GENEVA (Reuters) - A 19-year-old American skier survived more than 48 hours in the freezing Swiss Alps before being rescued and taken to hospital where he is recovering, police said on Wednesday.
Mark Doose, a student from a suburb of Chicago, Illinois who has been attending university in Lausanne, disappeared while skiing in the Les Diablerets resort on Sunday during a snowstorm but was only reported missing on Tuesday.
“I started following the supports for the chairlift, the gondola, and then it started to snow pretty hard, and I just ended up in this ravine,” he told Radio Television Suisse from his hospital bed in the canton of Berne.
“I just kept hiking down the ravine and tried to keep moving and stay warm.”
Doose, a former boy scout, said he spent Monday night in a small igloo he built for shelter against the minus 10 degrees Celsius temperatures.
“I slept about six hours and then crossed three very small ponds, the third one was up to my neck,” he said.
“The ravine just came to a waterfall ... There was no way down it. I was able to climb up one of the banks on the left side and at that point I was close enough to start yelling. I probably spent four or five hours just sitting there yelling.”
Alerted by passers-by, rescue workers found him on Tuesday afternoon, conscious but suffering from hypothermia and exhaustion and “stuck up to the waist in thick snow” in freezing temperatures, Vaud police said in a statement.
“When they first answered me, it was just incredible. That was definitely pretty emotional. Then I knew I was going to get out,” Doose said.
Sylvain Crampe, the first rescuer to reach him, told Swiss television: “I did a body check which allowed me to determine that he was in pretty good shape. I was very surprised.”
At least 11 people have died in the past four days in the Swiss Alps where there have been several avalanches, according to local media.
Reporting by Stephanie Nebehay; Editing by Andrew Roche