Four killed in avalanche at Valmeinier

Four skiers have been killed by a major avalanche close to the ski resort of Valmeinier early this afternoon. The group was composed of seven high school kids from the Savoie and their guide, they were ski touring above the resort. A total of eight ski tourers have died since the weekend in three incidents. With fresh snow at altitude conditions remain unstable.

Two other members of the group were seriously injured with another skier escaping without injury. The slide measured 900 x 600 meters. The accident happened at 2670 meters sometime before noon on west facing slopes between the col des Marches (2725 m) and the lac de Roche Noire. One of the group escaped the slide and alerted the rescue services. A large rescue operation involving the High Mountain Poice from Modane and Grenoble and piste patrollers from Valmeiniers as well as soldiers was put in place. Helicopters were unable to reach the scene of the incident due to low cloud cover. All members of the group were wearing avalanche beacons.

The avalanche risk was forecast as Considerable (3/5) with between 30 and 70cm of fresh snow since Sunday and 15-40cm over the night of Wednesday accompanied by strong winds from the North and West. The avalanche bulletin warned that north-west to north-east slope aspects should be treated great care with the possibility of a single skier triggering a slab.

Posted by davidof on Wednesday, 11 March, 2009 at 07:31 PM

I was in the Chablais yesterday. It was a quite complicated day regarding snow conditions. Cloudy and still cold enough in the morning. Excellent deep powder skiing! But the instant the sun came out, around 11am, the snow transformed at record speed. By 1pm it was spring skiing at 2000m. We were triggering surface slides all over the place (10-15 cms deep), but the potential for a bigger one was not far. March skiing definitely requires early starts!

Posted by  on  Thursday, 12 March, 2009  at 10:05 AM

Locally conditions continue to be dangerous. In the Belledonne a ski tourer was caught by an avalanche in a couloir on the east side of Casserousse on the edge of the Chamrousse ski area. He was able to dig himself out of the slide but suffered an ankle injury which required the intervention of the rescue services.

In the Vercors two ski tourers were badly injured on the Cornafion in the Vercors when they triggered a snow slab which carried them over cliffs. A third skier escaped without injuries.

The two survivors from the Valmeinier avalanche are, according to a statement issued by the Prefeture, now out of danger.

Posted by davidof on  Friday, 13 March, 2009  at 03:32 PM

Valmeinier avalanche, did the guide get it wrong?

Posted by davidof on  Friday, 13 March, 2009  at 04:16 PM

Three off piste skiers were caught by an avalanche late on Friday afternoon in the ski resort of Saint Lary Soulan. The avalanche happened in the Espiaube sector between the refuge des Trois-Guides and the Torte chairlift.

None of the group were buried by the slide. One of the skiers suffered from a fractured femur and was rescued by the piste services.

The avalanche was natural, probably due to the spring like temperatures in the afternoon.

Posted by davidof on  Sunday, 15 March, 2009  at 11:25 PM
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