Tignes season worker killed by avalanche

A snowboarder has been killed off-piste in Tignes by an avalanche yesterday. The avalanche occurred in the Tufs couloir in the Toviere sector above Tignes le Lac. With light snow and poor visibility the conditions were marginal at the time of the accident according to rescuers from specialized mountain police units of the CRS des Alpes based in Courchevel. The victim was buried under 150cm of snow.

Tignes Avalanche
Avalanche site in the “Fingers” couloirs - Henry Schniewind

Fabrice Vion, brigadier with the CRS, explained that the two boarders were properly equipped with beacons and shovels but the depth of burial and the size of shovel meant that the time taken to recover the victim was significant. The Tufs sector is avalanche prone with the added danger of the lake under part of the slope. Within meters of the ski runs and Toviere lift it has been the scene of numerous fatal avalanches.

tufs sector
Tufs couloirs

The 30 year old man had been located and partially dug out by a friend but in a state of cardio-vascular arrest by the time members of the piste patrol from Tignes arrived on the scene. The man, a New Zealand national, was a season worker at one of the Tignes hotels. There had been significant snow at altitude on Monday. The risk profile is split into two with a significant increase in risk as skiers progress above the recent snowline of 2000-2200 meters. At the time of the incident the overall risk was Considerable (3/5) above 2200 meters with skiers triggered avalanches are likely especially in known avalanche spots. There were 60 natural avalanches recorded in the Savoie over Monday by the piste patrols with skier trigged slides on West, North-West and South sector slopes during Tuesday. Some of the avalanches were significant, 100cm in depth. Although the base is generally stable the lack of snow since mid-December had left a hard sliding surface. Strong winds and fresh snow at the start of the week formed new slabs on this sliding surface.

There have been two avalanche fatalities since Saturday bringing to five the overall number of avalanche deaths since the start of the season.

Further Information

Tignes Avalanche Bulletin
Two Snowboarders Killed by Tignes Avalanche
French avalanches kill four
Two fatalities in l’Espace Killy avalanches

Posted by davidof on Thursday, 10 January, 2008 at 05:48 AM

A very sad occurance. We were staying overnight in the hotel on Tuesday night and saw Dan briefly at breakfast on Wednesday morning. We skied off-piste at Val d’Isere/La Fornet on Wednesday and conditions were difficult to say the least. We abandoned some of our plans & finished on the pistes.

Posted by  on  Wednesday, 23 January, 2008  at 06:06 PM

"the depth of burial and the size of shovel meant that the time taken to recover the victim was significant” - Fabrice Vion, brigadier with the CRS.

The Gendarmarie investigation included checking the time the boarders went through the Aeroski lift (electronically logged)and comparing it with the time the first emergency call was made, along with the time and situation when emergency services first arrived on the scene. They concluded that the victim’s face was buried in the compacted snow for approximately 10 minutes. The CRS advised at the time cause of death was massive trauma and shock (presumably caused by mechanical snow pressure and/or collision with obstacles in the avalanche path). Irrelevant perhaps to most, but not if it’s you doing the digging and your dear friend who is down.

There is a Facebook group in remembrance of the victim. Search ‘Dan the Man’ on http://www.facebook.com

Posted by  on  Wednesday, 03 November, 2010  at 12:05 AM
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