Gavarnie cut off by monster avalanche

The only access road to the Pyrenean ski resort of Gavarnie has been blocked by an enormous snow slide. A motorist travelling down from the resort was surprised by a slow moving avalanche late yesterday afternoon. The slide is some 15 meters deep and 150 meters wide. The local authorities have had to ask neighbouring areas to send equipment to help clear the blockage.

In the short term the authorities had planned to let residents cross on foot with a system of buses to transport them on the other side however after advice from experts this solution has been abandoned on security grounds. A number of people had crossed the slide on foot yesterday evening. Such snow purges are not uncommon in the spring and usually run along known avalanche corridors. The avalanche risk was High (4/5) above 2200-2400 meters with 60 to 80cm of fresh snow on the Pic de Piméné over the last few days. The avalanche bulletin had warned of spontaneous slides during the day as the surface of the snow was warmed, these could be consequent below 2400 meters where the snow was waterlogged from rain.

Further Information

Photos from Simon d’Etache

Posted by davidof on Monday, 21 April, 2008 at 10:06 AM

The road re-opened tonight.

Apparently, the last ‘big’ avalanche here was ‘99.  Before this date almost yearly avalanches took place across this point of the road.

Posted by  on  Tuesday, 22 April, 2008  at 05:18 AM

1999 was of course the year of major avalanches in Europe. It certainly looked impressive on the TV news last night.

Posted by davidof on  Tuesday, 22 April, 2008  at 01:44 PM

An article in la Depeche

Posted by davidof on  Tuesday, 22 April, 2008  at 05:25 PM
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