There were two further avalanche deaths yesterday in the French Alps and police have warned off-piste skiers and snowboarders as well as ski mountaineers to be extremely careful especially on north faces and above 2000 meters where the cold temperatures have weakened the snowpack. There has been 40-60cm of fresh snow in the pre-Alps and the avalanche risk is considerable across the whole region.
42 year old Bruno Pellegrin, a confectioner from les Abriès in the Hautes-Alpes was killed by an avalanche in the resort at around midday. He was skiing with a friend at 2,400 meters altitude when he triggered a snow slab. The pair were on the crete du Gilly, a route reputed to be “safe”. M Pellegrin was known as an experienced ski tourer. The victim was found by an avalanche dog under 70cm of snow but despite the rapid intervention of the rescue services they were unable to revive him. The slope had already been skied.
On Monday an American tourist on a trip to la Grave and a resident of Aspen, was killed by an avalanche at nearby Montgenevre while skiing off-piste with a guided group. The slope had already been skied by a number of other groups during that same morning. In their avalanche bulletin last week Meteo France reminded backcountry travellers that tracks should not be taken as a sign of security and in some circumstances could be weak points in the snowpack. This point was echoed by rescue workers at les Abries.
At same time in Valloire a group of three off-piste skiers triggered a slab avalanche burying one member of their group, a 52 year old man. He was already dead when the rescue services arrived at the scene. There have been 43 avalanche deaths so far this season in France.
PisteHors reports on current French snow and avalanche conditions.