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.
Dangerous avalanche conditions are expected ahead of Arctic Man
Next week, hundreds of snowmobiles will descend upon the Hoodoo Mountains north of Paxson for the annual Arctic Man event, and avalanche forecasters want them to know that conditions are especially unpredictable this spring.
“The mountains are shedding.” warned Debra McGhan of the Alaska Avalanche Information Center. “It might be stable in the morning, but by afternoon things are letting go.”
It’s a transitional year for Arctic Man, which will not be hosting its classic ski races this year. The unusual race has been held nearly every year since 1986, but interest has slowed. After 33 years, the popular Arctic Man Race of teams of two – a skier and a snowmobile, is ending. The race had the skier in each team, going down the mountain, being towed by the snowmobile uphill again and then skiing back down for a second time.
Due to dangerous conditions, avalanches claimed two lives in Switzerland plus the Weekly Report from the Institute of Snow and Avalanche
News from Swissinfo.ch
Two men, one of 56 years old and one of 31 have died in hospital after being buried in separate avalanches this week. Authorities have placed several areas in high avalanche risk after adverse weather conditions of late.
A skier was trapped by a slab of falling snow in the popular Flumserberg ski area in eastern Switzerland on Thursday 3rd January afternoon. A companion alerted the authorities, sparking a search by police, the fire brigade, alpine rescuers aided by dogs and helicopters.
The man was found and transported to hospital. But it was announced on Friday that he never recovered from his injuries.
On a second episode, also on Thursday 3rd, a snowboarded was carried away by an avalanche in Davos, in the Graübunden canton in southeast Switzerland. He was dug out by his companions but died from his injuries on Friday.
A second avalanche in the same region on Thursday left another snowboarder with a broken thigh.
Both regions sit in an area stretching from central to southeast Switzerland that is rated as being at the greatest danger of avalanches.
Storms that brought heavy snow and rainfall just before Christmas led the Institute for Snow and Avalanche Research to raise avalanche warnings significantly over large swathes of Switzerland.