The victims were not deeply buried by the slide and were rescued very quickly thanks to their avalanche beacons. One of them suffered a sprained hip but the other is in a much more serious condition with a ruptured spleen.
The avalanche risk for the region was 1 on a scale of 5 at the time. However the Savoie avalanche forecaster, Thierry Arnou, has previously put skiers on guard about using the area risk when planning trips. On Friday he warned of localized slab avalanche danger “above 2300 meters altitude” and said that avoiding these slabs “is based largely on a appreciation of topography: steep couloirs oriented to the north or north east crossed by rock bands”. He also warned about the dangers of cornice “which seem to be very unstable at the moment and can break at any moment”.
Two members of a group of five ski tourers have been killed after a cornice collapse in the Mont-Blanc range. The group were making a tour to the Pointe Alphons Favre (2788m) and decided to venture on foot onto the Aiguille du Belvédère ridge (2956m) above Vallorcine to take some photos. Three of the group walked onto the cornice at around 2750 meters altitude which collapsed under their weight. By luck one of the group was able to save himself and escaped with light injuries but two friends fell 300 meters and were killed by injuries received.
I was present on the North Face of Bellcote, together with a guide and two other friends when the avalanche occurred on Saturday, April 8th. Avalanche Risk was 1 on the French scale and conditions were absolutely perfect, perhaps the best of the season for this route and it was also my first descent of the North face. We were considerably below the level of the avalanche and pretty euphoric at having achieved the descent through almost an hour and a half of powder.
The sound of the avalanche was sobering, as was the sight of skiers assembled at it’s base. Rescue services were deployed quickly and very effectively, as evidenced by the outcome.
Our converations & food appreciation at the Base Cafe were somewhat muted, until an authoratative report was received that there were no fatalities and two minor injuries. We hope that those injured have made full recoveries.
Posted by on Sunday, 16 April, 2006 at 04:36 PM
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