Freya Fennwood wants you to learn from her near-death experience


Photographer Freya Fennwood almost died a few weeks ago. A master snowboarder, who was also named one of skiing’s top shooters by Backcountry magazine, Freya knows her way around a slope. But boarding down Mount Baker on an exceptionally deep powder day, she suddenly found herself buried upside down in a tree well—a hidden cavity of deep fresh snow at the base of a tree. Choking on snow, she tried to right herself, but with every movement, she sank in deeper. She thought, “Is this how I really end?”

But then she remembered the safety tips she had seen online: stay calm, slow your breathing, move as little as possible, and dig an air pocket in front of your face. Finding just enough air to begin breathing again, she managed to gently wiggle her right arm in the direction she thought was up, and it broke free. More air flowed down her arm.

Her board and feet were just barely sticking out of the snow, and she hoped someone on the chairlift above might have seen her fall. Sure enough, she soon heard the scratching sounds of digging. Riders on the lift had yelled their hearts out to alert some people on the slope, and together, they saved her life. She hopes that sharing this story—and safety tips like these—might save other lives someday.

Meanwhile, Freya’s passion for the mountains where she works and plays remains as strong as ever. She actually shot some of these spectacular images on her next ski tour just a few days later. “I’m just grateful for this life where I get to experience these views,” she says, “and I’m looking at every beautiful spring day with fresh and thankful eyes.”