Snowboarder Julie Abrahamsen, who survived three nights alone on a mountain, plans to go out-of-bounds again — but not by herself.
"It's stupid to do what I do," said Abrahamsen. "I'm just too enthusiastic when the powder is there on the mountain, I guess. Forgive me for that."
The 21-year-old from Norway says she "learned a really good lesson," and wouldn't enter the backcountry without proper equipment and at least two other people who know the terrain.
Vincent Massey, who rescued Abrahamsen, said he's glad she'll be better prepared.
"In all my years of rescuing, I haven't had to rescue the same person twice, and I hope I don't ever have to do that," said Massey of Whistler Search and Rescue.
'Stoked' for powder, followed hikers
Abrahamsen said her adventure began Wednesday when she was snowboarding alone on Blackcomb Mountain and saw hikers go out-of-bounds.
It was the last day she'd be snowboarding in deep powder, so she was "stoked" to follow them, she said.
At some point, among trees, she lost the hikers' tracks and wasn't sure where to go. Her phone battery had died, too.
"Then it got dark, and I realized I had to spend one night, so I found a big rock to sleep underneath," said Abrahamsen.
She had some leftover pasta in her backpack, and pulled her arms inside her sweater and Gore-Tex jacket to stay warm. At that point, she still had a flashlight, and the belief she was close to the highway.
"I thought, this was my night out, now I'm going home," said Abrahamsen of that first night in the cold.
'I just did what my instinct told me'
All day Thursday and Friday she kept walking, still seeing no one, with no sign of a road or where help might be.
Her pasta leftovers were gone, the flashlight died, and she was becoming dehydrated.
The worst, said Abrahamsen, came Friday, as she couldn't take walking in the deep snow and — unwisely — started walking in a freezing river to move faster.
"I don't know what entered my mind. I just did what my instinct told me," said Abrahamsen.
That's when things got chaotic, she said, as boot-deep water turned to a rushing river, up to her neck. She had her phone clutched in her mouth as she travelled downstream, with her backpack and snowboard.
"That night was awful, I was soaking wet and freezing," she said of her third and final night in the wilderness.
'So happy to be alive'
By Saturday morning she was still walking, slowly, until she heard the helicopter sent to rescue her.
She remembers running to meet the helicopter, and not much else about the rescue, except how much she wanted to get inside.
"They did an awesome job," she said of the team from Whistler Search and Rescue and the RCMP who found her.
"I'm so happy to be alive and back to normal."