Two ski tourers were surprised by an avalanche earlier today as they were climbing towards the Tête de Vautisse (3156 meters) in the Ecrins mountain range. One of the victims, a liftie from nearby Puy St Vincent was killed by the slide, his friend, buried up to his waist, was able to raise the alert with the Mountain Rescue services based in nearby Briançon
Arriving rapidly on the scene they took the man to hospital in a state of shock but were unable to do anything for his friend.
The avalanche risk was 3 (Considerable) above 2100 meters. An east to north wind had formed new snow accumulations covering existing slabs. Large skier triggered slabs were possible on a wide sector from the south, through the west to north aspects.
There have been 19 fatal incidents so far in the French mountains this winter with 6 skiers still reported missing in 5 other incidents at Tignes (British skier 10/1/18), Samoens, Beaufort, Bareges and at the Pic Mortiers in the Pyrénées-Orientales (6/1/18). 13 of the fatal incidents have involved ski tourers 6 off piste skiers. 1 probably on-piste and one residential.
Switzerland has also seen a high number of ski touring fatalities with 14 deaths compared to 6 off piste skiers. This may have been a reflection of the poor weather conditions keeping skiers on piste. The ski touring deaths have been geographically divers and frequently in low to mid mountain locations, a refuge during poor weather but a reflection of an unstable snow season.