Ski tourer killed by Pyrenees avalanche

A 35 year old ski tourer has been killed by an avalanche in the Hautes-Pyrénées close to the ski resort of Val Louron. The deceased was named as Stéphane Sabathé. Originally from Tarbes and a resident of Toulouse was accompanied by a his wife and a friend. They were able to remain on top of the slide and were slightly hurt and in a state of shock. 

The pisteurs from the resort witnessed the avalanche and went to the aid of the skiers. They found Mr. Sabathé thanks to his avalanche beacon and with the help of another witness, a doctor from Toulouse, attempted to resuccitate him but in vain. A team from High Mountain Police (PGHM) stationed at Pierrefitte Nestalas were also despatched by helicopter. The avalanche occurred a little after 1pm on the Pic de Sarrouyes (2,667 meters) close to the border with Spain. The party were properly equipped and said to be experienced mountaineers. Mr Sabathé was a member of the CAF de Tarbes (French Alpine Club).

The website warned that a number of easy routes in the area can present danger, including the climbs to the Pic de Sarrouyes and Pic d’Estos. Meteo France had given the avalanche risk as 2 (Moderate) for the Haute-Bigorre border area today. The bulletin said snow levels were good to normal at low altitude, below average above 2000 meters. The report said that the last major snowfalls, dating from the 9-10 December, were generally well stabilized with little risk of accidental avalanche and just some small slabs on northern slopes in the frontier zones.

Posted by davidof on Sunday, 23 December, 2007 at 11:52 PM

If I translated the paper correctly cause of death wasn’t suffocation but the ride i.e. some impact. The paper mentioned ‘instant’ death.

Posted by  on  Wednesday, 26 December, 2007  at 05:28 PM

Do you have a web link? Any idea what side of the mountain it happened on?

Posted by davidof on  Wednesday, 26 December, 2007  at 10:24 PM

I’ve just read the Depeche Article, the doctor who went to help said the victim had been crushed by the weight of snow probably with a fractured spine. As you say he was killed by the slide.

Posted by davidof on  Thursday, 27 December, 2007  at 03:34 PM
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