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Snow and avalanche 2017/18

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Further article and photo about the Formigal avalanche: https://as.com/deportes_accion/2018/02/28/snow/1519849185_682572.html?id_externo_noti=asaccion_mod_port

Gentle terrain, wide but not deep; looks very unfortunate.
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Quote:

probably dangerous.......

Almost certainly I'd have thought. WInd unlikely to have been lower higher up?

Quote:

If FL is above 3,500 then you going to get a lot of big purges that @kenr, mentions.n

See what you mean - thanks guys
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Weathercam wrote:
If FL is above 3,500 then you going to get a lot of big purges

Thoughts on FL = Freezing Levels

* of course there are other ways to die in springtime avalanches not much connected with FL.

* in previous years, my experience is that the Freezing levels predicted on the main forecasts for ski stations ("previsions montagne") on the MeteoFrance website have made no rational sense, and contradicted other forecast data on Meteo France - (have not checked them closely yet this year).

I hope that the FL forecasts under the "Bulletins Neiges et Avalanches" on Meteo France are more accurate and useful.

Or perhaps find other better sources?

Ken
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@kenr, hopefully we apply common sense - if any forecast predicts a high isotherm we would not go out - and behind where I live we have a bank of snow in the shade of the building - if that's soft in the morning defo a no go.

Then when climbing up if it's too soft too early then we'll turn back take another route / aspect

Then my thermo outside is obviously the best pointer plus having lived here for five years you get to know what's what, hopefully rolling eyes

Should add that bulk of our spring ski touring (without a guide) is really close to us.
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Oh no Sad. Two High Mountain Guides doing preparations for the Freeride World Tour that takes place from tomorrow onwards in Arcalís, Andorra were caught in an avalanche, and one of them, a 34-year-old Andorran, later died in hospital after being found alive but not breathing under the snow (with airbag - though the report doesn't say whether it was inflated). They were in one of the two zones on the shortlist for holding the competition - in particular, the one which is apparently preferred by almost everyone but which carries a higher risk of avalanche, which is precisely what the organizers were analysing. Naturally, this is an off-piste non-lift-served area.

The organizers have cancelled all complementary activities, and only the competition itself will go ahead.

https://www.nevasport.com/noticias/art/41772/Un-alud-en-Ordino-Arcalis-atrapa-a-dos-esquiadores/ [Spanish]
https://www.diariandorra.ad/noticies/nacional/2018/03/01/una_persona_mor_allau_arcalis_127417_1125.html [Catalan]
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With the fresh snow, storm force SW to W winds and rising temperatures the avalanche risk is HIGH in an arc from the Maritimes Alps above Nice through to the mountain ranges of the Isere department as well as pockets of the Pyrenees. In some areas purges due to rising temperatures and rain are the main risk, elsewhere new slabs fro the fresh snow and winds. A complex situation today.
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davidof wrote:
With the fresh snow, storm force SW to W winds and rising temperatures the avalanche risk is HIGH in an arc from the Maritime Alps above Nice through to the mountain ranges of the Isere department as well as pockets of the Pyrenees. In some areas purges due to rising temperatures and rain are the main risk, elsewhere new slabs fro the fresh snow and winds. A complex situation today.


Four dead and 1 injured, part of a guided ski touring group in near the Col de Cayolle in the Martime Alpes. As above, HIGH risk and poor visibility.

http://pistehors.com/major-avalanche-kills-four-ski-tourers-in-the-maritime-alps-25333525.htm

and at les Deux Alps, a skier rescued but unconscious from avalanche that hit her on the Bellecombe green run. She has been taken to hospital. There is an ongoing search operation. Far too many on piste avalanches this season.
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The head of mountain rescue for the Hautes Alpes based in Briancon had warned backcountry enthusiasts that "the conditions are exceptionally dangerous this weekend - there were avalanches all afternoon today, all slopes and altitudes were affected. We finished the day with a death at la Grave but it could have been even worse - there are soft and hard slabs in place and the risk is both natural and skier triggered slides"

http://pistehors.com/mountain-rescue-warn-skiers-after-avalanche-death-in-la-grave-25333747.htm

The Hautes-Alpes prefecture warned that "the area was still at risk 4 (HIGH) over all ranges in the department. Following heavy snowfall over the last three days the snow-pack is not yet stabilized leading to a high risk of skier triggered avalanches. The snowfall, coupled with a thaw will increase the risk over the coming days. It is imperative that skiers in resort respect warnings and don’t ski closed runs and do not ski off piste. The prefect also advised other mountain users to avoid backcountry travel and if they do go out to be equipped with avalanche beacons etc., to check the snow conditions, the avalanche bulletin. Adapt to the group level and take appropriate gear for the weather. Inform someone of the route and ETA"

-- that is the first time I've seen a specific warning to resort skiers not ski off piste, normally it is only advised.
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davidof wrote:
at les Deux Alps, a skier rescued but unconscious from avalanche that hit her on the Bellecombe green run. She has been taken to hospital. There is an ongoing search operation. Far too many on piste avalanches this season.


That is an inexcusable f*ck-up (assuming that the piste was open). NOBODY should need to be worrying about being on a green piste. Ever. Mad
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Pyremaniac wrote:
davidof wrote:
at les Deux Alps, a skier rescued but unconscious from avalanche that hit her on the Bellecombe green run. She has been taken to hospital. There is an ongoing search operation. Far too many on piste avalanches this season.


That is an inexcusable f*ck-up (assuming that the piste was open). NOBODY should need to be worrying about being on a green piste. Ever. Mad


-1
Nothing should be taken for granted in the mountains.
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Tricky one. We all question why pistes are closed and get a bit antsy about restrictions. There are 10's of thousands of people skiing every day on thousands of pistes. To have an 100% record would be remarkable surely.

Do we know if the LDA avalanche was skier triggered or natural?
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For those of an inquisitive morbid aptitude more here rolling eyes

https://www.dici.fr/actu/2018/03/02/terrible-journee-une-jeune-skieuse-originaire-de-nice-de-25-ans-meurt-une-avalanche-grave-1113526
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Haute Savoie prefecture has joined the Hautes Alpes in advising skiers to stick to open ski slopes over the coming days. Risk 4 above 2200 meters tomorrow morning. They also caution mountain users about complacency on off pistes terrain they know well - one of the heuristic traps.

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There were more fatalities in the Pyrenees yesterday, on the north side of the Bielsa tunnel which connects France to Spain (one of the very few road crossings in the central Pyrenees). The area is often used for day tours. Two Spaniards of a group of five were buried; one died at the scene and the other was seriously injured and taken to hospital where, according to a comment on the linked article, he later died.

https://www.nevasport.com/noticias/art/54949/fallece-un-esquiador-espanol-en-una-avalancha-en-el-pirineo-frances/

It's a high 3 at the moment higher up on many orientations, with plenty of windslab about. There are plenty of places where it's 2 though, so there are options available.
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Lots of snow transport today from S --> N in the Northern French Alps

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Was quite staggering looking at the amount of natural activity out of resort in some of our slack country this morning, plus the pisteurs had been busy bombing and there were numerous controlled slides as they knew that today was going to be rammed with avalanche poodles given the conditions.

Took a great deal of self discipline not to do some routes today, though we found some very sweet lines (see Serre thread for vid).

As we were doing a little hike I took this little pic of a natural slide, can you make out what might have set it off?



Zoomed in

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@Weathercam, where is the dog now?
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@Steilhang, Laughing Laughing Laughing
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Sharon and I skied some of the best off-piste at a medium-size station in southeast Savoie today. Most lines reachable without hiking that we did ski got attacked by others.
No avalanches.
Some debris visible likely from control work previously.
Snow not fluffy powder (because wind-blown), but nice enough for off-piste turns.

Funny thing:
One sector got skied little at first, so we hit the other side first a couple of times. Then noticed that the other side was starting to get skied more, so next run we went over to that little-skied side and saw that there was orange netting blocking the obvious marked access, but the left half of the netting had been trampled down by other skiers -- so we followed them and skied a long run of untracked snow around there. After that Sharon was tired so took a long lunch break. After lunch went back the same way and saw now the orange netting had been fully re-erected with signs clearly saying (in French), Closed - Avalanche Danger.

Funny because now after a hundred lines had been skied in every part of that sector with no problem, one might have thought that the ski patrol would have concluded from abundant relevant evidence that there had _not_ been significant avalanche danger for that sector.

Funny also because wonder how long it took for the ski patrol to _notice_ that their planned Closure was getting abundantly + freely ignored.
. . . (since all this was in plain view of the two major mechanical lifts).

Ken
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Sadly, more deaths today. Three lives lost in Vallorcine and Samoens.

I wonder how many of those who ignore the warnings and the barriers are fully equipped? And sensitive to the danger that others may be subject to in the event of an incident?

A hundred skiers in the morning might well pass safely but later, when the temperature rises a few degrees, it's no longer the same risk...
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kenr wrote:
Funny because now after a hundred lines had been skied in every part of that sector with no problem, one might have thought that the ski patrol would have concluded from abundant relevant evidence that there had _not_ been significant avalanche danger for that sector.

It's a bit less funny when you know that 100 lines doesn't mean terrain is avalanche proof, and 101 line can easily trigger slide. But what the hell, it probably has to be funny to complain, if you still have chance after that, why they didn't close terrain and avi went down taking another few lives.
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kenr wrote:
... saw that there was orange netting blocking the obvious marked access, but the left half of the netting had been trampled down by other skiers -- so we followed them ...

Funny also because wonder how long it took for the ski patrol to _notice_ that their planned Closure was getting abundantly + freely ignored.
They might have been putting that fence back up every 15 minutes. When Darwinists keep trying to remove themselves (and possibly others) from the gene pool there is a limit as to what pisteurs can reasonably do.
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@Skevinski, what happened at Valorcine.
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http://www.ledauphine.com/haute-savoie/2018/03/04/avalanches-deux-randonneurs-ensevelis-a-samoens-chamonix-vallorcine-avoriaz-abondance

How sad. Two incidents, one killed on the Possets and one below Loriaz.
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I have no idea how dangerous this was but going up the varet cc (Les arcs) I saw a couple of snowboarders coming down off and to the right of the itinerant black that triggered a mini slide. Fortunately, it didn't reach the non-piste'd piste but the folks on it below looked worried.
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@kenr, what do the pisteurs know eh? Nobody died so they were wrong, in spite of their training, experience and professionalism. They must be knobs, not the 100 + 1.

I may be a bit slow, and your tongue may be in your cheek?

Me, I'm a lightweight. If the avalanche risk level is 4, and there are explicit warnings that an area is closed due to that avalanche risk, I don't ski there, encourage people to ski there, nor seek to belittle those who try to keep us reasonably safe imploring us not to ski there.

God help us.
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@HammondR, if the level is 4 I don't get out of bed!
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Another report in the Dauphiné, looks like two more deaths:
[url=]http://www.ledauphine.com/savoie/2018/03/04/recherches-en-cours-apres-la-disparition-de-deux-skieurs-a-areches-beaufort[/url]
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Skevinski wrote:

I wonder how many of those who ignore the warnings and the barriers are fully equipped? And sensitive to the danger that others may be subject to in the event of an incident?



All club groups in France and Switzerland (and probably Austria) are equipped with avalanche beacons, shovels, probes. This includes club snowshoe groups.

Almost all ski tourers are equipped the same and frequently with airbags. Few snowshoers are so equipped but they are normally on low angled, low risk terrain.

Around 50% of off piste skiers have beacons (according to research). Most experienced off pistes skiers will have beacons and probably airbags.

Remember that the vast majority of incidents involving serious injuries or fatalities are experienced, local skiers fully equipped with beacons, shovels and often airbags. 7 of the deaths since Friday in France were with qualified high mountain guides.


Last edited by Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name: on Mon 5-03-18 0:08; edited 1 time in total
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Layne wrote:


Do we know if the LDA avalanche was skier triggered or natural?


According to the pisteurs "natural" following fresh snow and then a thaw. It broke in a linear fashion close to the ridge and covered the piste below. A skier on a lift saw the slide and called mountain rescue.

There is a police investigation. The victim has recovered ok.
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davidof wrote:
Remember that the vast majority of incidents involving serious injuries or fatalities are experienced, local skiers fully equipped with beacons, shovels and often airbags.

It is part of plain statistics. I was just looking yesterday for myself... I have almost 40 days this winter out in back country (and more then this on course), so if you take just statistics, it's sort of easy to see people who spend more out there (and are more experienced and properly equiped) have statistically more chances to be involved in accidents, then someone who goes out once or twice a season. And those who go out there once or twice a season, have to be really really unlucky to get into problems in that single outing. So yeah it's quite normal, most of people involved in accidents are experienced guys who our out date pretty much every day.
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The Isere prefecture has strongly advised backcountry enthusiasts not to leave open and secure ski trails over the coming days. The avalanche risk is 3/5 above 1900/2000 meters in the department's mountain ranges. There were a series of incidents over the weekend at that risk level in the department. The prefecture gives the usual advice if you are ski touring or skiing off piste: speak to professionals, leave an itinerary and eta, have alternative routes planned, don't blindly follow other people's tracks, have avalanche safety gear.

More interestingly the state prosecutor for the area has warned that he will not hesitate to prosecute any "group leader" - professional or amateur, if they are thought to have taken unnecessary risks. So if you are leading a group, if only in an informal capacity, you will need to be able to justify your route choice if an accident happens.
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An idea of the burial depth of the Spanish skiers hit by a large avalanche in the Pyrenees on Friday ski touring:



the second skier didn't have a beacon, or the beacon was not working, he was found by Ilheou the avalanche dog who had also been in operation in the Cauterets avalanche a few days earlier that killed 3 off piste skiers. An impressive feat given the burial depth.

I'm not sure if the cause of the slide - which came from a long way above the skiers, was natural or remote triggering. Natural seems probable given the conditions.
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I'm amazed they recovered the body from that depth. Even more amazed that it was located by the dog.

@HammondR, totally agree.
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bar shaker wrote:
I'm amazed they recovered the body from that depth. Even more amazed that it was located by the dog.

@HammondR, totally agree.


On a happier note, Ilheou's colleague Hoock rescued a lost boy a few days ago

https://www.20minutes.fr/faits_divers/2230051-20180301-pyrenees-grace-flair-chien-policier-enfant-10-ans-sauve-montagne-9
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kenr wrote:
Sharon and I skied some of the best off-piste at a medium-size station in southeast Savoie today. Most lines reachable without hiking that we did ski got attacked by others.
No avalanches.
Some debris visible likely from control work previously.
Snow not fluffy powder (because wind-blown), but nice enough for off-piste turns.

Funny thing:
One sector got skied little at first, so we hit the other side first a couple of times. Then noticed that the other side was starting to get skied more, so next run we went over to that little-skied side and saw that there was orange netting blocking the obvious marked access, but the left half of the netting had been trampled down by other skiers -- so we followed them and skied a long run of untracked snow around there. After that Sharon was tired so took a long lunch break. After lunch went back the same way and saw now the orange netting had been fully re-erected with signs clearly saying (in French), Closed - Avalanche Danger.

Funny because now after a hundred lines had been skied in every part of that sector with no problem, one might have thought that the ski patrol would have concluded from abundant relevant evidence that there had _not_ been significant avalanche danger for that sector.

Funny also because wonder how long it took for the ski patrol to _notice_ that their planned Closure was getting abundantly + freely ignored.
. . . (since all this was in plain view of the two major mechanical lifts).

Ken

Is this post intended as a wind-up?
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Let us all hope that the dramatic photo that @davidof has posted serves as a real wake-up call to anyone with doubts about the seriousness of getting avalanched!
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sugarmoma666 wrote:
kenr wrote:
Sharon and I skied some of the best off-piste at a medium-size station in southeast Savoie today. Most lines reachable without hiking that we did ski got attacked by others.
No avalanches.
Some debris visible likely from control work previously.
Snow not fluffy powder (because wind-blown), but nice enough for off-piste turns.

Funny thing:
One sector got skied little at first, so we hit the other side first a couple of times. Then noticed that the other side was starting to get skied more, so next run we went over to that little-skied side and saw that there was orange netting blocking the obvious marked access, but the left half of the netting had been trampled down by other skiers -- so we followed them and skied a long run of untracked snow around there. After that Sharon was tired so took a long lunch break. After lunch went back the same way and saw now the orange netting had been fully re-erected with signs clearly saying (in French), Closed - Avalanche Danger.

Funny because now after a hundred lines had been skied in every part of that sector with no problem, one might have thought that the ski patrol would have concluded from abundant relevant evidence that there had _not_ been significant avalanche danger for that sector.

Funny also because wonder how long it took for the ski patrol to _notice_ that their planned Closure was getting abundantly + freely ignored.
. . . (since all this was in plain view of the two major mechanical lifts).

Ken

Is this post intended as a wind-up?


I think wind up. And unfortunately just not appropriate in this thread which is a serious thread, and where most of posters (excepting of course Weathercam) keep chit chat to minimum
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Good video showing how the fresh snow in some areas is bonding poorly with the layer beneath.

https://www.facebook.com/alizesmontagne/videos/2108580549421438/
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