Swiss police say a skier survived for 17 hours buried beneath an avalanche before being pulled from the snow with only mild hypothermia.

Police in the southern canton of Valais say the 21-year-old man appeared to have survived because he was trapped next to a pocket of air.

The unidentified man's family had reported him missing on Saturday afternoon in the Evolene region about 50 miles east of Geneva.

Rescuers found the man beneath 20 inches of snow on Sunday.

Police described the man's survival as "extraordinary."

Dozens of skiers are killed by avalanches in the Swiss Alps each year.