Huge Swiss avalanche kills ski tourers

2nd April 2011, by Chris Gill

Ski touring is popular around the Val d'Anniviers

Ski touring is popular around the Val d'Anniviers

The second major avalanche to hit Switzerland in a week has claimed the lives of three ski tourers in the Val d’Anniviers.

The avalanche struck on Friday above Ayer, near Grimentz, in the Val d’Anniviers – a valley running south of Sion, Valais. The huge slide, some 500m by 500m reportedly, caught a group of nine German ski tourers – although two were able to escape straight away to alert the emergency services. Three died. The party was hiking well away from any prepared slopes and close to the Italian border, crossing high altitude terrain (over 2000m).

The incident is the second major avalanche in Switzerland in a week, the other being close to the Great St Bernard Pass – an area fairly close to the latest accident. On that occasion, five French hikers died as a result.

There has been new snow at altitude in the region recently, but it has also been very warm. Those high temperatures and thawing spring snow have raised the avalanche risk in many areas, and outside the main ski resorts hikers and tourers need to take extra care.

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