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Season claims one of its last victims

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Deadly Slide at La Grave (PisteHors)
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Very sad, and I hope he didn't suffer, but at least he died doing what he loved (skiing couloirs at 67 suggests he was rather keen).
Better than going ga-ga in some ghastly old peoples home.
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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?
Sadly, of course, La Grave claims several victims every year. However as Jonpim said he died doing what he enjoyed, lets hope we can all go this way.

Today I met a 75 year old man who is training slalom all week with one of our local race trainers. He skis really well - mega impressive Shock
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I've noticed that the Guides at La Grave are much more cautious now than they were a few years ago. Presumably every new death will reinforce that.
Unfortunately it means that they are much less willing to take groups down any coulouirs (which were the best thing about the resort as far as I was concerned). Has anyone else noticed this?
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
They are indeed a bit more cautious. We were there last year and the guides decided against one of the Trifides couloirs because of ice. We saw at least one skier tumble down it from Vallons(?) and aslo a heli rescue at the base of the couloir. We did ski Freaux couloir in knee deep know at the beginning of the week- lovely, by midweek it was hardpack and the guides were concerned but we did it anyway-not so nice. We had a faller- somersaults and stuff- but the guide somehow checked his fall, fortunately he was ok.
A guide is pretty essential here. Not sure if most of the fatalities there are unguided punters. Maybe Davidof of Pistehors can get some stats.
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You'll need to Register first of course.
Observations in recent years indicate that in La Grave more fatalities occur among people skiing with ESF instructors than any other group. Considering that people who ski with instructors form a tiny minority this speaks volumes about the professionalism, mountain know-how and attitiude of some French instructors.

snowball and Kit Wong, there are still plenty of guides who will guide steep terrain in la Grave. The guides at www.skierslodge.com are known for this. Also check out Doug Coombs's steep campls, run through them.
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 Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
Quote:
Observations in recent years indicate that in La Grave more fatalities occur among people skiing with ESF instructors than any other group

kurt von liebewitz, I think you should qualify that 'observation' with some specific details, statistics, sources of information! Assertions of this kind should be backed up with hard evidence, or not made at all, I reckon.
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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!
PG, if I had actual statistics I would have given them. I can only give statistics for last winter when this was definitely the case.

Last winter 3 people (as far as I am aware and remember) died in La Grave actually skiing from the lift (others died in the La Grave - Villar d'Arene canton but touring independently). One was a UIAGM guide (and friend of mine) who was ski-cutting a slope and was killed by the resultant avalanche.

The other two died as a result of their instructor taking them down Triffide 1 (against the advice of local guides) when it was icy. The instructor failed to manage his group safely, then he fell, knocking one client down the couloir who hit another client. The one at the bottom was decpitated; the other went into a coma from which he never recovered.

Whilst that shows a majority of deaths from a tiny minority of lift users that skied with an instructor for one season I don't think one can base a general opinon on just that. My statement was based on that and what other people had told me about accidents in La Grave in previous years. I believe these people are reliable enough that I am prepared to post information from them here.

Personally I have very little respect for ESF instructors as a group. Whilst I am sure the majority are responsible and safe I have regularly seen terrible cases of idiocy and irresponsability by ESF instructors in La Grave. Basically, behaviuor that is unprofessional in the extreme. In fact, I have rarely seen ESF instructors behave in a way that I can't criticise in a significant way.

Some general observations: Firstly the ESF instructors are not permitted to instruct/guide on glaciated off-piste. That rules out them taking clients down the Girose glacier and the top of the Vallons de la Meije (the section thatleads to the Triffide Couloirs) - which they do regularly. Moreover, I have frequently seen ESF instructors taking clients through heavily crevassed terrain, always without any glacier safety equipment at all. Secondly, I have never seen a group with an ESF instructor that were carrying the safety equipment recommended by the lift company - shovel, probe and transceiver for each person (you can tell they haven't got that it they aren't wearing backpacks). This represents a significant irresponsibility part IMO. Indeed, it is rare to see an ESF instructor in La Grave even wearing a backpack themself.

In addition to these points some of the things I have seen ESF instructors do with their clients in La Grave:
- picnic under seracs on a warm afternoon (seriously!)
- all stand together on a wind-loaded slope then
- all ski the slope together

If I sit and think about it I will probably remember lots of other instances... I don't have something against ESF instructors in general but, on the basis of what I have seen in La Grave, I could not recommend them to anyone who wanted to ski off piste, especially in a big mountain environment.
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You'll get to see more forums and be part of the best ski club on the net.
Very interesting. I hardly registered that the ESF operated in La Grave!

The first time I went there with the Ski Club (obviously with guides) we did 8 different couloirs in one day. Last year we did one in a week and this year we did 3 due to my persistent nagging (only one, up to the last day). It wasn't new snow but it was nice grippy snow.
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 Ski the Net with snowHeads
Ski the Net with snowHeads
snowball, when I was in La Grave (2003) all the instructors on the telepheriques were visitors. There were definitely none based in La Grave although I have a vague feeling the bureau des guides could organise instructors if they were required (do they act as agents for the ESF?). Maybe things have changed. I guess Easiski knows what she's talking about when it comes to those instructing matters Smile
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 snowHeads are a friendly bunch.
snowHeads are a friendly bunch.
kurt von liebewitz, Thanks for the vote of confidence. The ESF office at La Grave is in that little hut by the car park that they call the Tourist Office! It's only been seen recently.

I do take people to La Grave myself, but only down the Vallons de la Meije as a half day trip usually. If they want to do the couloirs I tell them to use the Bureau des Guides either here or there.

I too have seen some incredibly stupid behaviour over there, but mostly not by ESF instructors (I don't know why I'm sticking up for them). The majority of idiots appear to be ski-ing without guides. It's always worse, however in the week before the Derby de la Meije. Evil or Very Mad
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 And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
kurt von liebewitz, it would be interesting to translate your views and ask the ESF for their comments. Would you agree to this?
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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
PG, go for it! I stand by what I said but I wouldn't expect them to agree. Would you?

edit: My guess is that you would get further if you try discussing what I said (re: instructors' clients making up a disproportionate number of fatalities in La Grave) with the managers of the Telepheriques de la Meije. Or let Davidof. He seems to have ways of eliciting informtaion. Wink
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