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Parents: The gods were with skier who survived Alaska avalanche

Posted: Tuesday, February 26, 2008

PORTLAND, Ore. - His parents say Ian Wilson did the right things to survive an avalanche in Alaska, but he could have died anyway.

"Let's face it. The gods were with him on that one," said Steve Wilson of Portland.

He and Barbara Wilson talked to their 24-year-old son Saturday night after he and a number of reporters left voice messages for them.

Ian Wilson was buried under 4 feet of snow about 65 miles outside Anchorage for about 40 minutes. When searchers pulled him out, he was blue and unconscious.

But he quickly revived and apparently suffered no injuries.

"He seemed very measured in his conversation," Steve Wilson told The Oregonian newspaper. "Of course, he didn't want to worry us. He's a great kid."

Father and son both are mountaineers, the paper said. Ian Wilson works at a wilderness therapy camp in Idaho and used time off to meet up with college friends in Alaska.

His father said Ian Wilson and his group climbed a slope that had tracks where others had skied.

The skiers went downhill one at a time so that only one was exposed if an avalanche hit. At the bottom, each skier took cover.

When it was Ian's turn, the avalanche was unleashed, his father said.

Ian tried to "ride it out," skiing 700 feet atop the moving snow, his father said. But, eventually, the snow covered him.

He said later that he tried to keep his poles up so that his friends could find him.

"At first he was quite concerned," his father said. "But his sense was that he had to remain calm."

Ian Wilson was carrying a beacon, and it enabled his friends to find him quickly.

"It saved his life. There's no way they could have gotten him without the beacon," Steve Wilson said.



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