Canadian snowboarder David Carrier Porcheron was filming a video in Russia's Far East last month when he accidentally started an avalanche. He managed to stay upright and stay ahead of the snow, but that wasn't the highlight of the video — not even close. The real star was a local mountain hare, whose inspirational scramble across the top of the avalanche has won the Internet.
Filmed near Snow Valley Lodge on Russia's Kamchatka peninsula, the video was released this week by ski-tour company Helipro and quickly went viral. It has amassed more than 1.6 million views on Vimeo in six days, although it has also raised understandable doubts that such amazing footage could be real.
Helipro stands by the video's authenticity, however, and it seems less implausible if you consider the animal involved. This is not a rabbit — it's most likely a mountain hare, Lepus timidus, a Eurasian relative of North America's snowshoe hare. While a human probably couldn't do this, our bodies evolved for distance running on solid ground, not mad dashes across moving snow.
Mountain hares, on the other hand, are well-adapted to life in places like Kamchatka, with lightweight bodies and large feet to help them travel on loose snow without sinking. Running through an avalanche may not be part of their daily routine, but if any animal can do it, they're a good candidate.
The video, which was filmed via helicopter, cuts out just before we can see whether the hare makes it all the way through the avalanche. It did seem to get past the most treacherous parts, but one commenter on Vimeo thankfully asked what everyone is thinking: "Did he survive?"
"He survived," Helipro responded, "and has a beautiful life in Kamchatka!"
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