Mountain Goats vs. Avalanche—an Epic Battle With a Twist Ending

Who knew chamois goats were such expert escape artists?

(Photo: YouTube)
Sal holds a Political Science degree from the George Washington University. He's written about all things environment since 2007.

Never before have I rooted so fervently for a herd of mountain goats.

The cheering occurred while watching dramatic footage filmed in April (and posted to YouTube this week) of nine chamois goats (technically they're goat-antelopes) that found themselves staring at the business end of an avalanche.

Spooked by the impending doom sweeping down the slopes of a peak in the Le Roc de la Pêche ski resort in the French Alps, the group frantically scatters, with five of them darting down the mountain to freedom. Inexplicably, the other four run uphill into the oncoming snow.

Ten seconds—which feel like 10 days—pass. Will the four make it out alive?

Just when you’ve begun to abandon all hope, they break through the cascading white powder, barely reconnecting with the rest of the herd. A group of French-speaking skiers, one of whom is the cameraman, gasps offscreen before cheering and clapping.

Classified by the IUCN Red List as a species of “least concern,” more than 400,000 chamois live at altitudes of up to 9,000 feet throughout the mountains of south-central Europe.

Chamois are known for their ability to run at speeds of up to 30 mph, and they can jump more than seven feet in the air. That is exactly the sort of athletic combo package you want to possess in case of an emergency—like, you know, when a tidal wave of snow is nipping at the backs of your hooves.

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