Avalanches kill four ski mountaineers

Four peple have been killed in three separate incidents in the French Alps and Pyrenees today. The first avalanche occurred around 13h00 in the Pelvoux range at 2400 meters altitude. An Italian skier in his 60s was caught in the slide. Rescued by members of his group he was pronounced dead by a doctor brought to the scene by the CRS helicopter from Briançon.

snow transport
Snow transport today in the Savoie

The avalanche risk was Considerable (3/5) with a strong wind from the north to north-east. The 50cm of fresh snow in the Pelvoux had formed many unstable slabs under the action of south then northerly winds.

A young couple were caught by an avalanche at 16h00 on the north-west face of the Grand Mont d’Arêches (2686m) in Beaufortain range in the Savoie. The victims were Coralie Molliet, ski instructor with the ESF and Loïs Maurin also a ski instructor and competitor in last year’s gruelling Pierra-Menta ski mountaineering competition. Both were natives of the ski resort of Arêches and well known in the area. It appears they triggered a small slab that carried them over cliffs. The accident has come as a shock to the alpine village. The Meteo France avalanche bulletin gave the risk as considerable above 1700 meters in the Beaufortain. The bulletin warned of new soft and hard slabs formed under the action of a strong north wind as well as older slabs still present under the fresh snow and said that they were poorly bonded to the freeze-thaw crust or were resting on a weak facetted snow layer. These slabs could be triggered by the passage of a single skier.

pic de la mine
East face of the Pic de la Mine

At Porté Puymorens in the Pyrenees three climbers triggered a slab avalanche on the east face of the Pic de la Mine near the Baillette ridge. Two of the climbers suffered multiple fractures during a fall of 200 meters. One was able to alert the fire service in Andorra by mobile phone and they were joined by specialists from the French CRS. A third climber, aged 37 year old Spanish national, resident of Barcelona (Manresa and Taradell districts), was found in a state of cardiac arrest. Taken to hospital in Andorre-la-Vieille by helicopter the medical team were unable to resuccitate him.. The avalanche risk was Moderate (2/5) at the time. The bulletin noted some slabs formed by the recent light snowfall and strong winds, largely on steep north to east facing slopes.

Posted by on Saturday, 27 January, 2007 at 05:05 PM

Do you have names for any of the victims?

Posted by Garry Dagg on  Thursday, 01 February, 2007  at 03:04 AM

Hi Garry, the names of the two Beaufortain instructors are in the article. They were locals from Arêches. The Barcelona climbers were from the Manresa and Taradell areas.

Posted by davidof on  Thursday, 01 February, 2007  at 10:50 AM

A skier was also slightly injured in an avalanche at les Gets on the 27th. The slide carried the skier over 200m down the slope.

Posted by davidof on  Wednesday, 14 February, 2007  at 04:08 PM
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