You would think that a map and compass would be standard kit when heading into the mountains, especially with the low cloud that has enveloped the summits over the last week bringing with it almost zero visibility at times. Two major rescue operations this weekend and a number of other anecdotes suggest that many backcountry travelers are auditioning for a part in Lost.
Where did I leave the map and compass?
Early this morning two missing ski tourers, a father and son from Marseilles were found by rescue services. They had set out on Saturday morning from the ski resort of Chamrousse in the direction of Lac Achard. Normally a well signposted trip with clear trails they became lost in the dense cloud enveloping the mountainside. During the afternoon they attempted to climb up to the ski resorts but were further disoriented. The mother alerted the rescue services when the pair failed to return. A small team found the missing skiers at 2000 meters between the lac Robert and the Refuge de la Pra shortly after midnight. They had built a small snow cave and were preparing for the night.
On Friday two snowboarders got lost in poor visibility in the same area. The boarders, aged 16 and 17 and from the region, left the ski slopes of Chamrousse. A search of the resort by piste workers found no trace of the missing boys. They were joined by the CRS des Alpes and specialist members of the fire service (GRIMP) around 20h30. With half a meter of fresh snow accompanied by strong winds the avalanche risk was Considerable and the families must have feared the worst. In the wind temperatures were -20C.
Shortly after midnight searchers on the ground found snowboard tracks leading into a steep couloir above the Romanche valley. A decision was made to scramble the helicopter attached to the Securite Civile. Once again the Aloutte III based at l’Alpe d’Huez flew into action. This helicopter had plucked a British snowboarder from a dangerous cliff face close to les Deux Alpes on the 2nd of March, 2007 during a dramatic nighttime rescue mission.
The helicopter spotted the two youths using its powerful searchlight. They were trapped in a dangerous position above cliff bands. With the cliff face just meters away the crew were able to winch the two young men aboard. The youngest was suffering from mild frostbite and hypothermia.
Alouette III rescue helicopter below les Deux Alpes
Last Saturday (17th March, 2007). Two snowboarders from nearby Bourg d’Oisans spent an uncomfortable night at 2400 meters altitude on slopes below les Deux Alps. They had planned to descend the a couloir to St Christophe en Oisans in the valley below. However the south facing slopes lacked snow cover for the enterprise. The men had taken the precaution of discussing their plans with the piste patrol at les Deux Alpes who, worried about the risks, had asked them to make contact once they reached St Christophe. Neither man was carrying a mobile. In the early evening the Sécurité Civile helicopter from l’Alpe d’Huez carrying members of the PGHM over flew the zone but could find no trace of the missing boarders in the poor visibility. The search began the next day at dawn and found the men blocked by cliffs below the summit of la Toura.
Posted by davidof
on Sunday, 25 March, 2007 at 06:00 PM
Nothing beyond what was reported by the media. It was an exceptional rescue and I’m glad to hear you will be meeting up with Herve Labarde. I’m sure he can fill you in otherwise if there is anything specific you need to know I can try to find out some more details.
There is a lot of discussion about the incident here
You obviously showed great fortitude to have survived your ordeal.
Posted by davidof
on Tuesday, 24 July, 2007 at 10:33 AM
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