Crans-Montana avalanche claims a life

Crans-Montana avalanche claims a life


One of the people rescued from an avalanche at the Swiss ski resort of Crans-Montana died in the hospital overnight. Three other people were injured by the huge avalanche that struck on Tuesday. Rescuers suspended a coordinated search on Wednesday morning.

The man who died was a 34-year-old French national who worked at a ski resort in France, police said.

Rescuers worked all night above the resort in canton Valais to try to find skiers who might have been trapped in the avalanche. Witnesses had told police that there could be more people under the snow.

On Tuesday, a huge avalanche swept down the mountain at an altitude of 2,500 metres, just below the Plaine-Morte Glacier, and hit the popular Kandahar ski slope at 2.20pm at a spot known as “Passage du Major”.

This video by Swiss public radio, RTS, shows the extent of the avalanche. The police said it measured over 840 metres long and 100 metres wide and spread over the slope for about 400 metres.

This first part of this video has been filmed by one of the skiers on the piste when the avalanche produced. 

Rescue services were immediately on the spot and the search continues. Eight helicopters and more than 240 police and rescue workers are involved in the emergency operation, including army officers who were there to help prepare for two Women’s Alpine Ski World Cup races next weekend.

A report by the Valais-based Le Nouvelliste newspaper quoted the commune’s president Nicolas Feraud as saying 10 to 12 people were believed to be trapped in the snow.

“We heard a loud noise. After, there was a huge avalanche. I have never seen a 1.5-metre-4 metre high avalanche in my life. It was just impressive. We were almost left behind too. It was a close call,” Martial, a 40-year-old skier, told 20Minutes news site.

According to the local avalanche bulletin, the avalanche danger was level 2 (moderate) on a scale of 1-5 on Tuesday. The accident came as warm temperatures over the past week began melting heavy snow and coincided with school holidays in some cantons.

Crans-Montana avalanche claims a life.
Crans-Montana avalanche claims a life.

+ What are the real risks from avalanches?

The cause of the avalanche is unclear and an investigation has been opened. The police said it had either been set off by skiers or by the weather conditions. Avalanches that hit resort ski slopes are rare. According to the Institute for Snow and Avalanche Research (SLF) in Davosexternal link, since 1996 there have been five similar accidents where an avalanche hit a resort slope, resulting in a total of five deaths.

Crans-Montana President Nicolas Féraud told Le Nouvelliste: “We are in shock and we hope for a positive outcome for these people.”

The Valais police has opened an emergency hotline for families urgently seeking information 00 41 848 112 117.

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The-Ski-Guru TRAVEL can organise your bespoke ski trip to the Americas, Alps or Japan, including for those going from Britain to Europe, booking your Eurotunnel trip, and for all trips: lodging, lift tickets, rentals, ski school, and all you need for an excellent vacation. Go to and upload your information – this page will be updated soon with more travel ideas. Check our February offer for Zermatt staying at the Chalet Zen or Penthouse Zen, our amazing Ski Safari in the Dolomites , stay at the San Lorenzo Lodge White Deer in the Val Pusteria of Sudtirol, in the Hotel Petrus in Riscone, for skiing Kronplatz, or check our Easter offer to Obergurgl-Hochgurgl and Sölden to ski with your family. You can ski to have lunch in the Rifugio Sofie in Seceda, Val Gardena, in the Dolomites.

You can start thinking about your trip, by reading the articles on the Planning your Ski Trip tab.  Or how to pack for your family ski trip.  If taking your furry friend abroad to the continent, read about the new Pet Travel Scheme update from DEFRA. Check out our tips for driving to the mountains.  If flying and renting a car in Europe, beware of the extra charges they will pass to you if you want winter tyres, snow chains or ski racks. If driving, check the winter tyres news for Europe and North America.

Or you can read our last news on equipment as seen at the London Ski Show. Also, the new range of skis of Black Crows, one of our favourite brands. Shred-Dog is a definitely favourite brand for parents of growing kids. And check the new Mohawk helmet with augmented reality. You can see my review of the Head Nexo Lyt 100 boots for women.  A new app, Ski Tracker Pro offers you a one month free download if using a promo code.

Crans-Montana avalanche claims a life.
Crans-Montana avalanche claims a life.

We have already covered many news due to this latest spat of snow storms in Europe, as the hotel that was hit by an avalanche of 300 meters of width in Eastern Switzerland. In the same place, a couple days later, a second avalanche affected the structure of the Säntis Suspension Railway. And two ski patrollers got killed setting avalanche control charges in the French resort of Morillon in the Grand Massif. Also two workers died in Jammu in the Gulmarg in India, when they’ve fallen from a cable car during a mock rescue drill.

Lots of snow makes you wonder how the resorts deal with the avalanche danger. Here you can read the interview to Coco Torres, former Head of Operations of Las Leñas, in Argentina, as how they dealt with avalanches at the resort. 

Or perhaps you may choose to read the Ski Resort NewsSki Passes News, and the Must-Read Guides to Lech,  Zermatt,  CourmayeurVal di Fiemme and Crans-Montana. Coming soon will be the guide to St Anton. Or  watch an amazing heli flight over the Mont Blanc Massif. Also see tips on how not to be scammed when booking a ski chalet.

You can also read what’s new at Les Trois Vallées and the last article on what is new at the Tirol ski areas, in Les 2 Alpes,  in Cervinia, in La Plagne, in 3 Zinnen Dolomites ,  in Adelboden, Lenk and Kandertal, in Gstaad, in Chamonix,  in Georgia’s Gudauri Resort and in the Skicircus Saalbach Hinterglemm Leogang Fieberbrunn. And how the US Ski Team has chosen Alpe Cimbra to train for the following four ski seasons as their European home.  Here is the link to our post on the My Voucher Codes ranking of best European Ski Resorts.  

Crested Butte will have a new chairlift to replace Teocalli lift for the 2019/20 ski season. Jay Peak is officially for sale. Another North American resort, Fortress Mountain Ski Resort, is eyeing in opening by 2020.

You can plan where to eat in Aspen Snowmass or which events to attend on-mountain while there.  And Cortina D’Ampezzo is getting ready for this winter and the 2021 World Ski Championships. 

Another classic resort, such as St Moritz has been in the news for its famous Cresta Run be opened again for women after a 89 years ban.

Crans-Montana avalanche claims a life. Photo: Keystone. Anthony Anex.
Crans-Montana avalanche claims a life. Photo: Keystone. Anthony Anex.

Also, you can read how Grandvalira will be staying together as one lift ticket company and how they are adding Ordino Arcalis to  this offer. Grandvalira is opening now all of its six sectors.  And also read how someone tried to sabotage some lifts in Vallnord’s Pal Arinsal. And as if it is starting to be a trend, there were two lifts sabotaged in Passo Rolle, in Val di Fiemme, Trentino. Fortunately they were repaired in record time to open to the public. It seems also that the deadly fire in a Courchevel employee housing building was arson. Uber has launched its service UberSki in some resorts in France, after having done so in the United States.

Also, Mt Hood Meadows was forced to evacuate one lift with 150 skiers and boarders due to a power failure. And the same was the case in a lift with 140 skiers/boarders in Whitefish, Montana. A last one to report was now in Stowe, VT, with more than 150 stuck skiers and boarders that have to wait up to two and a half hours to offload. Cervinia sent a helicopter to rescue 27 in a chairlift. Recently a British skier was killed after suffering a cardiac arrest on a chairlift falling 32 feet to the ground in Méribel resort in Les Trois Vallées. You can see our recent article on how avalanches claimed two lives in Switzerland the past week. And read more what is the real risk of avalanchesThree Germans have been killed by an avalanche near Lech and a fourth is missing. Two were caught in an inbounds avalanche near Kachina Peak in Taos and taken to hospital. 7 were killed as a helicopter and a light aircraft crashed over the Ruitor Glacier near la Thuile in the Italian Alps. Two were killed by an avalanche in St Christoph-en-Oisans in the French Alps.

Or read about the latest investments in Whistler Blackcomb. Or see how Taos is going against the industry trend, and instead of merging with the two biggest oligopolies in skiing at the moment, it goes and buys an airline to get more bums in resort. Or how Jackson Hole is appealing to families and beginners – it is not only a resort for expert skiers anymore. Another great area for families is Stubaital in the Tirol. And a new coming ski area that got funding for its first lift is Skeetawk in Alaska.  Courmayeur is opening this season two new trails, one that is 70% steep – not for the faint-hearted! Or read how a group of experienced industry insiders got together to purchase Tamarack Resort and now they’ve started with their major facelift operations. . And how Peak Resorts finalised the acquisition of the resorts of Snow Time. You can also check how Vermont’s ski passes are the most expensive in New England. And talking about Vermont, you can read on how Killington is planning to change its North Ridge triple chair with a fixed-gripped quad.

Also read how one employee of Aspen Ski Co got caught in an avalanche but got out unscathed while scouting terrain for the Aspen Mountain Powder Tours. Or how the a gondola of the new American Eagle lift from Copper Mountain crashed into the snow in a trial run. The resort confirmed that the chondola will be fixed before it’s opening day. Plus this week, some gondolas got tangled in Hochzillertal. And there was a gas explosion at the Grand Hotel Zermatterhof that injured six, before its opening date.

You can keep up to date on how are the sales for the EPIC and IKON passes are doing here. Read how Emma, the first Digital Mountain Assistant, is launched in Keystone now and will be rolled to eight other resorts this season.  Breckenridge and Keystone are one of the resorts with the longest ski season in the United States. And even read about the new incorporation to the IKON Pass: Valle Nevado. Here is also a post on the South American resorts.  

A group of boarders hiking up for getting a grand descent down the slopes of Crans-Montana.
A group of boarders hiking up for getting a grand descent down the slopes of Crans-Montana.

Or you can see the inspiring story of the “Cholitas” – the indigenous Aymara ladies who are attempting to climb the highest peak of the Americas – the Aconcagua at 6,962 meters/22,840 feet.

Also, Rob Katz and his wife Elana Amsterdam donated 2 million USD in grants to support mental and behavioural health programs in ski towns of North America. And see how Aspen Skiing Company released its sustainability report 2018.   And also check Aspen’s Give a Flakecampaign. The Audi Power of Four Mountaineering Race is coming back to Aspen. And the ’12 hours Head NonStop’ is going back to Sierra Nevada.

And here is a summary of a report by LISTEX on the State of the UK Snowsports Market. The US had it first National Learn to Ski and Snowboard Day with 6,200 lessons given.

And what Switzerland could look by 2060 due to climate change.

Or check out how now with the EPIC Pass you can ski in Europe, specifically in Les Trois Vallées and the resorts of Skirama Dolomiti in Trentino’s Italy. Or see our review of L’Héliopic Hotel Sweet & Spa if thinking in staying in Chamonix this winter. Or check out the new Snowpine Lodge in Alta, Utah opening late January 2019. And for those that thought that skiing in Whistler was only for the rich and famous, now the new Pangea Pod Hotel offers them a chance to stay in the cheap in the new cool hotel in the middle of Whistler Village. Those going this season to Avoriaz and wanting to be by the slopes, can stay in the pop-up Flying Nest hotel.

Featured Image: Crans-Montana avalanche claims a life. Crans Montana Ski Map. 

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