Inside an avalanche: Stunning drone footage showcases danger of Vancouver Island mountains

Inside an avalanche: Stunning drone footage showcases danger of Vancouver Island mountains
A still taken from a Vancouver Island YouTuber's footage of a powerful avalanche on a remote mountain near Port Alberni.

Vancouver Island’s rugged landscape has long been admired for its breathtaking beauty, but a local drone videographer recently captured the awe-inspiring power and danger that can be found in the island’s remote mountains.

MactacFPV, an experienced FPV (First-Person View) drone pilot, had a heart-stopping encounter with an avalanche while filming a picturesque peak near Port Alberni.

FPV drones are equipped with cameras that transmit live video footage to the pilot’s goggles, providing a first-person perspective of the drone’s flight path. This immersive experience allows pilots to perform intricate maneuvers while capturing stunning aerial footage.

“When you’re flying, it’s like you’re sitting in the cockpit of the drone,” he said Friday. “So when you’re flying up in these mountain peaks, it feels like you’re physically up there flying around.”

This past Tuesday, the YouTuber embarked on a journey to the remote destination near Port Alberni, about 2.4 kilometres from the peak of the mountain and 1.3 kilometres from the base, to capture the landscape.

As he and a friend began packing up for the day, they suddenly heard the thunderous boom of an avalanche tumbling down the mountainside.

“It was intense…I’ve never seen anything like that up close and personal,” he said. “My heart was pounding the whole time, I couldn’t believe what I was seeing.”

He managed to get his drone up in the air to record the event in mesmerizing detail, as he somehow navigated it mere metres from the rushing snow without damaging it.

“It’s just so hard to describe the feeling of witnessing the raw power of nature like that. It was awe-inspiring and humbling,” he said.

It also could have been dangerous for the drone pilot. In what’s been a deadly year for avalanche fatalities in B.C., 14 people have died in the province since January versus an annual average of 10, though there has never been a recorded avalanche death on the Island, according to Avalanche Canada.

The videographer said he understands the danger of the unpredictable Island backcountry and prepares extensively for his shoots.

“It’s incredible, but it also reminds you of the power and majesty of nature. You’ve got to respect it,” he said.

It’s something echoed by B.C.’s Search And Rescue Association, which tweeted the video Friday saying it highlighted how dangerous it can be when spring starts to warm up packed snow.

The video, which had netted over 37,000 views in a day since it was posted, has since seen its own avalanche of comments and views on social media from people praising the breathtaking footage.

“This is National Geographic level work, man. So well done and amazing timing. I hope this helps to elevate your drone career,” said on commenter, with another adding the footage was something few would ever get in their lifetimes.

“I’ve had people that are climbers that have messaged me, I’ve had fluid dynamics people contact me saying, you know, I’ve been studying this stuff for years and I’ve never actually seen it happen up close like that,” he said about the response to the footage.

Some viewers even speculated that MactacFPV had set off a charge to trigger the avalanche in order to capture the dramatic video.

But the drone pilot said he was simply in the right place at the right time.

“It was just dumb luck,” he said with a laugh.

Jeff LawrenceJeff Lawrence

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