A 49 year old local man has been killed by an avalanche in the Vosges mountains in France yesterday. The skier had failed to turn up for work and the police were alerted at 17h00 by relatives who were worried that he was not picking up his phone. The man had planned to ski tour alone in the Ballon d'Alsace sector.
A large rescue operation involving the Mountain Gendarmerie, firecrew and army were involved in the search. A slide was spotted in the steep couloir de Birkel in the roches de Morteville sector. There searchers found a ski and were able to localize the missing skier using the signal from his avalanche transceiver. However the man had been killed by injuries as the wet snow slide had pushed him against a tree.
The victim was described as experienced and was equipped with an avalanche beacon and a helmet.
Although avalanches are rare in the Vosges there was an incident in the same couloir two years ago when a skier suffered a broken thigh, again after colliding with a tree. Locals have warned that the snowpack in the area has been unstable since earlier in the season with a number of minor incidents.