Five Spanish skiers were hit by an avalanche around midday near the Aragnouet-Bielsa tunnel on the south face of the Pic de Marioules. Two of the group were buried under 4 meters of snow. It took a large rescue operation 2 hours to locate the first victim who was already dead. At 15h00 the second victim was found in a critical condition but died on the way to hospital in Toulouse. The avalanche risk was 3/5 in the sector.
It appears one of the victims didn't have an avalanche beacon (faulty?) and was found by an avalanche rescue dog. The previous days had seen strong winds from the south-west, fresh snow and rain and a thaw. The group were accompanied by a High Mountain guide who escaped the slide without injury.
In the Haute-Savoie six skiers were hit by an avalanche at around 15h00 near the refuge de Gramusset above le Grand Bornand. The vicitims were five ski tourers and a snowshoer were partially buried by the slide. Suffering mostly from shock the group were evacuated by the High Mountain Police based in Annecy. Three ski tourers were also injured after falling on ice in a couloir on the Sur-Cou above Orange. Poor weather prevented the rescue helicopter from flying and they were recovered by a ground operation.
With the avalanche risk at 4 (High) above 2200 meters in the morning the Haute-Savoie prefecture has joined the Haute-Alpes in calling for prudence tomorrow, asking skiers to remain on piste or to ask advice from professionals and warned backcountry enthusiasts that “familiarity with the sector is no protection”.