Avoriaz Avalanche Victim Located by Mobile Phone

A member of the Bourg St Maurice Mountain Police (PGHM), missing since Thursday has been found dead close to the ski resort of Avoriaz after setting out alone on a ski tour.

The search for Olivier Buffet, aged 20, got underway on Thursday evening when he didn’t return to his parents house near to Avoriaz.  His mobile phone was localised by his operator in the Arare-les-Crozats sector at 2000 meters altitude where a large avalanche had been spotted.  This is on a route frequently used by ski tourists.  At first light on Saturday 170 rescue workers and 2 helicopters were used in the search.  The man’s body was eventually found under the slide.

In Tignes, an English snowboarder was caught by an avalanche while riding off-piste but was rescued without injury by the pisteurs from the resort.

With accumulations of up to 2.50 meters of snow, winds up to 140km/h and 30 cm of fresh snow on Friday night the avalanche risk is extremely high.  Early season snowfall is particularly unstable as there is no base and the ground is warm.  A member of the Isère mountain police warned backcountry users not to travel alone and to carry search and rescue equipment, in particular transceivers, shovels and probes. The fresh snow makes it very difficult for search and rescue dogs to work.

Posted by davidof on Sunday, 02 November, 2003 at 12:42 AM

An Obituary by Jean Pierre Jacquier, guardian of the Ubine Chalet, taken from the spring edition of Les Amis de la Nature

To Olivier

Your disappearance turned out to be so brutal and unfair that it hit us like a bolt from the blue with its implacable logic.  Hour after hour and then over the two days required by the rescue services to find your lifeless body at the bottom of the Hauts-Forts in Avoriaz.

The mounting concern turned into an immense sorrow that squeezes at our heart as soon as your face appears to us.  Your life left at the heart of that austere mountain which you loved so much and in which you invested all you force.

Your smile remains as does your long gait, your amazing rhythm, your memory like an elephant and many other memories we guard from having known you.  Everything disappears with time but memories resist.

To such an extent that sometimes, when we are happy and by ourselves in the mountains, in the midst of nature under the rain at the bottom of a fir tree, on a precarious ridge surrounded by fog, or pushing on our poles on an endless glacier we can sometimes feel like there is a presence next to us; the presence of a loved one whom we miss.

Oliver will still be there next to us who have sometimes walked along his side on his childhood and later followed him on the routes to the sky.

Posted by davidof on  Monday, 22 March, 2004  at 12:09 AM
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