Olivier Cousin, head of mountain rescue in Briançon has warned backcountry enthusiasts that conditions this week-end are “exceptionally dangerous” after a difficult day for the rescue service who attended to avalanche incidents at Ceillac, La Grave, Montgenèvre and Risoul.
The most serious was the death of a young woman from Nice skiing at la Grave. She was with a group of four skiers in the Orcières couloir late in the afternoon when the incident occurred. Found under 150cm of snow at the base of the couloir at 1570 meters altitude, the victim died due to injuries received in the slide. The avalanche risk was 4/5 for the area. Another skier was taken to hospital in Grenoble after being hit by an avalanche on the green Bellecombe piste at les Deux Alpes, the slope was open at the time.
The Hautes-Alpes prefecture warned that "the area was still at risk 4 (HIGH) over all ranges in the department. Following heavy snowfall over the last three days the snow-pack is not yet stabilized leading to a high risk of skier triggered avalanches. The snowfall, coupled with a thaw will increase the risk over the coming days. It is imperative that skiers in resort respect warnings and don’t ski closed runs and do not ski off piste. The prefect also advised other mountain users to avoid backcountry travel and if they do go out to be equipped with avalanche beacons etc., to check the snow conditions, the avalanche bulletin. Adapt to the group level and take appropriate gear for the weather. Inform someone of the route and ETA"