Two serious avalanche accidents in the Hautes-Pyrénées and Ariège departments have left one dead and three injured. On Saturday afternoon 31 year old Spanish mountaineer was killed by an avalanche while climbing an ice-fall with a friend. The accident occurred close to the Andorran border at the étangs (lakes) de Fontargente in the Aston valley. One man was buried, the other was able free himself and alert the rescue services.
Rescue workers from the PGHM assisted by a dog handler arrived on the scene but had to abandon their search due to deteriorating weather conditions. The search operation restarted yesterday assisted by a helicopter and the man’s body was recovered using his avalanche transceiver.
There was also an avalanche at Gavarnie. A snowslab gave way under the weight of seven walkers, all residents of the Hautes-Pyrénées. Didier Nogué, a spokeman for the CRS at Gavarnie attributed the accident to the extra load presented by the group of walkers, aged from 16 to 21. The slab, some 1.5 meters deep and 200 meters long buried two of the group. Fortunately the other members of the group were able to use their avalanche transceivers to rescue the victims, a man and a woman who was taken to hospital in Tarbes by police helicopter. A second avalanche on the pic Lary in the Gavarnie sector invoving two groups of three people. No-one was injured.
Last season there were three avalanche fatalities in the French Pyrénées mountains.