Bobby White and Josh Trujillo, two college students from Colorado, were backcountry skiing in Berthoud Pass when they noticed a cloud of snow erupt – which is a sign of an avalanche.
They skied over to the avalanche debris where he came across another group of people.
Every person was accounted for, but they heard that a dog had been caught and buried in a debris field.
The dog, a 2-year-old Chesapeake Bay retriever named Apollo, ran away from its human, Scott Shepherd, above a steep, rocky slope, which triggered the avalanche, and the dog was swept over the cliff and through several trees before vanishing into the snow.
“He started moving, and he just looked confused like, ‘Why am I sliding down the hill?’ And then he was just gone,” Scott told ABC News.
Scott couldn’t see where the dog had gone, and when he climbed down to begin searching he noticed Josh and Bobby.
The two students took out their avalanche beacons and their search for the dog began.
Using 8-feet-long probe poles, they poked around the snow hoping to find the poor pooch.
“Needle in a haystack,” Bobby is heard shouting in the video.
“Where did you see him last?” They ask Scott.
“Way at the top,” he responded.
The search went on for around 20 minutes.
93% of human avalanche victims can be recovered alive if they are found within a 15 minute period, according to the Utah Avalanche Center,
“But then the numbers drop catastrophically,” their website says, going as low as 20-30% after 45 minutes.
“I think we need to get out of here,” Bobby says to Josh.
“That dog is dead. This is why I don’t like dogs in avalanche terrain to begin with. We’re all like probing underneath the worst avalanche terrain in Berthoud right now.”
But just two minutes later, they spot a nose sticking out of the snow!
“I found him! I found him, I found him, I found him!” he shouts. “I can see him. He’s still alive.”
“We’re coming, buddy,” Bobby says to the dog.
After some digging, the dog wriggles free from the snow and leaps about with no signs of injury other than a slight limp.
“You OK, buddy? A little scared?” Bobby is heard saying to the dog as it runs towards Scott.
“There’s no way I would have found him in time to get him out there because I was still way up the slope, making my way around,” Scott told ABC News.
“I think they saved his life, and I can never be grateful enough for that.”
After resting and visiting the vet, Apollo the dog is back to his usual self with no signs of injury.
“A lot of tears and hugs, and he got a lot of love for the next couple of days,” Scott said.
Scott took full responsibility for the incident, saying he regrets veering off-course and putting his dog in danger near the avalanche-prone slopes.
“I feel like I got kind of got away with something that has such a huge lesson without huge consequences,” Scott said.
“Like, he could have been lost forever. I thought the best case was that he was seriously injured, but nothing happened at all. It just still blows my mind.”
“Everybody knows that [backcountry skiing] is dangerous and everybody takes precautions. But just realizing how one stupid little mistake could have drastic consequences, it kind of drives it home.” he continued.
“It doesn’t take much to steer off the course from safety to disaster.”
Josh told ABC News he and Bobby have plans to educate themselves further on avalanche safety.
They plan to “avoid dangerous spots on crowded days because we were very smart about our day and still got put in danger due to circumstances beyond our control.”
“Also, no dogs in the backcountry,” Josh said.