Heavy snow brings avalanche fatalities

6th January 2016, by Abi Butcher

A skier died in Val d'Isère yesterday. Photo: Radio Val d'Isère

A skier died in Val d'Isère yesterday. Photo: Radio Val d'Isère

The snow has continued to fall this week, with many resorts already claiming a metre of the white stuff, with much more to come. The heaviest falls have been mainly in the northern French, and northern and western Swiss Alps, but many parts of Austria and Italy getting a good share, too.

But with the snowfall, so have come the avalanches. Yesterday, two avalanches were triggered by skiers in Val d’Isère alone, one of which was fatal. The resort has huge amounts of lift-served off-piste, and with 60cm of snow falling over the past few days the risk of avalanche was high — 4 out of 5.

Click here for our blog on avalanche levels and how they are set.

According to Radio Val d’Isère, three seasonaires were skiing in the Bellevarde area when they triggered a slide 120 m long, 80 m wide, the crown was 80 cm. All were wearing transceivers, and one skier was caught under 1.5m of snow for five minutes. They were dug out and are being treated in hospital in Grenoble.

Four Spanish men who triggered another slide an hour later were not so lucky. None were wearing avalanche transceivers and a 37-year-old man died at the scene of the rescue that involved 15 members of the ski resort’s mountain rescue team and two avalanche dogs.

Later in the afternoon, at 2pm in a 30-year-old man from the Czech Republic skiing with a seasonniare colleague in La Touissuire died after triggering an avalanche of between 700-800m. Despite the fact the man was wearing an avalanche bag, he was buried by the snow and died and later found by his transceiver.

This news comes on the back of two avalanche incidents in Chamonix on Sunday and is very sobering news. The authorities in the Alps are all advising extreme caution.

Back to news

Recent news

Share |