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British skier found under avalanche at Chamonix
Posted: 30 December 2009 01:01 AM   [ # 16 ]  
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Total Posts:  35
Joined  2006-01-30
Alan Scowcroft - 29 December 2009 05:28 PM

The vallorcine side of the mountain was closed again this afternoon with reports of an avalanche in the Belle Place area. The lifty I spoke to didn’t know if anyone was involved. I also witnessed the last casualty being evacuated by helicopter and was informed by the piste patrol that it was just an exercise. It seems the attitude of “hush hush” continues.

I saw 8 rescue vehicles heading up there as I left Le Tour Tuesday and the Col des Montets was shut. There was an avalanche Tuesday which witnesses said was caused by 2 snow boarders that cut over the red piste Belle Place. 65 people probed the snow but found no one in the avalanche, according to Radio Mont Blanc. That is within the ski domaine, and in that case they are lucky no one was hurt, and definitely should have bombed the area above that threatened that piste.

I agree that Le Tour is a terrible place in a white out as it is featureless, hence again the rules of mountain safety in bad weather - do not ski alone. Do not hike alone, do not bike alone. As far as the piste markers, I guess I didn’t consider that - all of Chamonix is marked that way as are a number of other nearby French and Swiss resorts in the area where I have skied, but perhaps it is something they could improve upon, given that a lot of the area just off to the piste will contain steep gullies. That said I do think that someone alone could still make a mistake on a piste in a white out even with different colored markers if the fog is thick enough. I still think the main mistake here was to split up. After that, we really don’t have any way to know what happened to lead this person to the area that avalanched. But if he was still with friends, they could have seen it, called for help and tried to find him and dig him out.

[ Edited: 30 December 2009 10:53 AM by firechick]
Posted: 30 December 2009 10:42 PM   [ # 17 ]  
Total Posts:  2234
Joined  2003-10-24

French TV reported two more avalanches one must be the one Firechick is talking about and another at 15h20 today on the Charlanon in the Brevent

Two avalanches, with no victims, cut ski runs on Tuesday and Wednesday in Chamonix. The avalanche risk was high 4/5 in the Haute-Savoie. “The snowpack, loaded by the recent rain and snow has created a particularly unstable snowpack” according to the PGHM (mountain police) in Chamonix. The plentiful snowfall and heavy rain have limited the efficacity of avalanche control work that is carried out each day by the piste services, according to the same source. The first avalanche measured 80 by 40 meters and was “probably triggered by off piste skiers”, it crossed a piste in the Tour ski area. A probe line and avalanche search failed to find any victims. On Wednesday in the middle of the afternoon a second avalanche, 1m50 deep in places, crossed a ski run in the Brevent sector. Meteo France strongly advises against off piste skiiing.

Sounds like they should be advising against piste skiing too !

Last time there was an on piste avalanche at Brevent it caught the head of piste security

Just to remind you here is the report on Chris Kedy-Cady who was killed by an avalanche skiing alone

again he’d separated from his partner to ski alone off piste.

[ Edited: 30 December 2009 10:50 PM by davidof]
Posted: 31 December 2009 01:02 PM   [ # 18 ]  
Total Posts:  15
Joined  2006-01-20

I remember that week well. In the valley it rained extremely hard non-stop for over 3 days. Everything except Planards (beginners run) was shut. Very depressed people come for a week’s skiing sitting around in bars wondering when or if they’d get to ski at all. 2m snow in 48 hours. Drifts of 4-5m at the top of Brevent. The top cable car was open, but you weren’t allowed to take your skis with you. I’ve got some (not very good) photos up at including the remains of an avalanche at the back of Le Tour.
It’s scary now because the very cold temperatures a couple of weeks ago (-21C at Le Tour) made a very pronounced hoar frost layer which was sliding even before Christmas. No surprises it’s worse now with all the new snow on top of that.

Posted: 31 December 2009 01:33 PM   [ # 19 ]  
Total Posts:  2234
Joined  2003-10-24
davidof - 28 December 2009 12:31 PM

Some journalists, like Antoine Chandelier in Chamonix or James Cove of the BBC

Actually I will take that back about James Cove. By chance I’ve found him copying stuff from PisteHors and claiming it was said by someone else. Corrupt.

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