Off-Piste snow report for December 13, 2019 for the Northern French alps – Henry’s Avalanche Talk
Lots of snow falling now, but warmer temperatures for the week ahead
Big snow has started falling. This will set us up for the season, but it will bring high avalanche danger too.
It has been a great week for off-piste skiing, with regular top-ups of 10 to 20 cm fresh snow virtually every other day. Weather alternated between flat light conditions and snowfall one day and clear blue skies with fantastic powder the next.
On Tuesday there was a blue-sky powder day and there were a few avalanches triggered by skiers. This is evidence that the greatest risks are wind slab on leeward slopes.
Current situation in the Northern French Alps:
At the time of writing (13th Dec) the avalanche risk is 4/5 (High). Over the week covered in this extended forecast, however, the danger rating will stay high or at least considerable (3/5). A huge amount of snowfall is expected in the N French Alps and surrounding area. Will we get a 5/5? That would be unusual.
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Thinking in going off-piste this season? Then why don’t you attend a HAT course before? This is what I have just done yesterday with my oldest son in Wimbledon Common.
Henry’s Avalanche Talk has been around for 25 years trying to explain those people wanting to venture to the great outdoors how to be safe with practical tips. He and his team explain to you in an easy way of what you need to be aware to be safe.
They have a checklist depending on what you will do:
Search efforts continue for 8 climbers missing in the Indian Himalayas, but hopes are fading after possible avalanche
A search team has spotted five bodies on an unnamed peak in the Indian Himalayas, where the eight climbers were believed to have gone missing a week ago.
Pithoragarh District Magistrate Vijay Kumar Jogdande said on Monday that the bodies seemed to be partially buried in an avalanche on the peak in different locations.
The analysis of some photographs taken by a helicopter that did an air survey of the area earlier today allowed to identify the bodies.
The operation has stopped by Monday afternoon local time for the day, Jogdande said. Now the authorities are figuring out how to recover the bodies.
On Sunday, helicopter teams saw signs of an avalanche on the peak where the group was thought to have been, according to two state officials. Also, on Monday, a helicopter made a recce of the area and the crew saw a backpack at an elevation of 5,000 meters.
Jogdande said that for sure the missing team has been caught by a “huge avalanche” and that the ‘chances of survival are almost zero now.”
The missing climbers — four Britons, two Americans, an Australian and their Indian liaison officer — went missing in the region of Nanda Devi East, one of the highest peaks in India at just over 7,400 meters (24,000 feet.)
According to group’s expedition company Facebook posts, the group was attempting to climb a previously unclimbed and unnamed peak of about 6,477 meters (21,250 feet)
Indian authorities said on Monday that the climbers had no permission to climb an unnamed peak. Jogdande added that if they had known that the eight climbers were planning on climbing the unnamed peak instead of Nanda Devi East, they “would not have given permission.”
He added that heavy rain and high winds in the area have been hampering the search efforts.
An expert skier killed by an avalanche in the Aiguilles rouges and a snowboarder died on the Alpes Maritimes.
A deadly avalanche occurred in the Aiguilles-rouges massif, Haute-Savoie, this Saturday, May 18, 2019. A 33-year-old skier, apparently very experienced, was found dead at 2500 meters altitude.
A skier of high level was killed Saturday, May 18, 2019 in the massif of Aiguilles rouges (Haute-Savoie). It was carried away, it seems, by an avalanche while it came down a corridor “rather steep”, one learned this Sunday near the platoon of gendarmerie of high mountain of Chamonix. He was climbing the North East couloir of Aiguille de Mesure (at 2812 meters) trying to descend the same way when the avalanche occurred. This skier was alone at the time of the avalanche.
The mountain rescue did a preliminary helicopter search and found an ice axe and a ski, before locating the victim, aged 33, partially under the snow 500 meters below at the foot of the needle of Praz-Torrent (2,573 m altitude).
Three climbers have been killed and a fourth injured after being caught in an avalanche on Ben Nevis.
The incident happened in an area of the UK’s highest mountain called No 5 Gully shortly before midday on Tuesday. Members of the Lochaber and Glencoe mountain rescue teams were at the scene.
A coastguard helicopter sent from Inverness to assist was initially grounded in Fort William because the weather was too poor, but by late afternoon, it was able to reach the site as conditions improved, and began airlifting the injured and dead off the mountain.
Two of the climbers died at the scene and their bodies were taken to Fort William. Two other injured climbers were airlifted away; one died on Tuesday evening and the other was taken to Queen Elizabeth hospital in Glasgow.
Two climbers have died and two have been injured in an avalanche that caught several climbers on Ben Nevis, UK highest peak.
The police said that several climbers were on the hill at the moment of the avalanche.
The alarm was raised after the incident, at 11:50. It took place in an area known as Number 5 Gully.
An air ambulance, the Inverness Coastguard helicopter, three road ambulances and a trauma team were sent to the scene.
Lochaber Mountain Rescue Team was supported by members of Glencoe Mountain Rescue Team in the rescue effort on Britain’s highest mountain.
A group of military personnel training in the area also offered assistance to the rescuers.
On Monday, the Scottish Avalanche Information Service assessed the potential avalanche risk in Lochaber, where Ben Nevis is located, as “high”.
Police Scotland said it was co-ordinating the mountain rescue response and supporting those at the scene.
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.
The operation of the Säntis suspension railway (Säntisbahn), from the Schwägalp to the Säntis, will be closed during the next months. The reason for this is the damage to the structure of the first ropeway support, which was affected by an avalanche.
For safety reasons, the operation of the Säntis suspension railway will be suspended until further notice. Neither guests nor employees are transported by the suspension railway. the reason for this is the damage in the lower part of the cable car support. Due to an avalanche decline in the period of Sunday, January 13 and Monday, January 14, the avalanche protection of the prop and the structural construction were affected.
It cannot be said yet how big the damage to the support and the construction is. One must, however, assume that the damage is substantial, and the repair work could take months. In the worst-case scenario, the support will even have to be completely replaced. A project team of experts is currently evaluating the damage and will plan how to proceed with the risk accessed correctly.
The recent avalanche occurred at the time when the rescue and clearing work of the previous avalanche of 10 January was discontinued on Schwägalp and the access of the whole area was locked for all people. The reason for the interruption of this work was the heavy snowfall associated with the increased avalanche danger. Like the renewed event showed, the risk was correctly assessed by the professionals. Between the first avalanche event and the one that damaged the prop there was a snowfall of 1.5 meters of fresh snow. This strong snowfall, in combination with high wind in the peaks may have led to a renewed avalanche.
This new avalanche had less snow mass displaced than the first avalanche event. Accordingly, the snow also did not penetrate to the Schwägalp, but came to standstill before.
Due to this recent event, it is assumed that the suspension railway operation Säntis will stop for months. For the employees of the Säntis, the decision of the suspension railway has no consequences, neither financially nor with respect to their employment.
What this means for the current renovation work of the summit restaurant on the Säntis cannot be assessed at this moment. The economic effects cannot be estimated yet. However, the most important thing is to give guests and employees the highest level of safety and security.
TSV: Two skiers extracted, ‘no additional victims’
From Taos News
Two skiers were critically injured in an avalanche on Thursday (Jan. 17) near Kachina Peak, the highest point at Taos Ski Valley ski resort.
According to a press release from the resort, an “inbounds avalanche” occurred in chute three on Kachina Peak just before noon, burying two men, who have not yet been identified.
Rescuers searching the snow extracted the men just before 1 p.m. and performed CPR on them before rushing them to the base of the resort.
According to a report heard on Taos Central Dispatch before 3 p.m., a medic transporting one of the men in an ambulance to Holy Cross Hospital in Taos said she had “one male trauma patient,” for whom she had established an IV and an intubator, a medical device that helps a person breath when they are unconscious.
Taos County Emergency Services Chief Chris Medina said the other man was also in critical condition and was being flown by helicopter to University of New Mexico Hospital in Albuquerque.
According to a press release from the ski resort, the search for others who might have been buried was called off after 2 p.m., when rescuers determined there to be “no additional victims.”
SLF’s Swiss Long-Term Statistics of Avalanche Victims. The SLF, (Institute for Snow and Avalanche Research) has been collecting data on all the avalanche accidents that happened in Switzerland since the winter 1936/37. This is an overview of their statistics:
Avalanche victims since 1936
The annual average number of fatalities over the entire period is 25 (Fig. 1).
Spatial distribution of fatal accidents during the last twenty years
More than 90% of the fatal avalanche accidents during the last twenty years occurred in uncontrolled terrain, like for example during off-piste skiing and snowboarding or during backcountry touring on ski or snowshoes. As can be seen in Figure 2, a particularly large number of accidents occurred in the cantons of Valais and Grisons.
But what is the reason of this clustering?
Is the clustering of accidents a consequence of a high touring frequency in these regions, or are there other reasons for a higher avalanche accident risk in these regions?
Three German Skiers got killed in an avalanche near the Austrian resort of Lech, the fourth skier is missing. The group was ski touring at the time.
The dead men were from the Upper Swabia area of southwestern Germany. They were found around 11 PM local time after one of their wives alerted that they were missing. They were aged 57, 36 and 32. The fourth missing person, also from southern Germany was 28.
The search for this fourth person has halted due to heavy avalanche risk.
Police in the Vorarlberg province has said they have located the people through mobile phone tracking near the Lanzeg Zug slope – one of the steepest in the world.
As per the Associated Press, weather-related deaths in parts of Europe this month account to at least 24.
Austria has been hit by large snowfalls this past week, and the avalanche warning levels have gone up while local roads have been cut. The warning level above 2,000 meters (6,560 feet) was on Saturday on a scale of 3 of 5. The slope has been closed due to avalanche danger.