With the avalanche risk between 4 and 3 today in the Savoyard ski resort of Val d'Isere the snow conditions continue to be very unstable. Two season workers were caught by a small slab on the Cairn off piste route around 10h30 and an hour later a group of 4 Spanish skiers apparently remote triggered a slide on the closed Santons piste. Both incidents were in the Bellevard sector of the resort.
The first incident was a slab 80 meters wide with a crown 80cm deep. A group of 3 skiers had left the top of the Bellevard to traverse to the Cairn (2700m). A route that local guide Didier Givois describes as being avalanche prone. The victims were equipped with avalanche beacons. Despite a quick rescue one of the skiers was recovered unconscious and the second skier buried for a good five minutes under 150cm of snow was found in a state of cardioid-vascular arrest by pisteurs. Following reanimation at the scene he was helicoptered to the main Grenoble hospital in serious condition. The third skier escaped the slide. The avalanche risk was 4 (HIGH) and the bottom of the slope was a terrain trap.
The Santons group were not so lucky. The skiers did not have avalanche beacons and rescue had to await the piste patrol and their avalanche dogs who arrived at the scene 15 minutes after the slide. Too late for one of the victims despite a long resuscitation attempt after being found under 150cm of snow. The incident was probably made worse as the piste, running through a gulley where the slide occurred, is a natural terrain trap. The slide was 30 meters wide with a crown of 100cm. The risk was between 3 and 4 at the time and the slope showed evidence of cross-loaded snow.
A thirty year old Czeck skier has died after a huge avalanche at Saint-Colomban-des-Villards. The man, a season worker was skiing with a colleague when the triggered the slide around 14h00. He was wearing an airbag and was equipped with an avalanche beacon.