Deadliest weekend in French Alps since 2006

A Swiss woman has been killed by an avalanche skiing off piste at la Toussuire in the Sybelles ski area. The woman was with her husband in the Vallée Perdue when they triggered a small slide. The husband gave the alert from a shop in resort.  The victim was found by an avalanche dog under 150cm of snow.

legette du miratin
Légette du Mirantin

A woman in her 70s been killed on la Légette du Mirantin (2353m) above the ski resort of Arêches Beaufort. The group of three had climbed to the summit on touring skis and were descending the face at around 2000 meters when they triggered a snow slab. The normal route is 35° over 300 meters. The victim didn’t have a beacon and was found after 40 minutes under the snow by an avalanche dog.

Three snowboarders escaped an avalanche off piste in the couloir du Seuil at Valfréjus. It appears the slide was triggered by skiers further up the slope. A total of seven people have died off piste over the weekend in the Northern Alps. In terms of the number of deaths and incidents it is the deadliest winter weekend since 2006 when a total of 57 people died in avalanches.

Posted by davidof on Sunday, 25 January, 2009 at 07:05 PM

Ambrose MANUS, a guide has given this eyewitness report

I was present yesterday at the slide yesterday at 13h00 a slide in the Beaufortain range in the combe nord sous le lieu dit « Côte 2000 » which links to the bottom of the east face of the Légette du Mirantin exactly at the point of the blue triangle formed by the ski routes on the IGN map.

The tour had about 30 skiers including a group of 6. The victim, 71 years old and “experienced” was skiing in the bowl of powder snow. Two skiers and a dog had preceeded her without any problems and maybe 1 or 2 other skiers from her group.

The whole bowl went, her colleagues noted the point where she was buried about 20 meters before the end of the deposition zone.

Alerted by a colleague I arrived 10 minutes later (trace left on the photo - see link below).

The witnesses told me that the victim had a beacon but it was not switched on. A checked to see if there was signal then tried to organize a probe line. Out of 12 people only 3 had probes. The rescue services were alerted by phone and I called in on my radio.

We tried to get help from other skiers but it was chaos.

A helicopter arrived with help 15 minutes later. They tried to take control An avalanche dog started to search. Second rotation of the helicopter brought longer probes (we couldn’t touch the base of the avalanche) and a second dog from the Arêches ski patrol with his master. The dog found the victim in 30 seconds. The victim was under 1 meter of snow at 2 meters from the end of the avalanche. The avalanche was 40-70cm deep and 100 m wide and ran 100m on a number of branches.

see also

Data Avalanches

Posted by davidof on  Wednesday, 28 January, 2009  at 04:56 PM
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