Walkers killed by avalanche in the cirque de Gavarnie

Accordng to the High Mountain Police (PGHM) based at Pierrefitte Nestalas in the Hautes-Pyrénées two walkers have fallen to their deaths this afternoon in the cirque de Gavarnie. The two victims, aged in their late 50s where at the échelle des Sarradets. According to capitain Bertrand Couret, spokesman for the PGHM “it is likely that they were taken by a snow purge… there is a lot of snow above 2000 meters and the conditions are like winter with a high risk of avalanche”.

The couple were on the second part of the route which is very steep and currently snow covered. The route is dangerous under such conditions. The snow pack in the Pyrenees and Alps is currently dangerous at altitude with considerable fresh snow covering a base that is waterlogged below 3000 meters. There was an avalanche in the Mont Blanc range on Saturday and the refuges in the Ecrins have reported a lot of snow fall with many natural avalanches. Below the snow line there is a danger of rock and mud slides and the risk of falling due to the slippery conditions.


Posted by davidof on Wednesday, 04 June, 2008 at 06:45 PM

I’ve updated the spring/summer snow conditions thread here.


Posted by davidof on  Sunday, 08 June, 2008  at 12:02 PM

The couple were English.  They were equipped ice axes etc. but were avalanched.

Interestingly, others, who talked to the couple about 1 hour before the accident, turned back because of the conditions - first ‘hot’ day for a while.

Posted by  on  Sunday, 08 June, 2008  at 06:21 PM

Sounds like they didn’t expect the quantity of snow this time of year. I guess at least they died together.

Posted by davidof on  Sunday, 08 June, 2008  at 09:02 PM

Here is the link to the article in la Depeche.

Accident at 2200 meters on an east facing slope. The route is a very steep path, the word “echelle” alludes to the steepness, which winds up through cliff bands so extremely exposed. The couple were killed by the fall of 150 meters rather than by the possible snow purge itself.

Posted by davidof on  Sunday, 08 June, 2008  at 09:08 PM
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