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Crans Montana avalanche 19.2.19

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Huge avalanche onto Plaine Morte piste this afternoon at 1423 local. 10 or 12 still missing. The piste was open at the time. Hopefully everyone is found safe and sound.

https://www.lenouvelliste.ch/articles/valais/valais-central/crans-montana-entre-dix-et-douze-personnes-sous-l-avalanche-821421
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Looks very grim.
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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?
@thecramps, Not skied there for a few years but used to go there a lot. The slide entirely covers the cruisey red piste that comes down from the glacier. At this time of year and that time of day it will have been very busy and obviously people would not necessarily have been wearing transceivers.

The sector often closes in warm weather during the spring as the slopes above are prone to slide.


Last edited by Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see? on Tue 19-02-19 16:46; edited 2 times in total
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Scary stuff.
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Shocked Shocked
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That's huge, and where it came from looks to be extremely steep so even though it's spring snow it would have probably come down real quick catching people, hope I'm wrong and that many saw it coming and were able to get out of the way.

Think questions will be raised as @Steve Sparks, mentions as to why it was open if it's happened before?
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There were a couple of very loud supersonic booms at Les Mosses, 20km to the west, but that was probably closer to 1500.
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Doesn’t look good. Terrible luck for those caught and fingers crossed. Big ones going in the evenings across the path between Savoleyres and Carrefour. It’s closed but we’re often guilty of ignoring the sign...
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I went here at new year and this was a great run down. As others have said, fingers crossed that people had notice and were able to get out of the way (by skiing left uphill a bit) but it's a marquee run so will attract a range of abilities and, frankly, levels of luck. Looks a very long area to search Sad

Interestingly I think it's a black now rather than a red? I was sure it was a black when I did it, but the maps online show red - but the Crans website shows black.
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Can see it all lit up by the rescuers, all the across the other side of the valley in Nendaz. Seems like a huge area.
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It's 2 metres deep and 300 long. Looks like it triggered from high up on Tubang which is the peak that overshadows that area and would almost have certainly been a spontaneous trigger. Avalanche risk was 2/5 at the time. Press conference in 15 minutes.
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Sad
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This was the avalanche report for Valais today:

In particular in east to south to west facing aspects below approximately 2500m.
In particular in east to south to west facing aspects below approximately 2500m.
Danger description

In particular on very steep grassy slopes gliding avalanches are possible as the day progresses. These can in some cases reach large size. Caution is to be exercised in areas with glide cracks.

The side that avalanched is eastfaced (if I am right) and would have been warmed up early today. You can also see a lot of cracks on some of the pictures.

Really tragic and symphaty too all affected. That includes the employees at Crans Montana that must feel awful today.
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Living up to it's name by the sound of it. Very sad.
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There's an article on Le Nouvelliste website in which an avalanche expert says this wasn't foreseeable, that it would have been slow moving compared with a powder avalanche, and that there is a greater chance of surviving in air pockets

https://www.lenouvelliste.ch/articles/valais/canton/roberto-bolognesi-les-avalanches-de-neige-mouillee-laissent-davantage-de-poches-d-air-que-les-seches-821458
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Taken from

https://www.ledauphine.com/france-monde/2019/02/19/crans-montana-une-avalanche-ensevelie-plusieurs-personnes
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There was another SH thread recently discussing the very low risk/occurrence rate of avalanches coming down onto groomed pistes. Sadly, this is the one which breaks the rules.
Fingers crossed for all.
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Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
I hope Valais2 and his family are OK.
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Thoughts to all those involved.

A stark reminder of the dangers of being on the mountain....
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Hurtle wrote:
I hope Valais2 and his family are OK.


Yes indeed. They do frequent CM don't they.
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Latest update from the press conference, 4 rescued who had been buried, one of them seriously injured. There is understandably a lack of clarity as to whether others remain buried. 200 rescuers at the scene.
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Thoughts to all those involved, including the rescue teams.
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How awful
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@ster, and Hurtle - many thanks - we by chance met family in Grimentz today so were in the other side of the valley but were up and down Plaine Morte all day Sunday and Monday. At 2.15 it’s busy since they have been closing the run at 2.45. We’ve been very busy texting as we came back from Grimentz to make sure all friends and family are ok. Kids pretty upset. Big questions already being asked since it’s a known risk and usually well patrolled and set off with explosives early in the morning. Public prosecutor already engaged and investigating. People do ski the off piste slope which let go, and reducing Avi 3 yesterday to 2 may have encouraged people to try the slope. Of course high winds at Christmas left a very glassy layer low in the pack, as I said in earlier posts this year. This kind of deep layer can be very troublesome. Thanks for your concerns and thoughts. With up to 12 missing there are a lot of people still on the hill, floodlights are up and the army is out since they were here in big numbers to set up the Coup du Monde Femmes. Usually in such situations the number of missing reduces as people reported missing are just delayed or helping - and we really hope that number of 12 comes down.


Last edited by You'll get to see more forums and be part of the best ski club on the net. on Tue 19-02-19 22:00; edited 1 time in total
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I will post any updates which come from local knowledge which give more detail than the news feeds.
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@valais2, glad to hear you and yours are well at least.
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@ster, many thanks

This is the most informative news piece and the video shows the extent and nature of the slide. It’s heavily compacted so very dangerous re blunt trauma injury - like blocks of concrete. It’s reported as over 800m long - and the shots confirm this - we know this Passage de Major section well. It appears to be over 4m deep in places - I estimate tens of thousand of cubic metres of debris.

https://www.swissinfo.ch/eng/mountain-accident_crans-montana-avalanche-buries-skiers/44769096
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ster wrote:
@valais2, glad to hear you and yours are well at least.
+1
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Thanks Hurtle - lots of activity here
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Having spent a lot of my childhood summers (and a single winter week) in Crans Montana, I feel very shocked.
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@valais2, thank you for keeping us updated. It's an awful time for all involved.
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This has come in. The video a few seconds in tracks the entire course of the slide, which originates in the rocky outcrop right at the top of the ridge above Col du Pochet. This rules out triggering by skiers on the normal off piste itinerary above the affected piste but well below the ridge.

https://www.wintersport.nl/weblog/bericht/459640/live-lawine-over-piste-crans-montana
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This report has a clear photo of the origin point of the slide - this outcrop is pretty rotten rock - we have climbed all over this area.

https://www.google.co.uk/amp/s/www.cbsnews.com/amp/news/avalanche-buries-skiers-switzerland-alps-crans-montana-ski-resort-valais-canton-rescues-2019-02-19/
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How terrible - hope that the reports are wrong and all recovered already
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I hope the reports are wrong too, but how likely is an ordinary red run not to be busy in the early afternoon of a sunny day in school holidays? Sad Sad
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Ouch.

Ski patrol messed up bad.

A classic afternoon avalanche.

Snow layers heatup in the sun or warmth and slipslide away on a bed of melt.
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^^Looking at the photos, it does look like a "classic" setup, especially given the warmer temperatures. I'm pretty surprised that it wasn't triggered, but maybe the patrol took samples etc. and it all checked out. Another in-bounds fatal slide also happened in Taos (I think) earlier this winter.
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Whitegold wrote:
Ouch.

Ski patrol messed up bad.

A classic afternoon avalanche.

Snow layers heatup in the sun or warmth and slipslide away on a bed of melt.
You are a fountain of knowledge. Have you ever considered writing a book on the subject? Sure to be a must have for every piste-patroller and mountain guide.
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Search has been conducted throughout the night. No persons found. Status is still 4 found and taken to hospital in Sion, one in serious condition. Hopefully that will be the total number.
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Pasigal wrote:
^^Looking at the photos, it does look like a "classic" setup, especially given the warmer temperatures. I'm pretty surprised that it wasn't triggered,


Triggered in what way?
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