on the city's south side, near Orchard Lane and King Avenue East.  According to Montana Highway Patrol Trooper Kirk Robbins, he tried to pull a car over for wrong plates. The car tried to leave, and he pulled them over again on Orchard Lane. That's when the two men inside ran, and police ar...
  • Man charged with poaching three bull elk, one mule deer buck, and two antelope bucks

    Man charged with poaching three bull elk, one mule deer buck, and two antelope bucks

    Monday, July 16 2018 7:11 PM EDT2018-07-16 23:11:38 GMT

    22-year-old Brandon Schuhen of Yellowstone County has been charged with 5 felony counts of unlawful possession, shipping, or transportation of trophy big game animal.  A Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks (FWP) investigation showed on October 6, 2017, FWP Game Warden Conner Langel received a call of a decapitated bull elk on a property just off Sarpy Creek Road. FWP released a press release seeking information from the public. According to court documents, on October 15...

    22-year-old Brandon Schuhen of Yellowstone County has been charged with 5 felony counts of unlawful possession, shipping, or transportation of trophy big game animal.  A Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks (FWP) investigation showed on October 6, 2017, FWP Game Warden Conner Langel received a call of a decapitated bull elk on a property just off Sarpy Creek Road. FWP released a press release seeking information from the public. According to court documents, on October 15...

  • Mom blames teen's death on packaging for peanut cookies

    Mom blames teen's death on packaging for peanut cookies

    Tuesday, July 17 2018 1:34 PM EDT2018-07-17 17:34:26 GMT
    Kellie Travers-Stafford / FacebookKellie Travers-Stafford / Facebook
    Kellie Travers-Stafford / FacebookKellie Travers-Stafford / Facebook

    A Florida mother blames the death of her 15-year-old daughter on what she calls confusing packaging for Reese's Chips Ahoy cookies.

    A Florida mother blames the death of her 15-year-old daughter on what she calls confusing packaging for Reese's Chips Ahoy cookies.

  • Well-known Cody businessman, Joe Boydston, remembered after deadly motorcycle crash

    Well-known Cody businessman, Joe Boydston, remembered after deadly motorcycle crash

    Tuesday, July 17 2018 12:57 AM EDT2018-07-17 04:57:06 GMT

    People in Cody are honoring a well respected businessman Tuesday. Joe Boydston, owner of Joe’s Auto, was killed in a motorcycle accident north of Cody late last week.

    People in Cody are honoring a well respected businessman Tuesday. Joe Boydston, owner of Joe’s Auto, was killed in a motorcycle accident north of Cody late last week.

  • Day care owner gets probation for trying to kill child

    Day care owner gets probation for trying to kill child

    Monday, July 16 2018 7:55 PM EDT2018-07-16 23:55:44 GMT
    Photo: Hennepin County Sheriff’s OfficePhoto: Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office

    MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - A Minneapolis day care owner was sentenced to 10 years of probation for trying to kill a toddler in her home by hanging him from a noose.    Forty-three-year-old Nataliia Karia was sentenced Monday after earlier pleading guilty to attempted murder and third-degree assault.

    MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - A Minneapolis day care owner was sentenced to 10 years of probation for trying to kill a toddler in her home by hanging him from a noose.    Forty-three-year-old Nataliia Karia was sentenced Monday after earlier pleading guilty to attempted murder and third-degree assault.

  • WATCH: Wisconsin bicyclist falls through gap as drawbridge is opening

    WATCH: Wisconsin bicyclist falls through gap as drawbridge is opening

    Tuesday, July 17 2018 11:43 AM EDT2018-07-17 15:43:45 GMT

    MENASHA, Wis. - The Wisconsin Department of Transportation has released some jaw-dropping video showing a bicyclist who fell through a gap of a drawbridge as it was being raised to let a boat through.  The incident happened on July 4 after a fireworks show in Menasha, Wisconsin. The video shows the warning gates closed with lights flashing on the Racine Street Bridge as a woman on a bicycle rode past the gates and then fell through the gap.

    MENASHA, Wis. - The Wisconsin Department of Transportation has released some jaw-dropping video showing a bicyclist who fell through a gap of a drawbridge as it was being raised to let a boat through.  The incident happened on July 4 after a fireworks show in Menasha, Wisconsin. The video shows the warning gates closed with lights flashing on the Racine Street Bridge as a woman on a bicycle rode past the gates and then fell through the gap.

  • Police say Jermain Charlo disappearance could be kidnapping

    Police say Jermain Charlo disappearance could be kidnapping

    Tuesday, July 17 2018 6:02 PM EDT2018-07-17 22:02:48 GMT

    MISSOULA - Police released new information and new photos showing what Jermain Charlo was wearing before she disappeared on June 16 in Missoula. Det. Guy A. Baker said Tuesday that police are still searching for the woman, who was last seen near downtown Missoula late that Saturday night. 

    MISSOULA - Police released new information and new photos showing what Jermain Charlo was wearing before she disappeared on June 16 in Missoula. Det. Guy A. Baker said Tuesday that police are still searching for the woman, who was last seen near downtown Missoula late that Saturday night. 

  • Four heroin arrests made in Bozeman, 156 grams seized

    Four heroin arrests made in Bozeman, 156 grams seized

    Tuesday, July 17 2018 5:34 PM EDT2018-07-17 21:34:34 GMT

    Monday was a busy day for heroin busts in Bozeman, as four people in two cases were arrested for possessing the highly addictive drug.

    Monday was a busy day for heroin busts in Bozeman, as four people in two cases were arrested for possessing the highly addictive drug.