Posted on: 2015-03-29 18:57:22 by davidof

Series of avalanches in European Alps over weekend

Five people have been killed in a series of avalanche incidents across the European Alps over the weekend following heavy snowfall over Italy and parts of Switzerland and France. Around half a meter of fresh snow fell at Bonneval-Sur-Arc, scene of today's incident, on Wednesday and this was followed by strong winds on Friday and Saturday morning. Meteo France are forecasting up to 80cm of fresh snow at altitude in the Northern Alps accompanied by 100km/h NW winds and have raised the avalanche risk to HIGH (4/5) for Monday across most of the range.

A man was killed by an avalanche this morning (Sunday, 29th March 2015) near the Carro refuge above Bonneval-sur-Arc. The incident occured at 3100 meters altitude. Five members of a group of nine French ski tourers including a high mountain guide were caught by the slide. The victim was buried under a meter of snow and he was no longer breathing when he was found. Despite poor weather the CRS rescue helicpter was able to land at the scene. The avalanche risk was 2 in the morning, rising to 3 on Sunday afternoon with renewed rain and snowfall.

On Saturday (28th March 2015) a British national, resident in Switzerland was killed by an avalanche on Mont Vélan in the commune of Bourg-St-Pierre in the Swiss Valais. The victim was skiing the SW facing couloir d'Annibal with his brother at 3600 meters. He was declared dead at the scene. Both men were wearing avalanche transceivers. The avalanche risk was 2/5. The couloir is steep, 40-45° over 500 vertical meters but not overly exposed. There have been 28 avalanche victims so far this season in Switzerland, the highest number since 2010/11.

On Friday (27th March 2005) two skiers were killed on the Mont Terre Noire above Cesana in Italy closed to Montgenèvre in the Susa valley. The were part of a group of 8 heli-skiers all equipped with airbags and avalanche transceivers on a trip organized by The Pure Ski Company. The victims were found by rescue workers late morning. Their airbags had worked correctly. The slide was 200 meters wide and ran for over 1km. The victims were 53 year old Italian high mountain guide Luca Prochet, resident of Briançon in the Hautes-Alpes and former head of the Piemont Mountain Rescue school and Matthieu Ricchi of Courchevel. A third person, Mathieu-René Gourmeleu and a French ski instructor, suffered light injuries. The avalanche risk was 3 out of 5 in the sector. The route is popular with guided groups.

On the same day a group of seven ski tourers were caught by a slide around 13h00 on the Pigne d'Arolla in the Swiss Valais. Four people were completely buried by the slide which occured at 3115 meters altitude on a 35 degree SE facing slope. The avalanche risk was 2/5. One person, a German national, died later in hospital, the three other victims received mild injuries. The group comprised 5 non-Swiss clients and two high mountain guides. They'd left the Chanrion refuge in the morning with the aim of skiing over to the Vignettes refuge.

Further Information