Skier missing under Crévoux avalanche

A search restarted first thing this morning in the vain hope of finding a missing ski tourer buried under an avalanche above the ski resort of Crévoux in the Hautes-Alpes. The alert was given at 16h00 yesterday by a snowboarder who was accompanying the man.

Two men decided to climb from the top of the lifts, 44 year old Gérald Weidmann, from nearby Guillestre with skis, his friend on a snowboard. Their aim, to ski some of the off-piste on the Pic-Haut. Neither man was equipped with an avalanche beacon, a fact that complicated the recovery operation although the size of the avalanche would probably have been fatal. Mr Weidmann apparently triggered a slab but managed to escape, it seems this first slide remotely triggered a second slab above the skier. He was taken down the mountain and into a terrain trap.

The avalanche occurred at 2300 meters altitude on the Pic Haut. The slide measured 800 by 500 meters and was several meters deep, it took practically the whole face of the mountain. A large team of ski patrollers, police and ski instructors probed the slide until conditions became dangerous around 21h00. They were aided by three helicopters, specialist members of the fire service (GRIMP), PGHM, CRS and soldiers based nearby.

The avalanche risk was High (4/5) at the time. The bulletin advised that the snowpack was very instable at altitude. There had been two avalanches on Tuesday 13th February. One involving a skier in the Pelvoux the other snowshoers in the Thabor. Both avalanches were at around 2300m on eastern slopes. In the Savoie four off-piste skiers at Tignes and a skier at les Arcs were caught by avalanches but with no injuries.

Posted by davidof on Friday, 16 February, 2007 at 12:31 PM

The body of the missing skier was found in the early afternoon. Six off piste skiers have died in France since the start of winter. There have been four avalanche deaths in the Hautes-Alpes department.

Posted by davidof on  Friday, 16 February, 2007  at 09:04 PM
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