A 14 year Swiss girl, caught by an avalanche in the Haute-Savoie ski resort of la Clusaz died in hospital this evening. The avalanche occurred at 13h30 in the Combe de la Balme sector at 2,400 meters close to the Crintiaux piste.
The slide measured 50 by 500 meters. The weather was extremely cold, around -15C. A group of 12 skiers, accompanied by a guide and a ski instructor were involved. The girl was rapidly found due to her avalanche transceiver but was in a state of cardiac arrest and hypothermia. She was taken to hospital in Annecy then later transferred to Geneva.
Probe Search on the avalanche site at La Clusaz
©2003 Frederic Laugier
Eye witnesses claimed that the avalanche was set off by the passage of two snowboarders above the skiers. They were thought to be heading to the popular Combe Bellachat off-piste route on the ridge from the Col de la Roule. A smaller avalanche involving a guide and his clients happened in the same sector last season.
It was initially thought that there was a second victim, not part of the group, but after a thorough search the piste security have discounted this idea. The avalanche risk was 3 on a scale out of 5 but attention was drawn to the risk of slabs on cols and ridges.