A rare avalanche at 1,647 meters in the Brèche de Rolland close to the Col de Cere in the Plomb du Cantal range of the Massif Central caught a group of a 9 trainee alpinists and their instructor.
The slide occurred at 13h15, four of the group were buried, three of the group, all from Limoges, managed to free themselves, the fourth, an instructor aged 43 years was found by rescuers in a state of cardiac arrest. The rescue team composed members of the Gendarmerie from Murat and 30 members of the fire services.
Michel Cheyvialle, one of the rescue workers on the scene told PisteHors that the group were equipped with avalanche transceivers and were not deeply buried. He went on to recount the day, “I live in the Cantal at the foot of the Puy Mary and I was called in my function as a rescue worker to the avalanche under the Brèche de Rolland. That day I thought about doing a ski tour. In the morning it was sunny but a lot of wind, bearing in mind the fresh snow hat had fallen a few days previously that hadn’t stuck to the frozen base I decided to abandon my plan. Too dangerous. However a lot of people did go out, including, of course, the CAF group from Limoges that triggered a windslab avalanche with their snow shoes at 13h00. A slide that caught 9 people. The result, of course, was tragic, an instructor from the CAF was killed.”
He concluded that “owning an avalanche transceiver is a good start, but during an avalanche rescue every minute counts, you cannot afford to lose 5 minutes just working out how to switch your beacon to search mode, the PisteHors news pages remind backcountry users of the dangers they run in the mountains and that they should get some training.... The Massif Central may well be considered a mountain fit for cows, but the cows there share their genes with the Mountain Goats of Alps!”
There are no official avalanche bulletins for the Massif Central region of France although backcountry travellers can contact the various piste services or Gendarmeries for information. Snowfall had been heavy during February with some new snow over the last few days.