MD of Club Med Avalanched at Valmorel

Henri Giscard d’Estaing the Managing Director of the holiday group Club Méditerranée (Club Med) was part of a group of five off piste skiers involved in an avalanche at Valmorel today. Giscard d’Estaing was in the region to open newly renovated apartments in Tignes. In les Gets a ski instructor was killed by an avalanche and another skier was seriously injured in la Clusaz.

The oldest son of the former French President, he was skiing with an instructor, the director of the station Alain Blas, and two executives from Club Med. The avalanche occurred in the Combe de la Rave close to the col de la Madeleine burying one of Mr D’Estaign’s colleagues. The alert was given at 13h30, the group were able to locate the buried man using their avalanche beacons. He was recovered in a state of cardio-vascular arrest and is in a very serious condition. They were apparently “surveying the site” according to a police spokesman. Club Méditerranée is planning 1350 new beds in Valmorel as part of its luxury 4 Tridents programme. With the opening of the Celliers gondola lift d’Estaing may have also been examining the potential on that side of the valley.

In the Haute-Savoie a local ski instructor from the resort of les Gets has been killed by an avalanche on Mont Chéry (1826 meters) in the Chablais. He was skiing a couloir on the north face. The alert was given at 16h00 and a team from the fire brigade accompanied by pisteurs from the local resorts recovered Jean-Michel Delavay, owner of a shop in the resort, in a state of cardio-vascular arrest.

Two skiers were caught by a slide skiing off piste in the combe de l’Étale at la Clusaz in the Aravis. Carried over cliffs. Two off duty piste patrollers witnessed the slide and came to the rescue. They located one of the men using their avalanche beacons, he suffered a fractured tibia. The other man escaped without injury. Another pair of skiers were caught by an avalanche on the Brevant skiing the couloir sous la Bergerie. They were rescued by witnesses assisted later by specialist police units (PGHM) from Chamonix. Neither skier suffered any injuries. The avalanche risk was High (4/5) in the Haute-Savoie yesterday.

The local authorities warned skiers to take care. Between 40 to 90cm of snow has fallen since Sunday.

Five soldiers were injured this morning during a ski tour by an avalanche in the Alpes-de-Haute-Provence near the col de Larche. The avalanche occurred around midday in a wooded section of the vallon du Font-Crèse under the Bec de l’Aigle. Two of the soldiers were completely buried one was recovered using the signal from his avalanche transceiver and the other due to a surface indication. The soldiers suffered injuries due to collisions with the trees, one is in a serious condition with a head injury. There have been a number of dramas on the col de Larche (see Pistehors archives). The soldiers had altered their route to remain in the forest due to the high avalanche risk. Meteo France has warned skiers and climbers of snow slides in the Vosges, particularly on steeper slopes such as the Hohneck couloirs.

[Note: the Club Med exec died later in hospital]

Posted by davidof on Tuesday, 20 January, 2009 at 05:28 PM

An off piste skier had a narrow escape after getting triggering an avalanche at Serre Chevalier around 16h00. He was in the Montagnole sector at 2300 meters. A popular route with freeriders. The victim was carried around 400 meters by the slide. Rescued by the CRS des Alpes from Briancon he suffered a broken arm. The avalanche risk was a Considerable.

There was another avalanche at la Clusaz without victims and also a rare large avalanche at Habere Poche at around 15h45. The local piste services launched a large search operation which lasted until nightfall without finding a victim.

Posted by davidof on  Thursday, 22 January, 2009  at 02:31 PM

Another soldier from the parachute regiment based on Corsica has been injured in an avalanche. The accident occured in the commune of Saint-Paul-sur-Ubaye. The victim was 31st in a column of 33 soldiers on a training exercise using touring skis when he was caught and buried by a snow slab.

It took his comrades a little under 10 minutes to rescue him from teh snow. He was suffering from mild back and leg injuries and was able to leave hospital later in the day.

Posted by davidof on  Thursday, 22 January, 2009  at 05:28 PM
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