Guide killed in la Grave avalanche

A German High Mountain guide has been killed by a massive avalanche while skiing in the vallons de la Meije in the Hautes-Alpes department.  The avalanche was around 1,300 meters long and 300 meters wide and occurred at 3,000 meters in the couloir de Chirouze.  The 33 year old victim was named as Philip Jaerschky, a popular figure and full time resident of la Grave, he was married.

The victim had an avalanche transceiver.  He was walking some distance from a group of four friends when the avalanche happened.  The alert was given immediately by mobile phone.  The guide’s body was found at 1,700 meters late in the day by one of three helicopters that were involved in the rescue operation.

An Obituary to Philip Jaerschky
It is a magnificent spring day. The sun shines, flowers are in bloom and birds sing. Then I learn that you are dead. It suddenly seems as if time is standing still, so much so that it makes me believe that we can go backward. But no, we can’t. The dead don’t return.

You got married in France, in la Grave and there found your vocations as a German High Mountain guide. An achievement that really earned you respect. Your invitation card for your wedding was so beautiful that it hung for a long time over my desk. You had built and were already living in your new house. Therese and you, and now she is a widow. A widow after only 3 years.

On the 4th of April your friend and colleague Bernie Schülke died in an avalanche (Snowboarding on the Italian side of Mt Blanc), another German guide in France. Sad and strange enough don’t you think? And now you’ve only outlived him by a week. A macabre question Philip, but how is heaven? Do you have to buy him a beer because you followed him so soon?

As a colleague of yours said, in this season as a mountain guide, it was really your last chance to die. You scarcely had time to go skiing and then on some great powder days you lost a heap of time with photo work. The last trip should be fun. As you tested the slope for those following the windslab carried you over 1000 meters below. The avalanche risk was 4 that day, maybe you had risked too much on this 11th of April 2003? It is easy to say. But who amongst us hasn’t? I would like to meet them.

You were as strong as a bear, an all rounder. A sport climber to 8a and on mixed routes. You were the youngest participant on the German Expedition to Nuptse. At fifteen you climbed the Matterhorn with your dad. As a guide you took clients on routes such as the Walker and Freney. But what impressed us was your relaxed attitude, fun and optimism. We envied your inner peace which some only achieve in advanced years. A day with you was always a good day.

It sounds crazy, Philip, but I wish it was different. I wish it was a miserable, dull, drizzly day in autumn but that you were still alive. Farewell.

Malte Roeper (translation from German by PisteHors) from Klettern Magazine.

Posted by davidof on Friday, 11 April, 2003 at 12:25 PM

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