Posted on: 19 March 2013 by davidof

Cluster of avalanches in the French Alps

There have been a cluster of avalanche incidents in the French Alps today following high winds and 50-100cm of fresh snow. The most serious were at Saint-Jean Montclar in the Alpes-de-Haute-Provence where a ski tourer was killed and at Bernex where an off-piste skier was found dead in a slide. There are reports of a serious incident at Vallorcine.

Three off piste skiers triggered an avalanche a little before 16h00 in the resort of Saint-Jean Montclar on a closed black run. The avalanche risk was 4 in the area following fresh snowfall. Two of the skiers were rescued uninjured. The third victim, a thirty year old lift worker from the resort of Chabanon was found after an hour under the snow. Efforts to revive him by a doctor flown to the scene were unsuccessful. None of the group were wearing avalanche transceivers.

In the 7 Laux ski area a man in his 20s was in a serious condition after being buried by an avalanche in the Pipay sector of the ski area while skiiing off piste. A ski instructor and his clients were the first on the scene. The victim was not totally buried by the slide but was unconscious. He was taken by helicopter to Grenoble University Hospital. The accident happened at 11h55. The slab avalanche measured 150 x 250 meters. The risk was 2 rising to 3 during the day below 2300 meters.

At Bernex the body of a 25 year old local skier was found under avalanche debris by a guide around 17h00. He had been ski touring in the Chalet Vert/la combe de Pelluaz sector. The risk was 2 below 2200 meters, 3 above.

A Swedish skier was seriously injured on the Swiss side of Vallorcine.

At Méribel two off piste skiers triggered a slide on a steep slope after a jump. The incident occurred next to the Côte Brune chair. One of the skiers suffered a serious leg injuries and was taken to hospital by helicopter. The uninjured skier was also airlifted to resort due to the danger of secondary avalanches in the zone.

A group of six skiers triggered a slide at Valmorel around 15h30. The last skier in the group was completely buried for 15 minutes. He was rescued by his friends but unconscious and suffering from hypothermia. Once again another helicopter ride to hospital in Moutiers.

At 16h00 a British tourist trigged an avalanche and ended in a stream with just his head clear. He was in a guided group skiing the Lac du Lou. A piste patroller assisted by a guide and ski instructor were able to rescue the skier who was suffering from hypothermia. He was treated in the resort medical center.

In all three incidents the risk was 2 in the morning, rising to 3 later in the day.

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