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Verbier 4 Vallées 2020/21

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
@BobinCH, not a bad day then!!! Is the place noticeably quieter compared to other Januaries??
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Eeesh this one is too close to home
https://www.lenouvelliste.ch/articles/valais/canton/verbier-dix-skieurs-hors-piste-pris-par-une-avalanche-1-mort-1032688?aio-facebook-post
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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?
BobinCH wrote:
Eeesh this one is too close to home
https://www.lenouvelliste.ch/articles/valais/canton/verbier-dix-skieurs-hors-piste-pris-par-une-avalanche-1-mort-1032688?aio-facebook-post


That looks like a sketchy place to have been with those conditions. Sad all the way around. Stay safe out there folks!
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Jeez, that is awful.

I saw a facebook video of a big slide on Creblets yesterday, it said 8 skiers caught, all OK.
Apparently a group (?) of 20 were on Creblets...WTF WERE THEY THINKING OF???

A Level 4 Avalanche day on the most Avi prone slope I can think of in the whole area.
There are almost zero holiday punters so probably all locals.
WTF??
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Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Awful.
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rungsp wrote:
Jeez, that is awful.

I saw a facebook video of a big slide on Creblets yesterday, it said 8 skiers caught, all OK.
Apparently a group (?) of 20 were on Creblets...WTF WERE THEY THINKING OF???

A Level 4 Avalanche day on the most Avi prone slope I can think of in the whole area.
There are almost zero holiday punters so probably all locals.
WTF??


Powder frenzy is getting worse unfortunately... and they open Attelas, even on avi 4 day, so all the couloirs are accessible...

On Saturday there were a lot of day trippers. Huge queues at Le Chable. Today was quiet, just locals. But decent queue for first lift - literally everyone in the queue looked like a freerider, with several pros amongst them...
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^ Verbier / Cham etc been like that for years. Basically everything accessible gets skied once lift opens. So on cat 4 days people are charging into 40 degree slopes to get first tracks is "normal".

Maybe some people are making "good calls". Or maybe they are just getting lucky and thinking they made a good decision? Either way : less experienced skiers see others having fun and getting away with it. So understandably they root in for some fresh tracks of their own.

In photo (link above) the entrance to Attelas #1 seems very well tracked? The slab has released literally yards from other tracks / lift station and almost certainly funneled down the couloir (which is horrible terrain trap). Pretty easy to imagine how accident like that could happen during frenzy of a pow day.

It is amazing there aren't more accidents. My theory is that in big resorts the volume of skier traffic coupled with bombing reduces the risk. Weak layers don't last long as often slopes are skied even as snow is falling. Of course this leads to false sense of security that it's ok to ski steeps at level 4.... Maybe you get away with it in the resort (most of the time). However go touring with less skier traffic and you get caught out.

I hesitate to pass judgement : as a youngster in my 20s skied lots of similarly sketchy slopes. Only in later years do you fully understand concept of how much risk you were really taking.

Certainly 2 deaths in one day not cool : worth opening lift for?
RIP and thoughts with families.
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@Haggis_Trap, I think you are spot on, on all counts.

Here is the aftermath of the slide. It went a long way so a huge volume of snow fell down that cliff


The green line is the classic route into the couloir (rocknroll). The slab has gone in the next slope but funneled in and onto the skiers below. The person who triggered it would have fallen down that rocky cliff and would have had little chance. There are 3 fast tracks out of XV a much more tricky couloir (marked in blue). These were probably pros - J. Heitz and his group were in the first bin. Maybe the unfortunate skier followed their tracks in a less fluid style and triggered it. It seems there is a 2nd death. It’s very sobering to think what those families are going through tonight.
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I'm slightly surprised patrol don't bomb that in order to mitigate exactly this scenario. This is very sad. I'm extremely sorry.
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gorilla wrote:
I'm slightly surprised patrol don't bomb that in order to mitigate exactly this scenario. This is very sad. I'm extremely sorry.


I don’t think this area gets bombed. I don’t recall bomb holes. Same issue around Creblet
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BobinCH wrote:
gorilla wrote:
I'm slightly surprised patrol don't bomb that in order to mitigate exactly this scenario. This is very sad. I'm extremely sorry.

I don’t think this area gets bombed. I don’t recall bomb holes. Same issue around Creblet


AFAIK - Creblet gets bombed (though maybe not on this occasion).
As do other areas like accessible side-country zones like Col Du Mouche / Bari's bowl (but not the backside of Mont Fort).

Problem is that you can't control an area that big (complex terrain) and make it completely safe in time for lift opening.
Only takes a small pocket of instability to trigger something much larger.
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And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
BobinCH wrote:
rungsp wrote:
Jeez, that is awful.

I saw a facebook video of a big slide on Creblets yesterday, it said 8 skiers caught, all OK.
Apparently a group (?) of 20 were on Creblets...WTF WERE THEY THINKING OF???

A Level 4 Avalanche day on the most Avi prone slope I can think of in the whole area.
There are almost zero holiday punters so probably all locals.
WTF??


Powder frenzy is getting worse unfortunately... and they open Attelas, even on avi 4 day, so all the couloirs are accessible...



Does Patrol bomb any of that stuff? I mean, here in the States, if it is in bounds, and even some side country at a few ski areas will do some avy control work. But just curious in this situation.
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@Toadman, it's been a long time but I recall them bombing some but not all of the commonly skied terrain. As Haggis Trap says it is a massive area and impossible to secure all of it.
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
I’m pretty sure they don’t bomb Creblet or Attelas couloirs as it is off piste terrain without runoff onto pistes or itineraries. They bomb the ridge above Chassoure but not Mouche. IME Creblet and Mouche are the 2 most dangerous areas. Rocknroll next. The bomb holes provide clear evidence.
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@Toadman, generally, in Europe, avalanche control is purely for on piste (or infrastructure) security. If you’re off piste, it’s at your own risk.

Some controlled itineraries exist and are marked, secured and patrolled. But it’s not at all like North America.
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Toadman wrote:
BobinCH wrote:
rungsp wrote:
Jeez, that is awful.

I saw a facebook video of a big slide on Creblets yesterday, it said 8 skiers caught, all OK.
Apparently a group (?) of 20 were on Creblets...WTF WERE THEY THINKING OF???

A Level 4 Avalanche day on the most Avi prone slope I can think of in the whole area.
There are almost zero holiday punters so probably all locals.
WTF??


Powder frenzy is getting worse unfortunately... and they open Attelas, even on avi 4 day, so all the couloirs are accessible...



Does Patrol bomb any of that stuff? I mean, here in the States, if it is in bounds, and even some side country at a few ski areas will do some avy control work. But just curious in this situation.


There is a lot of terrain that is bombed - all the itineraries and slopes running onto pistes (which is a lot and where most less experienced people are skiing « side of the piste »). There are however a few easily accessible couloirs that are neither itineraries, nor with run off onto pistes and these seem to be where most of the accidents happen. But as per @Haggis_Trap above, given the number of riders going straight onto these routes even on avi 4 days, 1) weak layers usually get broken 2) there are « relatively » few accidents considering the terrain and number of riders
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its become crazy when people are messing about on 40 degrees slopes on level 4 days not only endangering their lifes but others. There's plenty of good stuff at 30 degrees
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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?
Alas the deaths happened yesterday with risk level 3 and it seems experienced riders Crying or Very sad
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This was from Saturday in Mont Gelé sector (which remains closed)
https://www.instagram.com/p/CKOHJxhgv6R/?igshid=m3ote2fqlkv2
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@BobinCH, relieved it wasn't you as that was my first thought when I read it on planetski, but probably someone known to you or the expat community there, absolutely awful.

I see a Swedish skier seems to have died in a fall yesterday also off the same lift. Kids waiting for him at the bottom. Appalling stuff condolences to all.

https://www.lenouvelliste.ch/articles/valais/canton/un-skieur-fait-une-chute-mortelle-apres-avoir-quitte-les-pistes-a-verbier-1032605
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BobinCH wrote:
Eeesh this one is too close to home
https://www.lenouvelliste.ch/articles/valais/canton/verbier-dix-skieurs-hors-piste-pris-par-une-avalanche-1-mort-1032688?aio-facebook-post

Looking back to the previous page of this thread, is that where you were on New Year's Eve, @BobinCH?
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My lovely daughter is in tears this morning...2 of her friends were those killed yesterday.
One an ex-colleague ski instructor and one a chef.

@BobinCH, thanks for your posts, it has helped her somewhat to be able to clearly see what happened.
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 After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
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@8611, the Swedish man must have been so unlucky. From the description of where it happened he was in a very mellow off-piste area that has a couple of large humps which have steep faces.


He must have gone onto one in the reported bad visibility.
In normal conditions they are incredibly obvious and very easily avoided.

I can imagine how it could happen, in poor light I did a similar sized fall off a similar hump once and it happened so quickly...but lucky for me into a deep snowdrift so the only thing hurt was my pride.
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8611 wrote:
@BobinCH, relieved it wasn't you as that was my first thought when I read it on planetski, but probably someone known to you or the expat community there, absolutely awful.

I see a Swedish skier seems to have died in a fall yesterday also off the same lift. Kids waiting for him at the bottom. Appalling stuff condolences to all.

https://www.lenouvelliste.ch/articles/valais/canton/un-skieur-fait-une-chute-mortelle-apres-avoir-quitte-les-pistes-a-verbier-1032605


Thank you. As @rungsp it seems that one was in Lac de Vaux and more of a freak accident in bad viz. No less painful for the family
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rungsp wrote:
My lovely daughter is in tears this morning...2 of her friends were those killed yesterday.
One an ex-colleague ski instructor and one a chef.

@BobinCH, thanks for your posts, it has helped her somewhat to be able to clearly see what happened.


I am really sorry for her and all involved. We all know it could happen to any of us and are reflecting on our choices and having difficult discussions...
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jebroni3_16 wrote:
BobinCH wrote:
Eeesh this one is too close to home
https://www.lenouvelliste.ch/articles/valais/canton/verbier-dix-skieurs-hors-piste-pris-par-une-avalanche-1-mort-1032688?aio-facebook-post

Looking back to the previous page of this thread, is that where you were on New Year's Eve, @BobinCH?


We were in 3 fingers on NYE and in XV on 2nd Jan but in different conditions. 3 fingers is my favorite that I ski regularly. Rarely ski the others for various reasons
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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.
Haggis_Trap wrote:
^ Verbier / Cham etc been like that for years. Basically everything accessible gets skied once lift opens. So on cat 4 days people are charging into 40 degree slopes to get first tracks is "normal".... Maybe some people are making "good calls". Or maybe they are just getting lucky and thinking they made a good decision? ...
I wasn't there and don't know the area well, but that's true of other places I do know well.
It's a game of chance, and taking the risk almost always works out very well.

Perhaps it's not particularly helpful to think of this as anything other than the inevitable basic cost of doing the sport?
I mean, like with driving cars, there's a level of risk which can't be avoided. No one wants bad things to happen, but they still do, still will.
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BobinCH wrote:
rungsp wrote:
My lovely daughter is in tears this morning...2 of her friends were those killed yesterday.
One an ex-colleague ski instructor and one a chef.

@BobinCH, thanks for your posts, it has helped her somewhat to be able to clearly see what happened.


I am really sorry for her and all involved. We all know it could happen to any of us and are reflecting on our choices and having difficult discussions...


It really makes you think doesn't it. I've fortunately not been involved in anything like that or know anyone that has, but when you read these things, you really think back to some of the things you've done.

We skied, what unknowingly to us at the time, was a closed black run in Avoriaz a couple of years ago. We didn't realise we'd dropped off piste and cut back on to the closed black run, as it wasn't obvious in the light. That run in the fresh snow though was undoubtedly the best run i've done, and we lapped it a few times, but when we talked about it to a friend that night that lived over in Chatel he couldn't believe what we'd been doing. Thankful nothing went wrong on that day.
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
If you're going down any of those lines you're a serious skier and it's unlikely it's your first time doing stuff like that either. They were probably very experienced and capable, just got 'unlucky'. Agree with all the comments about the charge for first tracks and also the one about confirmation bias.

My friends are skiing with a guide a lot at the moment and they posted a picture of a thin but very significant black line between the layers of snow that looked horrendous. Roughly 150 deaths/year from avalanches and 130 of those in Europe. May be a bad year despite covid restrictions.

The guy in Lac de Veux had to be pretty unlucky though. It said between the black and blue runs and there really aren't that many 6 metre fall possible in that area. That is a horrible, horrible thing for the kids.

Sobering reality check.
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Sad weekend in Switzerland with a lot of avalanches on a high risk weekend. It seems like we very often can see this pattern in January. A heavy snow episode after a period with not so much snow and the result is devastating with many fatalities. I dont have any statistics for this hypothesis, but the first large snow fall in January always seem to be the most dangerous one. Maybe the reason might be that it falls on a frozen layer with weak layers that needs long time to settle (if it settles at all for a long period of time). Or maybe it is the powder panic that reaches extreme levels during the first really good conditions during the season? Persistant weak layers has been discussed a lot in other threads and might continue to create troubles in northern and western Alps this year. Like it has been discussed earlier on this page, the "powder panic" during these snowfall episodes can be seen in many places in the Alps. No time is given for the snow to settle.

So far, 13 people has died in avalanches in Switzerland this winter. This is half the average in a normal season, and we are only half into January. Quite peculiar given that very few tourists are visiting this season. Are the locals taking higher risks this year? Are "normal" routes around ski resorts more dangerous this year as they are skied less? Or are the conditions just more fragile this season?
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Woosh wrote:
It seems like we very often can see this pattern in January.


In simple terms mid winter conditions (cold) are more likely to promote weak layers in the snow which causes avalanches.

Once we get into spring then frequent freeze / thaws help consolidate the "crystals / hoar frost" into "rounds" much faster.
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BobinCH wrote:
I’m pretty sure they don’t bomb Creblet or Attelas couloirs as it is off piste terrain without runoff onto pistes or itineraries. They bomb the ridge above Chassoure but not Mouche. IME Creblet and Mouche are the 2 most dangerous areas. Rocknroll next. The bomb holes provide clear evidence.


Okay, that would make sense. I was wondering if those couloirs were above in bounds terrain, thus necessitating some form of avy control. Sad situation all the way around.

We had the opposite happen at my home mtn on Saturday, where an 8 year old ended up on some sold ice, steep terrain, and went for a very long and hard ride, requiring a medical evacuation. One individual reported a lot of blood at the scene. Patrol ended up roping off the sides of the groomed run from the summit chair where all the ice had formed from a rain/freeze cycle.
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Woosh wrote:
So far, 13 people has died in avalanches in Switzerland this winter. This is half the average in a normal season, and we are only half into January. Quite peculiar given that very few tourists are visiting this season. Are the locals taking higher risks this year? Are "normal" routes around ski resorts more dangerous this year as they are skied less? Or are the conditions just more fragile this season?


95% of tourists don't go off-piste, and the 5% who do are likely to need a guide to get them to anything they can ski which is likely to slide. How many guides were in the 13, and how many of them were skiing without a guide?
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Last edited by You need to Login to know who's really who. on Tue 19-01-21 20:19; edited 1 time in total
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It is sad@Idris, show some respect. One was British and I see an Irish person now also being reported as having died in an avalanche incident in Switzerland.

English speakers, people who knew them may well find this page please moderate your comments appropriately.

I also understand it was level 3 and as philwig said above and I remember Davidof saying previously, we can all look at these events after the fact and conclude that mistakes were made and that was why they died, there's a fallacy in this thinking. Skiing off piste has a constant element of danger and sometimes it goes wrong. Its easy to make mistakes, you're saying yourself you've made multiple mistakes, and some people don't even make mistakes and still die.


EDIT: Irish skier seems to have been killed in a separate incident
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@Idris, if you want to pontificate then at least get your facts right, it was avi level 3 on sat and sun.
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Last edited by Then you can post your own questions or snow reports... on Tue 19-01-21 20:59; edited 1 time in total
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 After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
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Verbier and the Val de Bagnes is mourning the loss of two talented, hard working, young men who had each made their own contribution to the wonderful, vibrant, and supportive community that some of us are fortunate enough to call home.

There are many heartbroken people here.

The time for analysis and lessons to be learned will come.

It is not now.
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Quote:

95% of tourists don't go off-piste, and the 5% who do are likely to need a guide to get them to anything they can ski which is likely to slide. How many guides were in the 13, and how many of them were skiing without a guide?


Poubelle Laughing Laughing
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