Despite warnings from the Isere and Haute-Savoie prefectures for winter sports enthusiasts to exercise caution in the mountains and to stay on secured trails and slopes there have been a series of avalanches principally involving off piste skiers. The message has largely passed to ski tourers. Posts to social networking sites featured traditional safer options.
Shortly before 10h00 a group of skiers triggered an avalanche in the Boismint sector on north-east facing slopes above the Combe de Caron. Three skiers were taken by the slide. One was buried to their waist, another under 150cm of snow. This skier had to be resuscitated at the scene by rescue workers and was then taken to hospital. The risk was 3/5 at the time and the bulletin had mentioned the danger of slabs on north sector slopes at altitude.
The guardian of the Grand Plan refuge and his son were caught in an avalanche in the Avals valley today at around 13h00. The guardian was killed by the slide. They were climbing to the refuge on ski touring gear.1
There was the traditional avalanche in the Balme sector of la Clusaz in the Haute-Savoie. A group of five skiers and snowboarders were near to the summit of the Torchère at 2200m altitude. Two of the group were taken by the slide. One partially buried. The other skier was found thanks to their transceiver in a critical condition. The slide crossed an open black piste and 50 rescue workers checked the debris for further potential victims using a probe search. The risk was 4/5. There was also a fatal avalanche in Switzerland at St Moritz under the Piz Nair cable car. Another off piste skier was injured on the Jakobshorn in nearby Davos. An Irish resident of Zurich died yesterday ski touring in the Realp/Gotthard area. The search for the missing skier only started on Friday due to the weather conditions.
There was a further avalanche in the Cucumelle sector at Serre Chevalier following yesterday's slide. The incident occurred around 14h00. A young man was buried. Rescued by the PGHM in Briançon he was immediately heli-ported to Grenoble where he succumbed to his injuries.
At Celliers a ski touring couple were hit by an avalanche just after midday. A woman was completely buried by the slide but was rescued by her companion using his avalanche transceiver. Suffering from mild hypothermia she received medical attention from a doctor with the PGHM based at Courchevel but was not hospitalized.
The young man caught in the slide yesterday at la Plagne died later in hospital in Grenoble. He was a resident of Brittany. There have been six avalanche fatalities in the Northern French alps since last weekend in five separate incidents.
1.On the 22nd of December 2009 the guardian of the Grand Plan refuge was hit by a slide in the combe des Avals killing his dog.
Update 28 December 2013
Both the la Clusaz victims have died in hospital.
A teenager has died in a fall off piste skiing in Saint-François Longchamp
Two Italian off piste skiers have been killed by an avalanche at Val d'Aoste in the Pila area. The risk was 4/5. The avalanche occurred at 2800 meters.