Fresh Snow Brings Extreme Avalanche Risk to Pyrenees

The recent fresh snow, which has particuarly affected the southern part of France has brought extreme avalanche risk to the eastern part of the Pyrenees and high risk in the Isère department, large parts of the Pyrénées and Southern Alps. These risks mean that natural and human triggered avalanches are certain to likely.

Travellers in the Pyrénées, Cervennes and eastern Massif Central should check that transport links are open as at these risks road and rail may be closed on safety grounds. The snowpack is unstable on northern slopes and a freeze/thaw crust on southern slopes makes a good sliding surface for fresh snow. Avalanches are likely to be triggered by the passage of a single skier, snowboarder or snowshoer. Careful route planning is essential and backcountry travel should be restricted to ridges and low angled slopes.

16 people have already died in avalanches in France this season, many in similar conditions. Skiers and snowboarders should also take care off piste in areas subject to potholes such as Flaine. There was an accident where a skier fell through a snowbridge into a pothole close to the ski resort of Lans en Vercors this week.

Further information:
French Avalanche Statistics
Current French Snow Conditions
Avalanche Bulletin

Posted by davidof on Saturday, 28 January, 2006 at 09:16 AM

Having just returned from Andorra after 2 weeks I can confirm that more than 1/2 a metre of fresh snow in tempreatures of -10 C has fallen on slopes that had been glazed by rain last week, a risk of 4 is conservative!!

Posted by  on  Tuesday, 31 January, 2006  at 12:59 PM

There was 1 meter of wet snow over the weekend in Ariège. On Saturday evening the Puymorens tunnel was closed due to avalanche risk. The highway departments of the Ariège, Pyrénées-Orientales and Andorra worked non-stop to keep the Pas-de-la-Case road open. At 10h00 on Sunday the Puymorens tunnel was opened but an avalanche hit a vehicle from the highways department at 10h30. The slide was over 1 meter deep. With a rise in temperature of 15C making the snow very unstable the decision was taken to close access to Andorra and to the tunnel. The Paris train was stopped for 4 hours at l’Hospitalet blocking the level crossing at the exit from the village.

The avalanche risk remains at 4 (high) for much of the eastern Pyrenees and Hautes-Pyrenees for Wednesday.

Posted by davidof on  Wednesday, 01 February, 2006  at 01:28 AM
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