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Snow and avalanche 2017/18

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Do these people have a death wish.
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More sad news, this time from Ischgl: http://www.tt.com/panorama/unfall/13852795-91/toter-bei-lawinenabgang-in-ischgl-liftspur-im-stubaital-verschüttet.csp

- One 44 year old Czech man killed in an avalanche on a closed piste (not quite sure about the details, but sounds like the slope opposite where they were slid?)
- A 22 year Swiss guy skiing with his brother died, apparently from injuries sustained in a fall while tree skiing

The Paznaunertal road (not sure if this was before/after Ischgl) was also closed at one point today when a 20m section of grassy slope slid, burying the road under 4-5m of snow.

Also an avalanche hit an OPEN drag lift on Stubaier Glacier today. Luckily very few people were on it (must have been horrible up there!!!) and no-one was hurt. Lift involved was the drag by the snow park. Honestly struggling to think where could have released there in a way to threaten the lift!
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Talking snow pack and layers etc last night and a friends son was inquisitive so dug a quick pit on the terrace and there was a very obvious weak layer that did not take a lot of pressure to make it slide.



Then this morning decided to dig a more substantial pit in the garden on a slope of around 20 degrees.

What was quite interesting in that there was not so much of an obvious weak layer compared to 15hrs ago as temps have not dropped below 2 degrees here and snow pack has consolidated more it seems.



Might dig another one up the hill laters
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clarky999 wrote:
"The nine Germans, who were equipped with racing skis and helmets, have become increasingly negligent. They would have moved further and further away from the piste."

Unfortunately that's pretty common thing, at least in Austria. When there's whole bunch of new snow, I prefer to go with lifts, as this way I can get 20 runs instead of just 2 or 3 that I would get if I would be skinning up, and there you see this every single time. Bunch of people on holidays see some fresh snow out and they are all over it. No equipment, no knowledge not respect (and I don't mean respect toward me or other skiers (for that I don't give a poo-poo if they don't respect me Smile), but toward nature and it's powers). Just let's get out and ski it. And everyone forget that as soon as you are 10m out of piste, you are on your own. At least in Austria, noone cares about avi protection outside of piste. Lift companies need to protect piste and lifts, but they have absolutely zero obligation for anything that's even 1m off piste. So as soon as you exit piste, you are basically on same terrain as if you would skin up somewhere 20km into real backcountry. And people don't get this. They consider me as stupid for going into such danger as skinning up some mountain and skiing there (with all the equipment and as much knowledge as I can gather), but they just ski out of piste without any equipment and without checking anything. Skis on, maybe even helmet on and of we go.
Just last week, when it was pretty damn tricky (with level 4 on avi scale down here in Slovenia and south Austria) I went skiing. And it wasn't 9:15am when first people without anything except skis, helmet and poles, were heading way out of piste (like 300-400m across the slope where's no piste) to real steep terrain. I mean skiing there is normally great when it's fresh pow, but terrain is around 40degrees and with level4 I would never touch it. Nothing went down that day, and I probably missed few super fun runs in that terrain, as I stayed on way more mellow stuff (and still had fun in almost 1m of fresh pow), but is it really worth risking everything for few good runs? And even worse, if something goes wrong, they will find you in spring when all that snow will be gone, when you have no equipment with you.
But I guess normal tourists who go out when they see fresh snow, don't really think there's much danger there. After all they came up with lift, so it's basically same as skiing on piste, right? Confused
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primoz wrote:
clarky999 wrote:
"The nine Germans, who were equipped with racing skis and helmets, have become increasingly negligent. They would have moved further and further away from the piste."

Unfortunately that's pretty common thing, at least in Austria. When there's whole bunch of new snow, I prefer to go with lifts, as this way I can get 20 runs instead of just 2 or 3 that I would get if I would be skinning up, and there you see this every single time. Bunch of people on holidays see some fresh snow out and they are all over it. No equipment, no knowledge not respect (and I don't mean respect toward me or other skiers (for that I don't give a poo-poo if they don't respect me Smile), but toward nature and it's powers). Just let's get out and ski it. And everyone forget that as soon as you are 10m out of piste, you are on your own. At least in Austria, noone cares about avi protection outside of piste. Lift companies need to protect piste and lifts, but they have absolutely zero obligation for anything that's even 1m off piste. So as soon as you exit piste, you are basically on same terrain as if you would skin up somewhere 20km into real backcountry. And people don't get this. They consider me as stupid for going into such danger as skinning up some mountain and skiing there (with all the equipment and as much knowledge as I can gather), but they just ski out of piste without any equipment and without checking anything. Skis on, maybe even helmet on and of we go.
Just last week, when it was pretty damn tricky (with level 4 on avi scale down here in Slovenia and south Austria) I went skiing. And it wasn't 9:15am when first people without anything except skis, helmet and poles, were heading way out of piste (like 300-400m across the slope where's no piste) to real steep terrain. I mean skiing there is normally great when it's fresh pow, but terrain is around 40degrees and with level4 I would never touch it. Nothing went down that day, and I probably missed few super fun runs in that terrain, as I stayed on way more mellow stuff (and still had fun in almost 1m of fresh pow), but is it really worth risking everything for few good runs? And even worse, if something goes wrong, they will find you in spring when all that snow will be gone, when you have no equipment with you.
But I guess normal tourists who go out when they see fresh snow, don't really think there's much danger there. After all they came up with lift, so it's basically same as skiing on piste, right? Confused

Sadly all too true.

There appear to be conflicting reports as to whether these skiers were on or off piste. http://www.planetski.eu/news/9917 say "The two victims had been skiing on a piste with another seven others." This is repeated on http://www.xinhuanet.com/english/2018-01/04/c_136871143.htm

However the description of the difficulties accessing the party would suggest they were actually off-piste.
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Weathercam wrote:
Feckin huge impressive avalanche in La Grave from La Meije - could not work out how to upload it as as a separate vid - best to share it it on my FB page - well worth a watch

Hang on this is a better link https://www.facebook.com/ecrin.skier/videos/1700005396920630/


The date on the Joe the Pro vid is 2016?
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Paznautal is notorious for Avalanches after heavy snowfals..

Over the years I have seen houses etc along the entire valley from See to Galtur reduced to matchsticks
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motyl wrote:


There appear to be conflicting reports as to whether these skiers were on or off piste. http://www.planetski.eu/news/9917 say "The two victims had been skiing on a piste with another seven others." This is repeated on http://www.xinhuanet.com/english/2018-01/04/c_136871143.htm


I'm not sure I'd believe all they write on Planetski or their reporter Phil Space.

Very hot today in the Alps, should help purge some snow accumulations. I'm in the garden in my t-shirt in the sun.
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@galpinos, I blame the Tourmente Toofy Grin
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https://www.instagram.com/p/BdjyYOkFptj/ (2nd pic)

Saw this image on Instagram of the crown of a small avalanche next to the river in Livigno. I'd imagine that will be pretty dicey up the mountain.


Last edited by Ski the Net with snowHeads on Fri 5-01-18 20:27; edited 1 time in total
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Huge purging above the piste d fond in Val di Rhemes in Aosta. We gave it a miss. Like davidof says once it starts freezing again it should be rock solid, at least at lower altitudes.
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And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.

A bit higher up.
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This from Chamonix, lots of trees down and a bit of a washout below 2000/2200 meters



and by us, this at 1500m, cross country trails blitzed



Well that's cleared everything out at low to mid altitudes and has left just enough snow to get going again (around here) if it cools down and snows again. Above 2500m there is a lot of snow although interestingly risk is down to 2 over a lot of the French N.A. tomorrow. Locally they say either everything cleared out or the weak layers bridged by monster snow depths with the biggest risk being ice over the weekend with the refreeze.

Almost spring skiing conditions below 2000m on south faces, if you had wide enough planks

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The risk 5 was certainly justified yesterday in the Haute-Maurienne. Ski instructor and peasant Jean Blanc was killed in his car parked in a car park at Bonneval. I believe that's the 7th victim in France this season.
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Avalanche in Åre today. Two skiers partially buried, sounds like a lucky escape https://www.facebook.com/arelavincenter/videos/10155231948971938/

Warning level 3 on the bulletin.
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Hearing two german victims on Großglockner (ÖstTirol)
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Border Roads Organisation officer killed and several missing in Kashmir, after an avalanche hit the (stationary) taxi they were in: http://www.greaterkashmir.com/news/front-page/bro-officer-killed-8-others-missing-after-avalanche-hits-cab-in-kupwara/271250.html

RIP
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Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Some big slabs in Verbier today!
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@davidof, I remember that car park giving me the willys when we were there Sad
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Risk in our region is down to 2 now below 2200 though nigh on impossible to ski off piste below 2,200.

And 3 above so is settling down. Yesterday up the hill you could see quite a few large natural slides/purges out of resort that did make you think as well of those in bounds that had been controlled.

Now sitting here waiting for the next lot to come in.
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Critical avalanche situation forecast by Meteo France for the French / Italian border region Monday and Tuesday

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Repost of a big Zermatt avvy last week captured live on webcam.

https://mobile.twitter.com/geopraevent/status/948937744256000000/video/1
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Nice avalanche in Zermatt.

This was published on the 4 Jan but no idea when it dates from. American border in the French Pyrenees.


http://youtube.com/v/ZAbIPnjVb2c
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Quote:

Above 2500m there is a lot of snow although interestingly risk is down to 2 over a lot of the French N.A. tomorrow. Locally they say either everything cleared out or the weak layers bridged by monster snow depths with the biggest risk being ice over the weekend with the refreeze.


I'd be interested in further comments/info on this. Les Contimines avi risk got to 5 last week and now it is down to 2.
Has the recent weather created a really superb stable snow pack?
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jedster wrote:
Quote:

Above 2500m there is a lot of snow although interestingly risk is down to 2 over a lot of the French N.A. tomorrow. Locally they say either everything cleared out or the weak layers bridged by monster snow depths with the biggest risk being ice over the weekend with the refreeze.


I'd be interested in further comments/info on this. Les Contimines avi risk got to 5 last week and now it is down to 2.
Has the recent weather created a really superb stable snow pack?


At altitude the weak layers are still there but deeply buried so a skier would have some difficulty triggering them. Fresh snow is now bonded with the base.
Below 2200/2500 where it rained (a lot) last week the water has penetrated the snowpack some distance and refrozen so even if there are weak layers below (and from what I saw the water has penetrated very deep) it will be bridged.

During the storm cycle the rain overloaded the snowpack so anything that was going to slide naturally has now done so.

Of course the rain has trashed a lot of the skiing (at least around Grenoble) except on some south facing slopes that get a lot of sun - there are drainage channels like corrugated roofing to ski, holes, bare patches where the slope has slide in its entirety, avalanche debris, trees down in the woods, frozen death cookies etc. Yesterday there was little sun so the snow was either very soggy lower down or very hard at altitude with a risk of falls if you blow a turn.

We need some fresh snow to fill it all in again although we are going to have to put up with some pretty uneven skiing for some time unless there is a big dumpage - perhaps on Friday? Today it is brilliant sunshine and warm.
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Aosta Valley tomorrow. It’s been hammering down all day, and forecast to do the same tomorrow.


http://appweb.regione.vda.it/dbweb/bollnivometeo/bollnivometeo.nsf/vista_i/$first?OpenDocument&L=_e&

Useful English language avalanche info for Aosta.
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Red alert for avalanches in the Savoie tomorrow, a first for the French alps since the alert system was started in 1999.


Last edited by And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports. on Mon 8-01-18 20:04; edited 1 time in total
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Val d'Isere, 1970, UCPA chalet. The road is closed tonight.



avoid any buildings with black flags outside tomorrow, don't loiter.

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davidof wrote:
avoid any buildings with black flags outside tomorrow, don't loiter.

Feeling cheerful tonight Laughing Laughing
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@davidof, what happened with Jean Blanc, where you said he was killed in the car park? Sounds desperately unfortunate.
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andy1234 wrote:
@davidof, what happened with Jean Blanc, where you said he was killed in the car park? Sounds desperately unfortunate.


In fact his car was in the car park but he was in the garden of his chalet above the village. He was trying to clear snow from a plastic tunnel where he had stored gear when he was hit.

Very very unfortunate but it shows that the situation is quite exceptional. The mayor of Bonneval advised tourists not to leave the village that day.
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Layne wrote:
davidof wrote:
avoid any buildings with black flags outside tomorrow, don't loiter.

Feeling cheerful tonight Laughing Laughing


The black flags have been hung out to warn people they are in an avalanche zone.
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Champoluc, geographically just across the border from Val d'Isere, in northwestern Italy, has been evacuating hotels in the village this evening due to avvy risk.
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Layne wrote:
davidof wrote:
avoid any buildings with black flags outside tomorrow, don't loiter.

Feeling cheerful tonight Laughing Laughing


Roof avalanches are a very real danger! Had one land a couple of metres away from me a couple of years back - VERY glad it didn't land on my head or it would be a very different shape...
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@jbob, there were biblical amounts of snow coming down in the Aosta valley all day today...
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The Italians had a bad experience last spring with a hotel so I guess they are taking precautions



Just spoke to someone in Bonneval, which is at the epicenter of current events, he said

"it has been raining all day, just turned to snow in the village, it was much warmer than forecast, the snow will not be good under 2300 meters, heavy powder and at altitude the winds had been blowing like mad from the south-east"

Here is the weather station above Bonneval

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davidof wrote:
Red alert for avalanches in the Savoie tomorrow, a first for the French alps since the alert system was started in 1999.
What is a Code Red warning? How does that relate to Level 5 avy risk?
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Rob - found this as I checked the avi bulletin on MF:

http://vigilance.meteofrance.com/guide/vigilance.html

Seems to be more related to the civil population in general rather than those that spend their life on 2 Planks (or on the dark side), happy to be corrected by Dav if I am off the mark.
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@chocksaway, thanks, seems to be a general weather-related warning system, triggered in this case by extreme amounts of snow. Pisteurs and local authority staff certainly are working hard this winter.
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rob@rar wrote:
davidof wrote:
Red alert for avalanches in the Savoie tomorrow, a first for the French alps since the alert system was started in 1999.
What is a Code Red warning? How does that relate to Level 5 avy risk?


It doesn't, directly. BTW where does "code red" come from, sounds more like the Nazi invasion plans for France! My local pool used to have "code browns" for when someone dumped in the pool, maybe appropriate for tomorrow.

Meteo France issue Yellow, Orange and Red alerts. It is a system that was put in place after the 1999 hurricane which hit France.

Here are the details:

http://vigilance.meteofrance.com/

why have this as well as the avalanche bulletins? It is a simplification of the bulletin for a wider public who are perhaps not familiar with avalanche risks.

To try and answer your question, an orange alert is between risk 3 and 5 inclusive, at the lower end issued to warn skiers and local authorities about the risk of skiing, at the upper end to warn local authorities about a risk to infrastructure.
A yellow alert would be risk 3 in general, issued to highlight to skiers to take care.
a red alert risk 5.
Remember that avalanche bulletins in France are only issued between mid December to mid April whereas these alerts can be give at any time of the year.
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