A group of 4 ski tourers have triggered an avalanche under the 2253m col de Montjoie above the ski resort of Saint-François Longchamp and two snow shoers have fallen on icy snow avoiding avalanche debris in the Bauges.
The skiers had climbed to the 2375 meter Roc Rouge on touring skis. Tne avalanche was triggered on the descent. One member of the group was lightly buried and was able to free herself and call her husband who alerted the rescue services who were rapidly on the scene. They found another group member after 45 minutes under the snow with hypothermia. Jean-Daneil Escande, aged 53, and the group’s 38 year old guide, Eric Michel, were killed by the slide. Mr Michel was a member of the local guides office and was very familiar with this route. The other group members were French. Mr Escande was a doctor specialising in sports and based in Lille. He was a well known expert in doping.
The col de Montjoie is in the Lauzière range and is someone PH spoke to about the route said it was usually reasonably safe on higher risk days. The slopes under the col are east facing and strong westerly winds along with 50-80cm of snow would have contributed to the accumulations. The avalanche risk was High (4/5) above 1800 meters. The avalanche bulletin for the area suggested that the most dangerous slopes were to the north and east with some large slabs between 80 – 200cm in place. A single skier could trigger a large avalanche. Well known writer and climber Pierre Chapoutot was killed by an avalanche close by on the 20th of January.
Two snow shoers suffered a fall after making a detour to avoid avalanche debris in the col d’Orgeval (1732m) sector above the village of Jarsy in the Bauges mountains. One of the group was killed after sliding over a cliff on icy snow.
Cyril Deprés, the French Paris-Dakar motorbike champion escaped unhurt from an avalanche which killed his companion. The pair were skiing off-piste near Arinsal in the principality of Andorra. The avalanche occured on the slopes of the Galliner at 2,500 metres this afternoon.
A group of three off-piste snowboarders triggered an avalanche at les Deux Alpes in the combe des Gours around midday. The group was not equipped with avalanche beacons. One of the boarders was caught by the slide but was rescued without serious injury. There was an avalanche that badly injured a skier in the same sector on the 21st of February.
A member of the Skipass.com forum also triggered a large avalanche in the woods above Serre Chevalier. The slide occured at 1700 meters on a north facing slope. There were no victims but it is a reminder that if woods are open enough to ride they are open enough to slide.