Posted on: 2023-04-09 16:32:34 by davidof

Fatal avalanche on the Dômes de Miage

A large avalanche, visible from the valley, has claimed the lives of six ski tourers and injured another on the glacier d’Armancette in the territory of Contamines-Montjoie in the Mont Blanc range. The avalanche occured at 11h20. The avalanche was very large, 500 meters wide in places and ran around 1.5km and around 80 to 130cm deep. The sector is popular with ski tourers with the refuges of the Conscrits and Tré-la-tête close to the route. The slab type avalanche occurred on a west facing slope around 3500 meters altitude. The victims were two local guides and their clients. In total 15 skiers were involved in the incident in three guided groups. They were doing the popular traverse of the Dômes de Miage which usually involves a night in the Refuge des Conscrits before descending the Armancette the next day from the summit.

The avalanche risk was 2 in the sector above 2400 meters. The bulletin warned of wet and windblown snow as the principal risks. There had been around 5cm of fresh snow in the sector in Friday with rare, hard to trigger windslab present with the risk increasing with altitude due to the prevailing wind from the north-east. However the bulletin went on to warn of the possibility of very localized large slides due to a persistent weak layer.

A trip report from the sector posted on the website camp2camp on the 8th April was less reassuring:

"The problem is the wind that blows above 3300 meters from the north. In two hours is formed some enormous slabs on the right side of the ridge. After two loud "whompfs" we made the hard decision to U-turn. In terms of avalanche risk the sector is very tricky, some zones are ultra stable and in others there are huge accumulations due to the wind. Be very careful."