A ski tourer has been killed by an avalanche in the Hautes-Alpes near to the col du Lauteret. The avalanche was triggered by a guided group of four ski tourers just after midday as they were climbing under the summit ridge of the Chaillol mountain. It seems they were preparing to climb a North-East facing couloir just to the south-east of the summit at pt 2739 meters.
One of the group suffered mild injuries but the slide continued down slope and buried a lone ski tourer under under a considerable quantity of snow. The victim was only recovered around 13h45, a delay that proved fatal. The victim, aged 59, was local to the area. The rescue operation involved teams from the PGHM based in le Versoud (Grenoble) and from Briançon as well as members of the local fire service. A manslaughter inquiry has been opened by the prosecutor.
Meteo France had estimated the avalanche risk as Considerable above 2300 meters warning of a persistent weak layer and windblown snow on shaded slopes that could be easily triggered by skiers mobilizing a considerable amount of snow. There have been strong winds from the south-west since the weekend. The avalanche triggered over 500 meters on a convex slope close to the ridge line (a point where the wind decelerates and deposits snow) and at the base of cliffs (accumulations). A fairly classic configuration. There have been a number of similar avalanches over the previous days, notably with remote triggering by skiers. On Saturday ski tourers triggered a slide in the combe du Revers near Val Thorens injuring two of the group who had to be evacuated to hospital by the mountain rescue services.