A skier has been killed by an avalanche in the ski resort of Vars in the Hautes-Alpes on Saturday afternoon. The avalanche occurred at 16h30 at 1800 meters altitude in the Claux sector. A group of three skiers were skiing between two ski runs that were closed at the time due to the risk of avalanche when they triggered a slide. One of the skiers, a Parisian man aged in his 30s was completely buried by the slide. He was not equipped with an avalanche beacon. A large rescue operation including dog handlers, piste patrollers and the mountain rescue services based in Briancon eventually found the victim after an hour under the snow.
Heliported to hospital in Briancon suffering from multiple injuries he was declared dead in the early evening. It is the first fatality in France this season. The avalanche bulletin for the area gave the risk as 4/5 (HIGH) and warned of "maximal risk for skier triggered avalanches, both soft and hard slabs". There had been over half a meter of fresh snow in the sector forming easily triggered slabs some of which could be voluminous.
On Saturday there was also a large skier triggered avalanche in the Clot Gauthier in the ski resort of Serre Chevalier. The crown wall was up to 2 meters deep in places. No-one was injured by this slide. On Sunday skiers triggered an avalanche on the Settaz ridge in Valloire but without injury.
On Sunday, on the Italian side of the Alps there were three fatalities. A guide was killed on his "day off" in Valtournenche ski touring. He was alone and when he didn't return his wife contacted the mountain rescue who located the victim using his avalanche beacon. Four ski tourers were caught by an avalanche at 2800 meters altitude on the Passo Della Civera near Alagna. One of the skiers was buried 60cm under the snow and was found using his avalanche beacon but died on his way to hospital. In the Sud-Tyrol a snow shoer in her 60s was buried by a slide. Her companion was unable to dig the snow with his hands and she was eventually recovered by the mountain rescue.