Thought he would die

A North Vancouver senior thought he would die when he was caught in an avalanche on Cypress Mountain.

Now recovering from the February brush with death, Zdenik Manhal says he thought he'd be crushed under the weight of the snow.

Manhal, 67, and a friend were backcountry skiing when they triggered the avalanche. "The snow shattered completely," he told CTV, and he was bowled over a cliff and buried under metres of snow.

He suffered a shattered leg, broken pelvis, and three broken ribs.

It was like "everything was in concrete," he said.

His friend, Jan, used a beacon and probe to find and free him.

"They were very long minutes, and then suddenly… the light is coming," said Manhal.

Another group of five backcountry skiers helped Jan dig him out and used camp stoves to warm him up.

One of the rescuers skied to an area with cell service and called 911. Manhal was then was airlifted out by helicopter.

Manhal says he was "very lucky," but adds: "I'm hoping to be skiing again next season."

– with files from CTV Vancouver

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