Despite the low to moderate avalanche risk in the sector two ski tourers were caught by an avalanche in the Prioux valley near Pralognan la Vanoise this morning just before midday. One of the skiers was buried and killed by the slide.
The skiers were descending from the Fond d'Aussois refuge into the Prioux valley at an intersection of several valleys known as le Ritort at around 2000m (it seems on North-West slopes). One of the men was able to free himself and rescue his friend and begin resuscitation. However the CRS arriving by helicopter from Courchevel were unable to save the 35 man, a resident of Annecy. The area has not seen as much snow as the Hautes-Alpes or Haute-Savoie but a strong foehn wind has formed some slabs.
Further south in Serre Chevalier the pisteurs doing avalanche clearance work in the ski resort had were able to trigger slabs on 90% of the controls they made with explosives/gazex and warn that the snowpack remains unstable. A thought echoed by the high mountain police in Briançon who feel that the situation will continue to be dangerous over the Christmas week.
On Monday 23 two ski tourers were caught by a slide at Cervières as they approached the col de Peygu. The accident occurred just before midday. One of the skiers was able to free himself from the debris, the other, a 55 year old local man, suffered a thigh injury and had to be taken to hospital at Briançon by the PGHM helicopter. The thin snowpack is proving a problem. On the same day a ski tourer in the Belledonne suffered a serious knee injury in a fall and was taken to hospital in St Jean de Maurienne by the PGHM helicopter and another skier suffered a damaged cartilage in the nose after hitting and falling on hidden rocks.