Two brothers got a major pre-Thanksgiving scare when they both believed the other to have died in an avalanche while skiing the Colorado backcountry Wednesday, 9News reports. Alex Holmes, 27, was watching as his brother Brian, 26, triggered an avalanche and was hit by the wave of snow. According to the Denver Post, Alex tried to ski down to rescue his brother but decided it was too dangerous after he triggered a second slide. A San Miguel County sheriff's deputy calls the area in the San Juan Mountains "some of the most tenuous snow conditions on the continent." Believing his brother dead, Alex went to get help.
Unbeknownst to Alex, Brian was alive but mostly buried in snow 1,000 feet down the hill, the Post reports. According to 9News, it took Brian—with only his face and one arm unburied—15 minutes or so to dig himself free. "Given the circumstances and nature of the slide, this skier is extremely fortunate," the sheriff's deputy says. CBS Denver reports Brian searched for Alex while attempting to call 911 for an hour with no luck. Brian—who similarly believed his brother was dead—made it to a nearby town before the rescue team alerted by Alex could find him.