A ski tourer has been killed by a large avalanche this morning at 10h00 in the Grand Crêt bowl (2100 meters) at la Clusaz in the Haute-Savoie. There were about 50 ski tourers in the bowl at the time. A route that is very popular. The victim was rescued by eye witnesses who attempted resuscitation. He was then airlifted to hospital but never recovered.
The victim, aged 45, was a resident of Sallanche. He was wearing an avalanche beacon. 4 avalanche dogs as well as 40 rescue workers were airlifted to the scene to probe the debris to check for other victims. Eye witnesses described the scene at the car-park at Confins as "chaotic" with an impressive number of police, firemen, rescue dogs and helicopters.
The avalanche risk was moderate (2) and skiers said the snow was "rock solid" and it was "hard to imagine it could avalanche". However Chamonix guide Christophe Cordonnier did the same route yesterday and noted that a skier, part of a group of foreign skiers and snowboarders, had triggered a slab under the col near the Trou de la Mouche (2467m) at the top of the bowl.
The slide measured 200 meters wide and descended from just under the ridge taking the whole face. It then covered the climbing route with debris covering the top of the bowl. It appears that snow transported by wind overloaded the face causing a spontaneous avalanche. The face is south facing.
Last Wednesday a group of 8 Canadian skiers had a lucky escape in the Avals valley. Two of the group were hit by the slide, one lost his skiers, the other suffered from fractured ribs and had to be taken to hospital. All were equipped with beacons etc.