Off piste snowboarder injured by avalanche at l’Alpe d’Huez

A snowboarder has been seriously injured off piste in the ski resort of l’Alpe d’Huez. The man was alone at the time. He had originally planned to board with a friend but he had turned back, worried about the avalanche risk. The accident occurred in the early afternoon at 2500 meters in the Côtes Rivet / Sarenne sector. The large avalanche carried boarder 800 meters into a terrain trap close to the Sarenne road.

Two skiers who had witnessed the slide started a search using their avalanche beacons, after getting a signal they noticed that the victim was partially visible on the surface of the slide and were able to free him from the snow. The victim, a 28 year old season worker from the resort, is in a critical condition suffering from multiple injuries sustained in the slide. According to the French Weather Service the snow pack continues to be delicate due to weak layers and recent heavy snowfalls, thoughts echoed by both the rescue services and the resort directory who described the conditions as extremely unstable in places. A total of seven skiers died in the French and Italian alps in avalanches over the weekend.

Posted by davidof on Monday, 08 December, 2008 at 05:46 PM

I have a simple question: why does Meteo France only begin Avalanche forecasting next week??? In N America these non-profit forecasting brothers give reports as soon as conditions warrant (as soon as it starts to snow).
I would think French Authorities would consider that many tourists and french citizens could profit from such information being available as soon as it snows, and that the PGHM and CRS would welcome it as well.
And maybe some lives would be saved, due to the importance such daily reports play in education and prevention.

Posted by  on  Thursday, 11 December, 2008  at 09:52 PM

As you know they do a twice weekly bulletin at the moment. I spoke to Cécile Coleou of Meteo France about this a couple of weeks ago. For the 1-5 scale it seems they are quite scientific about this and base it on the number of avalanches on various slope angles and before the ski resorts open they don’t have enough information from the piste services to do the analysis in a statistically meaningful fashion. They are also heavily reliant on pisteurs for the daily bulletin. However resorts have been open since the end of November so you would have thought they would have cranked things into gear by now. There has been a lot of remarks about this in places like too.

I also learned they do an English snow and avalanche bulletin for the Northern Alps… but this is only available to ski resort not on the Web.

She also explained that they would like to move towards a more graphical bulletin like in Utah but again no date for when or if this would happen.

So until it does, we just have to stick our noses outside the window.

Posted by davidof on  Thursday, 11 December, 2008  at 11:33 PM

which means Meteo France does not have the same internal operating structure (budget) as Utah? that they rely mostly on ski resort participation and don’t hire/rely on volunteer data collectors?

Posted by  on  Thursday, 11 December, 2008  at 11:44 PM

Do you think this snowboarder would have taken any notice of it?  His friend had already turned back?

The people who use the mountains shouldn’t need meteo france to tell them there is a risk....

I have skied off piste this year but also I have seen lots of ‘breaks’ in ‘new’ places.

Posted by Chopper on  Sunday, 14 December, 2008  at 10:58 PM
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