Even the participants now acknowledge they made a terrible error in judgment.
Last Sunday, a group of friends took turns riding their snowmobiles up a steep mountain slope near Kamas, Utah, to see how high they could climb. Tyson Black was just beginning his descent when a wall of snow above him gave way, sweeping him down the mountain.
"[Tyson] was caught up in it. It just sucked him right in," said Michael Mimbach, a 1996 Hastings High School graduate, in a Skype interview with KARE 11.
Mimbach and his friends found Black's snowmobile ski sticking out of the snow but no sign of Black.
Panic set in as the friends realized Black wasn't wearing an avalanche beacon. Black's girlfriend Brandy Newbold, the mother of Black's baby son, was nearby as the men realized the gravity of the situation.
"Brandy was crying and she was very upset, begging us to find Tyson for her," said Mimbach.
Resorting to shovels and avalanche sticks, the friends started digging. Six feet down, Mimbach's shovel hit the top of Black's helmet. "We uncovered his face, pulled the snow away from his mouth and his lips were blue and he was not breathing.
"The next thing I knew he lets out this weird breath and the guy starts breathing, just out of nowhere," Mimbach recalled. "Absolutely amazing."
Nearly 20 more minutes of digging were needed to free Black.
Mimbach doubts the friends could have pulled it off without the rescue training they'd received from the Utah Avalanche Center. He said his fellow rescuers - Bronson Butler, Brett Roberts, Jeff Walden, Mitch Williams and Newbold - deserve as much credit as he does.
Hugs were exchanged when Black climbed up from the hole, with only minor injuries. But it's a photo of the rescuers - with big smiles and thumbs ups - that Mimbach now treasures.
"We got him, he's alive. He's good, he's going home," Mimbach said. "This [picture] is going on my desk as a reminder of how precious life is, right here."
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