Rescue dog finds buried skier alive

A skier in British Columbia has a new best friend after a golden Lab named Keno dug him out of an avalanche in southern B.C. on Tuesday.

Ryan Radchenko, 21, was skiing on the White Pass Quad at Fernies Alpine resort a day before the resort opened when he was caught by a wave of snow.

He said he tried to ride the wave, but he was buried in about three metres of snow.

"As I was going down I was trying to remain calm and do everything I could to remain calm," Radchenko said. "When everything stopped I actually thought I was going to die."

And he very well could have. He ran out of air in about four minutes.

About 24 minutes later when Keno found him, he was unconscious, but alive.

Avalanche rescue dogs are trained to smell people under the snow.

Robin Siggers, the dog's ski patrol handler, said, "He started digging and pulled a glove out of the snow. I dug down and found a hand."

Siggers says Keno was rewarded with a big steak, cooked rare.

Keno is one of three dogs certified as fully trained by the Canadian Avalanche Rescue Dog Association at the Fernies resort.

And according to the Canadian Avalanche Service, avalanche rescue teams may have a busy season ahead. Conditions, they say, are as dangerous this year as they have ever been.

"There is heavy potential for people to be surprised by the fact the snow pack is particularly weak this year," said Evan Manners. "What may have been realistically skied in the last few seasons may not be the case this year."

Anyone heading into the mountains should be prepared with probes, beacons, and plenty of survival knowledge, said Manners.