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Snow and avalanche 2017/18

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[quote="offpisteskiing"]
davidof wrote:
offpisteskiing wrote:
davidof wrote:
It's #snowmaggedon this morning in the Rhone-Alpes


Hey Simon (and Ste Foy Steve) can't you help Alain Duclos with his translations? I'll do a bit but 6 videos is a lot.


Yes am in touch with him about some other stuff anyway... Its a time thing though - I have a backlog already on the admin front...!


I'd have thought Mark T was the guy really?
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@ise, your reasoning being?
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better french than me Happy and he ran the thing at Tignes last week with Alain
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ps I noticed you were there.
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The pisteurs at the 7 laux were able to get some results from their control work on Saturday.

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ise wrote:
he ran the thing at Tignes last week with Alain
in fairness (and with all due respect to Mark who did a great job getting the day organised) Mark organised the day and booked Alain etc, but it was Alain who delivered the training.
On which note I can highly recommend Alain's training - if anyone on here gets the chance to spend some time with him it is well worth it, I have spent 3 or 4 days now over the last few years with him and he is a mine of information and ideas, as well as some very useful concepts relating to group management in avalanche terrain.


@davidof not surprised to see that! Definitely much care needed currently, though it seems (and as last weekends incidents backed up) that lots of people seem to be in 'open season' mode...
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@davidof, thanks, I don't think I'll be up there on skis any time soon 😯
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Report of a skier triggered slab at le Tour on Saturday, one skier taken, shocked but unhurt but lost a ski. The crown was 70cm deep maximum, with the debris 1.5 meters deep.

https://www.camptocamp.org/xreports/949892/fr/declenchement-plaque-cirque-de-vormaine-le-tour

Note the comment from the skier
Quote:

Lack of awareness: strong wind from the north east, visible snow tranport, signals clearly ignored, bad interpretation, tricked by what appeared to be easy conditioins and a hard snow slab formed during the snowfall during the previous two days.


This is why I've been banging on about the snow transport for the last week or so.
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We know a bit more about the Chartreuse avalanches. The Dent de Crolles incident was almost certainly a small slab that destabilized the skier and took him over cliffs. The route (which I've done dozens of times myself) is extremely exposed and is a no fall zone in the crux.

The Pas du Loup / Petit Som avalanche the skiers were equipped (yet again) with airbags. It seems possible that in the poor visibility they didn't see the slide and were unable to trigger them. Excess of confidence due to equipment and familiarity with the terrain. Navigation error due to the poor visibility which led them onto the avalanche prone slopes? They were climbing on a route known to frequently avalanche under the conditions we saw this week.

In all three cases we are talking about skiers with many years of experience. Jean-Luc Cheynel had been ski touring since 1975, frequently logging 70,000 meters in a season.
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Seems like the Bavarian situation is similar to the French Alps. The avalanche service issued a press release warning of considerable risk above the tree line. Here is a machine translation of their page

https://translate.googleusercontent.com/translate_c?depth=1&hl=en&prev=search&rurl=translate.google.fr&sl=de&sp=nmt4&u=http://www.lawinenwarndienst-bayern.de/lageberichte/&usg=ALkJrhhGFDC6FWsVl1qSSnyg7NJ6zAUWzQ
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Similar in Tirol too, with 20-40 (more in certain spots) cm falling over night and transported by heavy winds - in many places forming slabs on top of surface hoar from the last few cold clear days.

https://lawine.tirol.gv.at/en/home/bulletin/

Snow on south facing slopes was transforming fairly quickly today, and with tomorrow due to be warmer there'll be an increased risk of wet slides and gliding avalanches on grassy slopes.
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Lozere in France, not much snow, and what there is, is airborn

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An avalanche on the extremely steep north face of Baqueira-Beret (Spanish Pyrenees) today, in which a skier was rescued by helicopter after being swept down by a small slab avalanche. He escaped with broken vertibrae and a fractured coccyx.[1] Without further details it's hard to know what really happened, but I would have said that that would be a no-fall zone given the amount of exposed rock at the moment, so it's surprising that he came away so lightly.

Crazy to have been skiing there, IMO. There is avalanche activity everywhere, both induced and natural. Again, it's the snow transport that is the problem rather than the depths; the snow from last weekend didn't bind especially well, and was very powdery thanks to the low temperatures which meant that it is getting blown around very easily.

With more snow due this weekend, it's a cracking start to the season on the northern side of the Pyrenean range, but also a somewhat dangerous one at the moment.

[1] https://www.nevasport.com/noticias/art/52474/Rescatados-dos-esquiadores-fuera-de-pista-en-Baqueira/
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@Pyremaniac, Is that by the Marconi line ?
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Vinyeta, actually; but more or less the same thing. (All way beyond my current pay grade, on both board and skis!) You can get a good idea of the terrain from the fourth of my latest photos on the Pyrenees thread (right-hand side of the photo). It seems that the circumstances are rather controversial, and so I prefer not to comment further on the hearsay that I've come across. Suffice to say: be careful, be respectful, be aware.


Last edited by Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name: on Wed 6-12-17 20:22; edited 1 time in total
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Plenty of glide cracks on front side of Zurs yesterday some partially covered by the fresh snow which could give someone an unpleasant surprise.
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nozawaonsen wrote:
Plenty of glide cracks on front side of Zurs yesterday some partially covered by the fresh snow which could give someone an unpleasant surprise.


Hah yes, I fell into one on the Pte de Marcelly at Pras - de - Lys



it was a bit further along and about 1.5 meters deep.
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Pyremaniac wrote:
Vinyeta, actually; but more or less the same thing. (All way beyond my current pay grade, on both board and skis!) You can get a good idea of the terrain from the fourth of my latest photos on the Pyrenees thread (right-hand side of the photo).


Cheers, I know the area. I've only skied the front side which is now an itinerary but quite fancy the side face at some point when it's in condition. In the past I've seen them doing avy control on there but also seen people there in 'unfavorable' conditions.
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I wanted to see how the snow conditions had changed since last Thursday with the wind and fresh snow. This pit is on a small NW slope at around 2000 meters altitude (45.218879 , 6.035609), so a bit higher, in the Belledonne range again.

There is around 140cm of snow at this spot and interestingly, 2 crusts, which I didn't see last week. There isn't a strong temperature gradient, about 9C over 140cm. However three things

1. hoar crystals on the snow surface, it is anticyclonic at the moment with clear skies so there is a strong surface TG at night which grows these crystals, they are a potential future weak layer.

2. first 5cm of snow is poorly bonded, is this the new snow from last Friday or wind blown? What will happen when new snow lands on top over the weekend? - you could feel a change in the snow consistency with a ski pole as you climbed but it was not like this everywhere, which makes me think this is wind blown snow.

3. the top 50cm of snow is weakly bonded to the crust, there seems to be a layer of looser, sugar snow just above the crust, maybe a local TG forming facets. It is quite a way down at this spot but maybe on a roll over you could trigger a slab? At this point it wasn't too alarming and I was applying quite a big lever for the size of block.

oh and this pit is only representative of the conditions at this spot but still gives a bit of pause for thought.

South faces - almost skiable crust on SE slopes, breakable crust on top of much on S slopes at around midday. To be avoided, the sun is a bit weak to make nice corn snow, it will take a few more cycles. Pretty stable now.


http://youtube.com/v/-VwyiQpLQy4


Last edited by You need to Login to know who's really who. on Thu 7-12-17 19:27; edited 1 time in total
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Interesting stuff @davidof - thanks for posting
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Compression test at Argentiere with a large rutschblock on the 6th, you can see it is not that sensitve, you could probably ski over a slab like that and not know it was there but with the extra load of half a meter of snow this weekend.


"No the situation is not normal, very weak layers on various slopes. The new loads from fresh snow or wind transport will make them very instable. Be extra careful over the coming days"


http://youtube.com/v/gtH-n_1NQKY


Last edited by You'll need to Register first of course. on Fri 8-12-17 21:20; edited 1 time in total
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Head of the Briancon mountain rescue has warned of the avalanche risk in the sector

"Exercise care this weekend wrt to the avalanche risk. We've been out on a rescue today at St Véran, 2 skiers involved, the avalanche was 50x300 meters and 50cm deep, it broken down to ground level. There are not a lot of people ski touring today, and yet still we were called out"

From Meteo France:

"Take the danger of avalanches seriously. There are weak layers of facets on shaded aspects and there is a risk of skier triggered slabs"

The Isère prefecture has appealed to winter sports enthusiasts to take care and be prudent. "We don't recommend off piste skiing without having the correct equipment and without having consulted with professionals"
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Note the warning for the HIGH risk in the pre-Alps, traditional plans when the avalanche risk is high.

Quote:

High risk of accidental avalanche triggering in the northern Alps.

The greatest caution is recommended this weekend in the mountains especially on the northern Alps.
The risk of triggering an slab avalanche is Considerable (risk 3/5), locally High (4/5) above 1500 m above sea level, especially in the Prealps, the Haute-Savoie and Isère massifs. as well as in the North West of the Hautes-Alpes.

These massifs are the most affected by the snowfall and wind, ongoing this Friday and during the night of Friday to Saturday. Overall, the episode results in a fresh snowfall of 20 to 50 cm above 1500 meters and winds in various orientations.
Strong high mountain winds will favor the formation of slabs and accumulations in many slopes. Some of these slabs will look powdery and be difficult to detect.

This snow covers the generalized layers of fragile snow present in all of the sunless orientations (east, north and west slopes), making the snowpack very unstable in these slopes. Avalanches of great magnitude (very wide break and large accumulations) can be triggered at the passage of a single person.

Aggravating factor :
Arrival Sunday during the day of a new very active disturbance giving cumulative very important in the mountains, and accompanied by strong winds and a significant redoux. The risks of spontaneous departure and triggering by skiers will again worsen from the end of Sunday.
-- Meteo France (via Google Translate)

I'm expecting, after last weekends incidents, that the locals will wind their necks in this weekend but the warnings for the pre-Alps are worrying as the heuristic is often "danger in Belledonne, we'll go to the Chartreuse". That said, there is a lot that is quite safe to tour in these conditions.
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Huge avalanche in the Iranian Alps on Thursday.

Nine (9) of 15 climbers killed by the slide.

Seems to have been around 3000m on return from the summit.

Happened on Oshtoran Kooh mountain, in southwest Iran.

http://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory/report-avalanche-iran-kills-climbers-51687145

http://www.tehrantimes.com/news/419157/Nine-Iranian-climbers-killed-by-avalanche

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Ooh impressive mountain.

This in the Haute-Savoie near to Annecy

http://www.ledauphine.com/haute-savoie/2017/12/09/trois-randonneurs-emportes-par-une-avalanche-a-la-sambuy

Light injuries, one fully buried and hospitalized.

and a couple of incidents in Austria on Thursday

http://www.focus.de/panorama/welt/tirol-zwei-deutsche-von-lawinen-in-oesterreich-mitgerissen_id_7950516.html

Quote:
In the case of two avalanches, two winter athletes from Germany were swept along in the Austrian Tyrol. A 19-year-old snowboarder from Brandenburg drove in the Fieberbrunn ski area away from the groomed piste and triggered a snowboard.

The police said on Thursday. The young man was carried away by the snow masses around 50 meters on early Wednesday afternoon. The avalanche partially buried him. A helicopter took him to a hospital with severe vertebral injuries.

In Westendorf, a 56-year-old ski tourer from Munich also triggered an avalanche on his ski downhill on Wednesday and was carried away by about 40 meters. According to police, the skier was able to open his airbag system in his backpack and was only partially spilled. He was flown unharmed by a helicopter into the valley.

Especially in winter, hikers and winter sports enthusiasts are advised to inform themselves about the avalanche danger on site before a tour. An overview of the most important contact points in Germany, Switzerland, Austria, France and Italy is provided by the "German Alpine Club" (DAV) on its website.
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Another avalanche in the Kitzbühel region just south of Niederau, Austria

Quote:
Am 08.12.2017, gegen 13.35 Uhr fuhren ein 24- und ein 33-jähriger deutscher Schitourengeher im Gemeindegebiet von Kelchsau, im Bereich "Kurzer Grund/Wildalmseen", in Richtung "Manzenkaralm" ab. Als die beiden auf einer Seehöhe von ca. 1.750 Metern gerade einen Hang querten, löste sich plötzlich ein Schneebrett und riss den 24-Jährigen ca. 20 Meter mit. Der Mann erlitt dabei eine leichte Kopfverletzung und konnte sich selbständig aus der Teilverschüttung befreien. Der zweite Schifahrer konnte seitlich aus der Lawine ausfahren, wurde nicht mitgerissen und nicht verletzt. In weiterer Folge wurden beide Tourengeher von der Crew des alarmierten Notarzthubschraubers geborgen und ins Tal geflogen.


On Friday 08.12.2017 at 13.35 a 24 and a 33 year old german skitourer were touring in the municipal area of Kelchsau in the area of "Kurzer Grund/Wildalmseen in the direction of "Manzenkaralm". As they both traversed a slope at an altitude of approx. 1750m a slab avalanche occured which took the 24 year old approx 20m down the slope. The man received a slight head injury but could free himself from the avalanche. The second ski tourer was able to ski out of the side of the avalanche and was not taken down with the avalanche or injured. Both were then subsequently picked up by the rescue helipcopter and flown down into the valley.

http://www.regionews.at/newsdetail/Kelchsau_Lawine_riss_Mann_(24)_mit_sich-170062
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Avalanche in Salzburgland the other day:



Google translate:

Quote:
For learning and taking away: Details on the slab release Klingspitz, Wildalmkirchl, 6.12.2017 (Dienten)

Two friends took a ski tour from Dienten to Klingspitz. When descending on the ascent direction (Wildalmkirchl), the first released a slab at the entrance to the first edge of the terrain (by 30 degrees). He was swept along and about 150m (50hms) further down completely spilled. His comrade set off emergency call and began the search for comrades. Two other tourers came to the rescue. It could be excavated within a short time from about 50 - 70 cm depth. He was spilled 15min. The victim was not injured.
Avalanche problem: TRUCKING PROBLEM (EDIT: original says triebschnee, which means wind slab/wind blown snow)

The avalanche is a dry slab. The snowdrift was formed on MO and MO on DI (4./5.12.) With a lot of wind. On average about 40 cm of fresh snow, which was distributed irregularly above the tree line. The break occurs in a pronounced frost layer, which was freshly blown / snowed.

On 6.12.2017 numerous, mostly small, sometimes thin, sometimes thicker snowboards were triggered by people. Partly with low, partly with large additional load in the altitude range 1600 to 2200m. This accident was the only one with spill.

WHAT ANYONE CAN TAKE AND LEARN: (1) Ripe is tricky. If pronounced ripeness is the rupture surface, then the slope is often less than with "classic" drift snowboards. The connection between danger level and slope propagated by the strategies does not work in many cases. (2) comrades can help. Locate and dig up in 15 minutes if the comrade 150 is buried far away is a feat. Include emergency call.

Information and photos: AEG Saalfelden and FEST Salzburg (Bartolot, Wang), Niedermoser (LAWI Sbg)

Details: http://www.lawine.salzburg.at/events/
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@clarky999,

This looks to be the final avalanche report (pls let me know if you find this not to be the case)
http://www.lawine.salzburg.at/ereignisse/index2.php?id=109

Translating the salient points that aren't already mentioned above

Quote:
Der Verschüttete war bewusstlos. Kam nach dem Ausgraben wieder zu Bewusstsein

The burried person was unconcious but after he was dug out he regained consciousness. 

Quote:
Bruch: Triebschnee auf Reifschicht

Break : Windblow snow on a hoarfrost layer

Quote:
Besonders gefährdete Expositionen: N-O-S

The avalanche report for the day said North, East & South faces were especially dangerous.
Exposition of the avalanche was North.

Quote:
Besondes gefährdeter Höhenbereich: > 2000 m

Above 2000m it was especially dangerous

Just to translate the last paragraph so it makes more sense

Quote:
WAS KANN JEDER MITNEHMEN und LERNEN: (1) Reif ist heikel. Ist ausgeprägter Reif die Bruchfläche, dann ist oft die Hangneigung geringer als bei "klassischen" Triebschneebrettern. Der von vielen Strategien propagierte simple Zusammenhang zwischen Gefahrenstufe und Hangneigung funktioniert da in vielen Fällen überhaupt nicht. (2) Kameraden können helfen. In 15 Minuten orten und ausgraben, wenn der Kamerad 150 m weit entfernt begraben liegt, ist eine Leistung. Inklusive Notruf absetzen.


What can everyone learn and take from this :
1. Hoarfrost is tricky. If pronoucned hoarfrost exists then the steepnes of the slope required to trigger an avalanche is often much less steep than by a classic windblown slab avalanche alone (one without the frost layer). The simple strategies and rules of thumb between avalanche warning and slope steepness do not work in many situations (such as this).

2. Comrades can help, but 15 mins to locate and dig out an avalanche victim who is burried 150 meters away along with an emergency call is a feat.


Last edited by So if you're just off somewhere snowy come back and post a snow report of your own and we'll all love you very much on Sun 10-12-17 4:44; edited 2 times in total
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I think the technical term which the avalanche reporter was insinuating towards was that he was f'in lucky to be alive.
After 15 mins the chance of survival drops dramatically (as many suffocate after 15 min).
He was dug out after 15 mins and regained consciousness, if the avalanche had buried him deeper he probably would have been buried again this week (in a graveyard).
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DB wrote:


What can everyone learn and take from this :
1. Hoarfrost is is tricky. If pronoucned hoarfrost exists then the steepnes of the slope required to trigger an avalanche is often much less steep than by a classic windblown slab avalanche alone (one without the frost layer). The simple strategies and rules of thumb between avalanche warning and slope steepness do not work in many situations (such as this).


Good stuff guys.

Do they give the slope steepness where the avalanche broke? It still looks over 30 degrees to me in the photo.
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davidof wrote:
Do they give the slope steepness where the avalanche broke? It still looks over 30 degrees to me in the photo.



Quote:
Steilheit beim Anriss: 30-32 Grad


Steepness at the fracture: 30 - 32 Deg
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DB wrote:
davidof wrote:
Do they give the slope steepness where the avalanche broke? It still looks over 30 degrees to me in the photo.



Quote:
Steilheit beim Anriss: 30-32 Grad


Steepness at the fracture: 30 - 32 Deg


Thanks.
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@davidof,

Although they did the right thing in staying below 2000m and away from the main ridge there was a smaller ridge at 1650m. When they skied over this smaller ridge the avalanche was triggered. I imagine the wind took the snow off the smaller side of the ridge and deposited snow (windblown) from the main ridge and this smaller ridge on the lee side of the smaller ridge. The depth of the hoarfrost layer would most likely have been less on the wind ward side, suspect this is where it fractured.


Just found this -


http://www.lawine.salzburg.at/ereignisse/index3.php?id=459

Quote:
Links im Flachen war der Rastplatz. Unmittlbar nach dem Wegfahren, bei der Einfahrt unter die eingewehte Geländekante - maximale Steilheit 30-32 Grad nach oben hin - erfolgte der Bruch. Anriss 20 bis 60 cm. Die Stöcke markieren die EInfahrtsspur.
Auslösung im Übergang von wenig zu viel. Geringe Zusatzbelastung.


Left in the flat area was the resting place. Straight after setting off by the entrance under the windblown ridge (max steepnes 30-32) was the break. Depth of break 20 to 60 cm. The ski poles mark the skier's entrance path. Triggered in the transition from little to a lot. Low additional load.


Last edited by Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see? on Sun 10-12-17 4:45; edited 1 time in total
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A skier normally triggers layers up to approx 20 cm below themselves unless they fall over and then they can trigger layers from around 80 cm to 120 cm. When 2 skiers ski the same slope at the same time close together then their combined weight triggers deeper than the 20 cm.

I suspect that without the lower ridge the frost layer would probably have been around 40 to 50 cm deep but the lay of the land and the wind distributed the snow so that one side of the ridge (upper wind ward) it was 20cm and the other (lee side) was 60 cm. Over goes the skier and his weight penetrates the thin layer and breaks the slab at the thinest/weakest point, the slab drops onto the non-binding frost layer beneath it and the slide begins.
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http://www.data-avalanche.org/listAvalanche/1512737104590#!prettyPhoto

Le Tour
Chamonix
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jbob wrote:
http://www.data-avalanche.org/listAvalanche/1512737104590#!prettyPhoto

Le Tour
Chamonix


yes, this one: http://snowheads.com/ski-forum/viewtopic.php?t=134246&start=40#3141931
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Oops. That area is very steep and a bit of a death trap after a snowfall. Doesn’t stop Chamonix crew from jumping in.
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Last year the day after I’d done some training with the avalanche academy I was carefully traversing in on maybe 25deg slope and I set off a small slide on the the 40deg above.
Fortunately only my ego caught out.
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jbob wrote:
Oops. That area is very steep and a bit of a death trap after a snowfall. Doesn’t stop Chamonix crew from jumping in.


Don't hesitate to post alternative information and your local knowledge.
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DB wrote:


Left in the flat area was the resting place. Straight after setting off by the entrance under the windblown ridge (max steepnes 30-32) was the break. Depth of break 20 to 60 cm. The ski poles mark the skier's entrance path. Triggered in the transition from little to a lot. Low additional load.


and the avalanche service highlighted a similar slide on the left. The area looks tricky with all those rollovers being potential trigger points, I guess there wasn't enough snow cover to take a different path down.
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