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Snow and avalanche 2017/18

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
The search for the missing Beaufortain skiers has been suspended. They'll continue checking the zone but it is basically wait for a thaw now. The skiers are from Caen in Normandy. A British skier is missing in la Plagne and two French ski tourers are missing in the Hautes-Pyrenees in separate incidents.
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
I thought the British guy was missing in Tignes since mid Jan. Heaven forbid there are two incidents!
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 Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Rogerdodger wrote:
I thought the British guy was missing in Tignes since mid Jan. Heaven forbid there are two incidents!


Yes Tignes, you are correct.
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http://www.ledauphine.com/savoie/2018/03/07/tignes-un-snowboarder-se-filme-dans-l-avalanche-qu-il-a-declenchee

Good job this guy had an airbag. He ends up on Double M, so it may be the P7 couloir (definitely a Gazex in that one) or a couloir higher up than the Telegraph Entrance - I can't tell.
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
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Fun skiing today way off-piste on 15-20 cm of soft (perhaps heavy) snow on southerly aspects around 2000m / 2500m in southeast Savoie. Lots at steepness 30 and 35 degrees, one fun shot maybe 40 degrees lower elevation.

Avalanche activity RAS . . .
Nothing resembling an avalanche or incipient sluff either close around me or within my distant-viewing horizon.
I often could feel the harder underlying layer on which the fresh snow had fallen over the last couple of days. The older layer was well-transformed lower, a bit breakable at higher elevations -- but since I was way out making first tracks, whatever my skis could dig down to was _consistent_, so I could just bust through easily with my heavier skis and beefier boots that I use for my touring.

My skis carving through the fresh snow at no time caused it to sluff or slip on the underlying surface -- seems like it was fairly well bonded.

On the other hand, not much sign of settlement or consolidation around where I was skiing -- which doesn't help for future days.

Wind fairly strong and steady, seemed roughly from the West -- definitely transporting snow, so my tracks from an hour before were getting partly covered.

Next looks like some periods of sunshine and warming over the next couple of days, so the evening puzzle of where and how to ski tomorrow for both fun and safety will not relent.

Ken
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chocksaway wrote:
http://www.ledauphine.com/savoie/2018/03/07/tignes-un-snowboarder-se-filme-dans-l-avalanche-qu-il-a-declenchee

Good job this guy had an airbag. He ends up on Double M, so it may be the P7 couloir (definitely a Gazex in that one) or a couloir higher up than the Telegraph Entrance - I can't tell.


Lucky lad indeed!
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 Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
@kenr, I also had a lot of fun in 15-20cm snow in Savoie today, but I disagree with most of the rest of your post. While we were skiing the resort pisteurs were blasting extensively, and there was also plenty of evidence of natural avalanche activity, There was, as you say, a firm base under the new snow, but there was lots of un-transformed, "goblet" snow in the new layer, which is inherently unstable. There was also evidence of wind slab near the ridges,

Your posts are compatible with one of the following three, other readers can make up their own minds which they believe:

1. You genuinely believe what you say, but are mistaken in your assessments and opinions, and may be encouraging skiers with less knowledge to careless in their approach to off piste.
2. You know exactly what you are doing, and are providing misinformation, but if so, this is a dangerous game.
3. You are a troll.
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 After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
@kenr, You might also want to read the google translate version of the avalanche bulletin, posted today at 16.00 local time:


Snowy coat locally tricky.

PROBLEM N ° 1: fragile plates in recent snow, NW, N and E expo. Most friable and sensitive (10/15 cm), punctually thicker in compact snow (20/30 cm crack near the crests). Aggravating factors: transport by wind of forced SW and fragile sub-layer formed in late February, not easy to detect.

PROBLEM N ° 2: temporary instability to warming by the sun. In adrets, especially towards 1600/2200 m. Departure in castings or spontaneous plates (steep slopes). But also under the skis by cutting a slope, especially at the right moment towards the middle of the day.

Be careful also to recent cornices.
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Skevinski and I were skiing mostly side-piste today at Montgenevre, taking every precaution as there was obviously a fair bit of avalanche activity, both natural and controlled.
Despite all the pisteurs efforts, this occurred around 4pm, after we had left:

http://alpesdusud.alpes1.com/news/hautes-alpes/66923/hautes-alpes-une-avalanche-traverse-une-piste-verte-a-montgenevre
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I've realised that I pasted the avalanche bulletin for Chablais, where I was skiing, rather than for SE Savoie, where @kenr was skiing, but the bulletins are not all that different. To avoid any possible ambiguity, I've pasted the google translate bulletin for Haute Maurienne, which is in SE Savoie, together with the original French version:


"The turbulent period since Monday (snow, wind and cold then mildness) maintains a certain superficial instability that will not get better with the expected snow, probably accompanied by a northwesterly wind at altitude.

Natural departures: flows and sometimes some avalanches (recent snow more or less humid under 2200 m, sometimes small plates higher) can still occur during bad weather and then in favor of the sun. We can not totally exclude an avalanche, more voluminous, bottom plate type (rising temperatures, cracked areas).
Accidental triggering: the presence of some plates, especially above 2400 m, and the possible formation of new, often not very thick (less than 30 cm) favor a risk of departure in the passage, even of a single skier, especially in steep slopes and near ridges, like along Italy. Some under-layers little evolved or more or less angular weaken still the first centimeters of the snowpack, particularly in North-West exposure to North to East."

[La période agitée depuis lundi (neige, vent et froid puis douceur) maintient une certaine instabilité superficielle qui ne va pas s'arranger avec la neige attendue, probablement accompagnée d'un vent de Nord-ouest en altitude.

Départs naturels : des coulées et parfois quelques avalanches (neige récente plus ou moins humide sous 2200 m, parfois de petites plaques plus haut) peuvent encore se produire durant le mauvais temps puis à la faveur du soleil. On ne peut pas totalement exclure une avalanche, plus volumineuse, de type plaque de fond (remontée des températures, zones fissurées).
Déclenchements accidentels : la présence de quelques plaques, surtout au-dessus de 2400 m, et la possible formation de nouvelles, souvent peu épaisses (moins de 30 cm) favorisent un risque de départ au passage, même d'un seul skieur, surtout en pentes raides et près des crêtes, comme le long de l'Italie. Quelques sous-couches peu évoluées ou plus ou moins anguleuses fragilisent encore les premiers centimètres du manteau neigeux, particulièrement en exposition Nord-ouest à Nord à Est.]
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And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
@kenr, Any GPS tracks?
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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
@kenr, as many people on snowheads know I ski off piste almost every day of the season and to be honest I find your post rather a waist of time. Unless you say exactly where you are I do not see how they can be of help to anyone and my advice to anyone reading them is to be very careful in following anything you say. If you are a serious poster then you should understand that whilst one face might be unstable. Another face with a different aspect could be reasonably safe. I also believe you can never say never when talking about risk and so should be cautious at all times. Please in future can you post the details of exactly where you are referring to if your intention is to provide information that could be of help to those of us that enjoy off piste skiing. Thank you.
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
Yesterday morning the PGHM, along with a search dog, checked out an avalanche in the Balme Couloir (Vallons sector) after a slide was reported, luckily no-one was involved in this natural slide, it's going off everywhere guys.........
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 Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
@snowcrazy, based on his assessments in his posts, it's pretty much useless even if he would post exact locations. The way he's assessing if something is safe or not, all depends just on pure luck and not knowledge or real conditions. So anyone taking his posts as proof that whatever terrain is safe, is same as just heading into that terrain regardless of anything. If you are lucky you will have great day, if not, then you might end up under avalanche. The way he's playing, chances are 50/50.
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 Poster: A snowHead
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@primoz, if he really is telling us to go into areas that are closed because of avi danger then I think his chances are worse than that. OTOH, what do those avi control fellas know? I mean really, they are just there to spoil our fun.
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
I hope the people may find the following links useful / informative (I appreciate it's not following the current "thread"):


https://www.facebook.com/Base-Avalanche-748156128617190/

The current statistics (for France) for the season 2017-2018 in terms of avalanche incidents: http://www.anena.org/10529-bilan-des-accidents-d-avalanche-2017-2018.htm
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 Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
@marksavoie, thanks for that. On the Facebook site you link to, there are photos of IGN maps with slope steepness classes shown with colour overlay (eg yellow, orange, red shading etc for 30,35,40 degree slopes). I find this really useful and can access Austrian and Swiss maps with such overlays but have no idea where to find the French equivalent - do you know?
Cheerio
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Inboard wrote:
@marksavoie, thanks for that. On the Facebook site you link to, there are photos of IGN maps with slope steepness classes shown with colour overlay (eg yellow, orange, red shading etc for 30,35,40 degree slopes). I find this really useful and can access Austrian and Swiss maps with such overlays but have no idea where to find the French equivalent - do you know?
Cheerio


Hi, you can find this on www.skitrack.fr ( as an option to check) . There's also a French app' called iPhiGeNie (similar to ViewRanger but IMHO not as good an interface) that has an option to overlay in the same way.
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Inboard wrote:
@marksavoie, thanks for that. On the Facebook site you link to, there are photos of IGN maps with slope steepness classes shown with colour overlay (eg yellow, orange, red shading etc for 30,35,40 degree slopes). I find this really useful and can access Austrian and Swiss maps with such overlays but have no idea where to find the French equivalent - do you know?

https://www.outdooractive.com works just fine... for Austria and Switzerland, as well as pretty much every other country Smile
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@marksavoie, @primoz, thanks for these.

Any suggestions for Italy, too?

I use Bergfex Touren app for A, gives access to BEV ÖK50 mapping plus steepness overlay and some routes. For CH, the SwissTopo app is great as it has the routes numbered according to SAC guidebooks, as well as the steepness overlay.

Bergfex does have slightly lower resolution steepness data for lots of other countries but only overlaid on openstreetmap which I prefer not to navigate off.
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https://henrysavalanchetalk.com/off-piste-snow-report-weather-8-14-march-savoie-n-french-alps/



Feels like a change in the air, spring!

I was skiing at Pila today and my avalanche buzzer was going, lots of spontaneous slides on steeper ground, and a warmth in the air.
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 After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
Meteo France have issued an avalanche warning for the Haute-Savoie for Friday 9/03 and warned skiers of continued risk across the alps. (From Google Translate)

Quote:

Press Release Avalanches of Météo-France

issued THURSDAY 8 MARCH 2018 AT 16:38

High risk of avalanche this Friday in Haute-Savoie

The risk of triggering an avalanche at the passage of skiers will be high this Friday, especially above 2000m and especially in Haute-Savoie. It also remains very present on all the Alps in altitude.

The persistence of rather wintery conditions in recent days with successive snowfalls, often cold and windy, have helped to maintain the instability of the snowpack noted last weekend by many avalanche triggering.

A report also a very clear change in conditions for the weekend, the softening that begins Friday will amplify Saturday with rain. The humidification of the snowpack will cause many spontaneous avalanches of wet snow avalanches, locally large given the significant snow this winter.

Hikers and off-piste skiers, find out about the weather conditions and the risks of avalanches in the mountains. Check the forecasts on the Météo-France website (wwww.meteofrance.com), as well as on the MétéoFrance and MétéoSki mobile apps.


A skier was killed by an avalanche on the Swiss side of the PdS today and a big search operation in the Chartreuse today at the same spot that killed two ski tourers earlier in the season. Lots of ski tourers in the sector today despite the reputation of the col when there are high winds. No one was found. Skier injured in the Aravis and another in the Couloir Bellin on the Brevent.
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snowcrazy wrote:
@kenrI do not see how your posts can be of help to anyone and my advice to anyone reading them is to be very careful in following anything you say.

Good warning. I agree completely. I am not any sort of expert on avalanche hazard. I feel like I just try to do my best to keep myself safe and find some fun ungroomed skiing. I would not presume to advise anyone else -- so for sure no one be "following" anything I say here.

snowcrazy wrote:
If you are a serious poster . . .

I am not a serious poster.
I just tell stories and hope the experts will educate me. Looks like you're moving forward on that process.

Ken


Last edited by You'll get to see more forums and be part of the best ski club on the net. on Thu 8-03-18 22:42; edited 1 time in total
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Steilhang wrote:
if kenr really is telling us to go into areas that are closed because of avi danger . . .

I have never knowingly entered any area closed for avalanche danger (or for any other reason).
If anyone might have thought that I might be advocating that, then I'm sorry.

Though why anyone would follow anything they thought I was "telling" them about avalanches or about rules and management of ski stations in France, I have no idea.

I'd be glad to get educated more about the customs of piste and/or sector closure in ski stations in France.

I sort of think I've never even unknowingly entered a sector closed for avalanche hazard.
. . . (In other regions where I've skied, that's a serious prosecutable offence, and the ski patrol normally chases down any violator quickly, and issues a summons for court appearance and fine, after they've confiscated the violator's ski pass).

Ken
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@kenr, serious question...where are you from?
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Fee fi fo fum... I smell a WUM....
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 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
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
kenr wrote:
I have never knowingly entered any area closed for avalanche danger (or for any other reason).

Considering quote bellow there's some alien hacked your account here and is posting in your name Wink

kenr wrote:
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.
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
A most unusual warning .... I can't remember one like this ever being made here

https://www.independent.ie/irish-news/news/public-warned-to-expect-series-of-avalanches-in-wicklow-mountains-36686143.html
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 Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
The PDS avalanche was in the Jorette sector. He was ski touring when he triggered an avalanche at 1500 meters altitude. Found using his avalanche beacon he was buried under 50cm of snow. He died later in hospital. SLF lists 13 (+1) ski tourer fatalities and 3 off piste fatalities for this year. Similar ratios for France.

You can see the "small" size of this avalanche in this photo



and a higher resolution photo here. Skiers tracks probably at the top, ratrac tracks used by the rescue services at the bottom. Note convex slope, probably wind loaded with fresh snow (judging by the ripples on the surface), triggered where the snowpack was thinner towards the rollover. The skier should have traversed lower to the ridge then climbed from there. I guess he traversed across to the face and found himself high and didn't want to descend to a safer slope.



This is the type of avalanche that would be survivable with an airbag, maybe if he'd been with a friend who could have rescued him sooner than the piste services, although better route choice could have avoided the slide altogether.

Note these are just my suppositions but the slide seems to have quite a lot of lessons. The big takeout I see is don't hesitate to descend to safer ground if you have the choice even if it costs some time and effort.

Update: here is the avalanche bulletin issued on the morning of the incident:

https://www.slf.ch/fileadmin/user_upload/import/lwdarchiv/public/2018/nb/en/pdf/201803080800_gk_c_en_complete.pdf

risk 3 on all sectors although mainly over 2200 meters.

Quote:
Danger description
As a consequence of fresh snow and wind further snow
drift accumulations have formed. At elevated altitudes
the prevalence and size of the avalanche prone locations
will increase. The older snow drift accumulations
remain prone to triggering. These avalanche prone
locations are covered with fresh snow and therefore
barely recognisable. Single winter sport participants can
release avalanches. Backcountry touring and other offpiste
activities call for experience in the assessment of
avalanche danger and careful route selection.


Around 30cm of fresh snow in the 1000/1500 meter altitude range.


Last edited by Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name: on Fri 9-03-18 12:02; edited 2 times in total
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@davidof, interesting pics and analysis. Got to say it looks fairly tame territory in some ways. Maybe the pictures (scales, angles) don't do it justice. On top of which it's hard to get a feel for the conditions on the ground (temps, snowfall, wind) etc. from my office chair. Like you say... a few if's and maybe's to consider. All a bit humbling.
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please could someone tell me what RAS means in French avalanche bulletins?
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Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
cavegirl99 wrote:
please could someone tell me what RAS means in French avalanche bulletins?


rien à signaler (nothing to report)
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Thanks very much, I'd guessed it must be rien a something, but couldn't guess what the S might be.
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@davidof, the concave convex thing is interesting.
I always understood that you should avoid convex slopes in favour of concave ones.
Speaking to Stewart McDonald of the Avalanche Academy in Chamonix he was of the opinion that all that mattered was the actual angle.
Bruce Temper in his book has a, good news-bad news view of things. While convex slopes will be in some tension, and may be steeper, the depth of the slab is likely to be thinner and avalanche on that shape slope is more survivable. In contrast the concave slope will be compressed at the bottom so less likely to slide, but tends to have a thicker slab (which in its self can be good or bad news) but if it does slide then the victim may be more likely to be buried deeply.

In your second photo the tourer seems to have cut the convex slope at its steepest point, and the slide is caught in a concave bowl at the bottom creating a mini terrain trap. As you point out a significant lesson is being willing to vary your route even losing precious height if necessary.
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@davidof, as you point out, the small size of the avalanche is noteworthy. A very pertinent reminder of the dangers of touring alone. Knowing what a dope I am, it would have been easy to get into that situation.

Having equipped and alert friends along could have made such a difference.

Made me re evaluate touring alone.
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@cavegirl99, as @davidof says: 'nothing to report', although I have never seen it used in actual avalanche bulletins - it is a commonly used abbreviation on social media (particularly trip reports on skitour.fr and similar...).

@jbob, yes the whole concave/convex vs simple slope steepness is an interesting one. Obviously in this case the tourer was ascending, but there is a stong argument for descending skiers that a convex slope lures skiers into descending to 'have a look' and draws them onto 30º+ terrain...
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 After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
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Not too sure if this has been posted elsewhere or how old it is but has to be one of the most intriguing clips of a series of avalanches that a skier, who is totally unaware, has set off.

Really does demonstrate what can happen!

https://www.facebook.com/groups/101999475272/permalink/10160085246230273/

Presume this thread will now be moved back to the Off Piste section rather than reside in Apres Toofy Grin
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@Weathercam, see, it is still here.
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@Hells Bells, errrrhhh it was originally in the off piste section Laughing

But maybe better to leave it here, though people might not realise it's been moved
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