Beacon of Hope: How One Device Saved a Snowkiter's Life

wave decor
1 lives saved
Crash or collision
Snow sports
Rescue location
74930 Reignier-Esery, France 46.138178°N, 6.2666019°E
Rescue team
Local Search and Rescue
Rescue duration

What happened?

We began at 9:20 a.m., filled with excitement and the promise of adventure. As we prepared to embark on our snowkiting expedition, our walkie-talkies failed to function, leaving us disconnected from communication. Despite this setback, we remained enthusiastic, leaving the malfunctioning devices behind as we set out from Finse – A decision that could have a changed the course of the rescue when my life was saved.

Encountering Mika and a fellow kiter equipped with an 8m2 kite, we found reassurance in their preparedness and decided to follow their lead. The absence of wind at the onset of our journey seemed inconsequential, but little did we know that nature had more in store for us.

As we rigged our equipment and prepared to launch, a moment of doubt crept in as the wind began to pick up unexpectedly. However, with Corrado leading the way, his GPS providing a sense of direction amidst the uncertainty, we pressed on. I, coming up from the rear, ensured that we adhered to our plan of staying together.

The wind, initially a gentle breeze, soon proved to be both friend and foe as it intensified, pulling us along while testing our resolve. Despite the challenges posed by the fluctuating wind conditions, we once again continued to pressed on, fueled by our determination to conquer the elements.

Around 10:20 a.m., amidst the breathtaking landscape of snow-covered terrain and towering glaciers, disaster struck. As I grappled with the turbulent winds, struggling to maintain control of my kite, a sense of urgency engulfed me. Suddenly, a forceful gust sent me tumbling to the ground – disoriented and injured, my body battered by the elements.

My GPS track showed a straight line for 200m. I must have found myself not far from the 3rd kiter, Baptiste. It also indicated immobility, so I must have been unconscious for about one or three minutes.

I got up staggering, no longer having my skis and my wing dropped, blood stains everywhere. No memory of the shock. I then realized I had lost several teeth and began looking for them in the snow, but it was all in vain.

Having been carried away for 200m, I arrived alongside Baptiste. When he stopped, he was folding his 8m2 to take out his 4 when he saw me shouting to him for help. When he aw me his facial expression quickly turned to fear (I then realized the gravity of the situation a little more). He helped me collect my wing and as it began to get stormy and freezing, we started looking for shelter.

We found a 1m high rock with a hole behind it and he began digging a wall with the snow shovels, while continuously calling for help – no success. We would continue calling for help for about an hour before realizing that I had my rescueMe PLB1 beacon on me which I then activated around 11am. This sent a GPS signal of my location to emergency services

Our hope slowly strengthened over time as others in our group started finding us, offering assistance and providing much-needed support. Together, we sought refuge behind a rocky outcrop, sheltering ourselves from the biting cold and assessing the extent of the injuries sustained.

Corrado, embarked on a daring mission to seek aid, determined to ensure our safe return.

At 12:20 p.m., the distant hum of a helicopter signaled a turning point in our ordeal. As the yellow aircraft descended, a sense of relief washed over me, knowing that help had finally arrived. Strapped in and surrounded by uncertainty, I clung tightly as we were airlifted towards Geilo, where medical assistance and safety awaited.

Thanks to my beacon activation, my mother was notified by Search & Rescue about the incident for verification. Though she was updated routinely about the status of my situation, there were moments where she had to endure long periods of time without any news. Around 12:57pm while on the helicopter, I was finally able to reach out to her and fill her in on what had happened.

By 2:00 p.m. we reached the hospital, where skilled medical professionals tended to my injuries with care and compassion. They did a scan of my body and unveiled I had a fractured nose and upper jaw, a cracked palate, 4 upper teeth pulled out (incisors), and one broken, which they would also remove. Knee sprain, but the cruciate ligaments will be miraculously spared, as told at the MRI. Large hematoma all along the left forearm, well scratched.

Despite the severity of the situation, there was solace in knowing that help had arrived in time, a testament to the power of teamwork during times of crises.

As the day unfolded, with each passing hour, I was reminded of the fragility of life. Despite the challenges and uncertainties that had befallen us, I emerged from the ordeal with a newfound appreciation for the bonds of friendship, the strength of the human spirit, and the importance safety preparedness.

Thank you Ocean Signal.

Words of wisdom

Be cautious with who you go in the mountains with…

Thank you note to the Ocean Signal team

Thanks for the beacon, without it it would have been a lot worse