Alive after 17 hours under an avalanche

A 21 years old has been found alive under an avalanche after 17 hours. He was found conscious and with just mild hypothermia according to the rescue services.

The man was skiing off piste near Evolène in the Swiss Valais when he was buried by the slide. His family reported him missing at 17h30 and a search found a slide measuring 50 by 150 meters with tracks entering. However for safety reasons the search operation had to be suspended until Sunday morning.

At first light rescue workers in a helicopter over flew the slide and saw the surface of the snow move. The man was buried some 50cm under the snow and was probably saved by the depth of burial and an air pocket he had managed to create around his head.


Posted by davidof on Sunday, 07 February, 2010 at 11:20 PM

Defies the odds!! What impresses me is the fact he only had mild hypothermia. I want to know what brand of clothing he was wearing!

Posted by  on  Monday, 08 February, 2010  at 09:54 AM

When you think that most people die after 20mins under thats amazing

Posted by Steven on  Monday, 08 February, 2010  at 03:49 PM

The Nouvelliste has a more precise account

The accident was in the Pas d’Arpilles sector. The man was buried by the slide around 15h00 on Saturday. After a difficult search (no helicopter due to the weather) the slide was found at 1h30 on Sunday. The search was halted at 2h30 after checking the surface for indications (the victim presumably had neither Recco nor a Beacon) due to the risk of secondary avalanches. A helicopter overflew the scene at dawn. I assume that is around 7h30. The man was buried but the top of his helmet was just below the surface of the snow so he was probably able to breath but amazing he didn’t not suffer severe or fatal hypothermia. I had a friend who was buried up to his neck in an avalanche and he was in a very poor way after 50 minutes. I assume the snow was maybe not too dense in this case.

Posted by davidof on  Monday, 08 February, 2010  at 10:33 PM

WOW What a lucky chap! must be a record?

Posted by  on  Monday, 08 February, 2010  at 11:37 PM

Les Temps has a long interview with the survivor, Cédric Genoud.|0

I saw all that untracked powder, I skied the north face, everything was fine, then a sunnier section, the snow started to move under my skis, it didn’t seem like a big slide but I found myself under 50cm of snow, I was able to make some space by moving my head but the snow had entombed me, I realized I was stuck, I tried to move my hands but could only move my head, it was like concrete. Night fell, it was the longest of my whole life, I tried to stay awake, I would drift off for a few minutes then wake up, I ate snow. It was a struggle against myself. I thought of my mother a lot, my brother too. I prayed, I started to believe in something above, it was one of the first time I’d prayed, the other times it didn’t work. What I did that day was stupid, inconsiderate of others, childish, you need to be a lot more prudent than I was to correctly judge the conditions”.

Cedric was skiing alone without an avalanche beacon. The risk was 3/5.

Posted by davidof on  Tuesday, 09 February, 2010  at 01:48 PM
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