An independent snowboard instructor and one of his clients have been caught by an avalanche in the “couloir des pisteurs” on the north face of the Charvet (2850 meters) in the Grand Pre sector. The incident occured at 12h30 and the two men were carried 400 meters by the slide. The ski instructor broke his leg in the fall. His 50 year old client was not so lucky. Completely buried he was found thanks to his avalanche beacon but in a state of cardio-vascular arrest. Emergency first aid was given on the scene before he was evacuated by helicopter to the CHU in Grenoble. He is in a coma.
The entry to the Pisteurs is a large suspended face on the right bank, this is liable to windslab. After a narrow section the couloir opens up into a small bowl at mid slope, at the bottom of the bowl the route splits in two. It appears that the avalanche occurred at the entrance to this bowl and then carried the men over rocks and cliffs below.
There is no full avalanche bulletin at the moment. However a number of slabs have formed on north faces under the influence of strong South to Southwest winds. According to the Meteo France avalanche expert “These slabs and recent accumulations remain very volatile because of the widespread presence of sub-layers of old fragile facetted snow. The passage of a skier can be enough to trigger a surface slab, a number of skiers can trigger a large slide”.
Normally couloirs are “relatively” safe in these circumstances however the particularly configuration of the Pisteurs, with its large entry slope and bowl at mid point show that particular care must be taken to the morphology of each route.