Fatality in Grand Vallon - Val d’Isere

A Danish skier in his thirties has been killed by an avalanche this afternoon at Val d’Isère. The avalanche occurred on the West facing Grand Vallon at 2700 meters altitude. The skier was part of a group of eight from the UCPA and accompanied by an instructor.

This is the second avalanche fatality in Val d’Isere this season and brings to six the number of skiers killed in avalanches in the Savoie since the start of the winter. Three of the incidents were with groups accompanied by professionals. Last Thursday a man died in the gorges de Malpasset.

See http://www.getoffpiste.com/ for further information.

Posted by on Monday, 18 January, 2010 at 07:52 PM

Actually, the skier was swedish and 40 years old.

Posted by  on  Tuesday, 19 January, 2010  at 09:00 AM

Just heard this week that in at least one of the instructor courses running there, the students were told by a trainer that they could go out with their transceivers on, but did not require their shovels and probes in their rucksacks.

What is the point of wearing a transceiver if no one you are skiing with could dig you out except with bare hands once they roughly locate you (without use of a probe) ?

WTF does this say about the pros, when even the training of ski instructors re: avalanche safety makes no sense and yet is taking place during all these deaths - when people should be even more aware than ever ?

Posted by  on  Wednesday, 20 January, 2010  at 10:05 PM

Ref the comment about transceivers / digging and probing equip for groups under instruction - I ski the Espace Killy off-piste throughout the winter, and am constantly flabbergasted by the size of off-piste groups under ‘instruction’ and also clear lack of safety equipment - not a backpack in sight usually - especially if the groups are ESF or UCPA.  The worst case I saw in March last year, was 2 ESF (Val Claret) groups on the lower half of the Grande Balme after new snow - the skier group was about 17 and no one - including the instructor - had a backpack.  Ditto the snowboarding group which was about 20 or so!!!!  They came from above us (3 of us) and it was like a Chinese downhill, everyone going at once.  I was FURIOUS!  When I challenged them about the size of their groups, they answered that it was “the school holidays and you know how it is"… and then got really aggressive with me when I asked them where their off-piste equipment was, and why they had allowed their groups to potentially endanger others lower down.  Great PR for the ESF, and a reconfirmation of why I never recommend this “ski school” to anyone - whatever level.

Posted by  on  Thursday, 21 January, 2010  at 03:25 PM

The group I was talking about was actually English but I am certain it happens everywhere. I just don’t understand why. I really really don’t. You’d think the deaths of colleagues would be enough to serve as some type of wake up call ?

Posted by  on  Thursday, 21 January, 2010  at 03:54 PM

We were snowoarding in a forrest terrain off piste not far from there when this avalanche occured. I saw the huge slide but most of all could not belive that a prodessional would take his clients to such a dangerouse location ; the traces ofthe ski’s where coming from the “goulet” aove the vast open space - it was clearly an accident waitingto happen...Only few years ago having instructors involed in those accidents was an exception and now it is almost one out of two cases ...There must be an explanation ; should be interesting to check if the age of the instructors has anything to do with this phenomenon ; I have the impression that the “old shool “ mountain guides are less willing to take such risks...Maight be wrong but worth checking

Posted by  on  Thursday, 21 January, 2010  at 06:12 PM
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