Claim:   A man freed himself from an avalanche by drinking beer and urinating on the snow to melt it.

Status:   Undetermined.

Example:   [, 2005]

A Slovak man trapped in his car under an avalanche freed himself by drinking 60 bottles of beer and urinating on the snow to melt it.

Rescue teams found Richard Kral drunk and staggering along a mountain path four days after his Audi was buried in Slovakia's Tatra mountains. He told them that after the avalanche, he had opened his car window and tried to dig his way out with his hands.

But he realised the snow was falling faster than he could dig. and would soon fill his car.

He had 60 500ml bottles of beer in his car as he was going on holiday, and after cracking one open to think about the problem he realised he could urinate on the snow to melt it.

"It was hard and now my kidneys and liver hurt," he said later. "But I'm glad the beer I took on holiday turned out to be useful."

Origins:   The story about a Slovak man who was buried inside his car by an avalanche, and supposedly freed himself by drinking beer and urinating on the snow to melt it, was carried by a number of western news services in January 2005. The story has so far proved difficult to verify because its attributions have been vague (e.g., "correspondents in Bratislava"), and it evidently originated in a part of the world (the Slovak Republic) where information sources are more difficult to track down (particularly because the language is unfamiliar to most westerners).

However, a correspondent who works for a Slovak news agency informed us that not only has the avalanche story (or any news story about an avalanche) not appeared in the news media there, but the very same tale (of Czech origin, told about an unnamed man caught in the Austrian Alps) was circulating in that country as an e-mail joke even before the heavy snows described in the article occurred.

Last updated:   2 February 2005

  Sources Sources:
    Agence France Presse.   "Beer Saves Man from Avalanche."   31 January 2005.

    Sydney Morning Herald.   "Piste to the Eyeballs."
    31 January 2005.