A member of the piste patrol for the ski resort of Bernex in the Haute-Savoie has been killed by an avalanche in the Pelluaz sector. The slide took him some 200 meters over cliffs in a steep couloir while he was on duty securing the ski domain as part of the PIDA.
His colleagues became concerned when he failed to arrive at the bottom of the ski pistes. The body of Jacky Dutrel, aged 54, was found partially buried by an avalanche at around noon. He had been killed by trauma. Mr Dutrel had 30 years experience and knew the Bernex domain intimately. This brings to 50 the number of people killed by avalanches in France this season, the previous worse season on record was 1981 with 47 avalanche deaths.
The bulletin had put the risk at between 3 and 4 and noted an important covering of fresh snow which had not had a chance to stabilize in the cold. The risk continues at High (4/5) for Sunday above 1600 to 1800 meters with a risk of natural avalanches on sunny slopes or where there are significant accumulations.
On Thursday a policeman was killed during a rescue exercise in the ski resort of Auron in the Alpes Maritimes. Piste patrollers have also been killed at les Deux Alpes and Saint-Columban les Villards this season while carrying out their duties.
Lucky escape in les Deux Alpes
In les Deux Alpes a Dutch man had a narrow escape after a cold night out on cliffs. He had left his wife to do a bit of off-piste skiing during poor weather conditions and was unable to find the marked ski runs. Instead he ended up above a cliff complex in the Perrons sector and descended 500 meters in a series of falls, undoubtedly cushioned by the considerable quantity of fresh snow. He was able to attract the attention of a motorist on the St Christophe road by using the flash of his camera. The Civil Security rescue helicopter was only able to winch the man to safety at 07h00. He was suffering from scrapes and bruises and mild hypothermia but was released from hospital after treatment.