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British skier killed on the Swiss Wall.

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Article in today's Times...Sadly a paywall.

The run was closed due.to unsafe, icy, conditions but the skier went anyway.

What a terrible consequence for a foolish decision.
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Also in the Mirror, no paywall

https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/world-news/breaking-british-skier-47-killed-32081382
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Tragic. Such a stupid way to die. Some insurance policies might decline to pay out on an accident which happened because of skiing against local advice.
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Don't want to have a fight or anything, but what "local advice" was that?
I could only read the Mirror article, which didn't say why the incident happened at all.
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@phil_w, I'm just going by the OP saying that the run was closed.
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Skis down a closed piste, falls and dies….totally avoidable.
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Very sad and not difficult to imagine what happened. It was probably fine before the rain up high this week but after it would have changed to an ice rink. It’s no steeper than Mont Fort or Chassoure -> Tortin itineraries in Verbier but it’s much lower altitude and with the recent freeze thaw and rain up to 2000m has probably transformed to ice. Once you fall, there is no way to stop and those moguls would be like concrete. A good example of how conditions can change a run that would be fairly straightforward in good conditions, to potentially deadly when icy.
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https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-13062157/Brit-skier-47-slides-metres-death-one-difficult-slopes-world-dubbed-Swiss-Wall-closed-icy-conditions.html

here says which was closed due to icy conditions

if it was so, then really stupid decision
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same as here...


https://www.blick.ch/ausland/die-bilden-sich-ein-sie-schaffen-das-skifahrer-verunfallen-auf-gesperrter-talabfahrt-id19300480.html
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Times article
British holidaymaker has died in the Swiss Alps after falling hundreds of metres down a closed ski slope famous as one of the steepest runs in the world.
The 47-year-old man was skiing down the Pas de Chavanette, also known as the Swiss Wall, which was closed because of dangerous ice.
Police said that he had fallen and slid up to 400m down the slope in the Portes du Soleil resort area near Champéry.
“Despite the rapid intervention of the rescue services, the victim, a British national living in England, died at the scene of the accident,” a statement said
It added that the Briton was with another skier and a snowboarder at the time. Prosecutors have opened an investigation. A key question is likely to be why the victim and his companions were on the piste.
Swiss officials said that the closure of the slope was clearly marked with a sign and a net at the top.
Passion Portes du Soleil, an unofficial website about the resorts, says the 900m-long Swiss Wall, with a drop of more than 300m starting from an altitude of 150m, is “among the world’s most difficult pistes”.
It adds: “Only skiers of a very good level can take it in optimum conditions.”
The warning is echoed by the Swiss tourist office, which says on its website: “Even the most hardened and acrobatic skiers will go weak at the knees here. The mountain drops away extremely steeply on the east side of the Chavanette Pass. The gradient here is up to 56 per cent.
“Because of the extreme angle, the slope cannot be prepared with a snow groomer. The mogul slope is only suitable for highly experienced skiers or snowboarders.”
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A piste closure surely counts as local advice.
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Copy that: I missed the closed piste text.
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phil_w wrote:
Don't want to have a fight or anything, but what "local advice" was that?
I could only read the Mirror article, which didn't say why the incident happened at all.


Per Mirror article

“The Chavanette route, more commonly known as the Swiss Wall, in the Valais ski resort near Champery, was closed at the time of the fatal incident.“
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
Darwin award?
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Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
More info

Fatal skiing accident at Pas de Chavanette (Mur Suisse), Portes du Soleil, Champéry, Switzerland; Slope was icy and accordingly closed, happened Wednesday 2024-02-07 at 09h45 local time (UTC+0100):

Briton (†47) dies in skiing accident in Valais
https://www.blick.ch/schweiz/westschwei ... 14509.html

Un Anglais perd la vie après une chute sur une piste fermée
https://www.20min.ch/fr/story/champery- ... -103038843

Swisstopo card, enter search term "pas de chavanette":
https://map.geo.admin.ch

https://openskimap.org/?obj=9fa6018a7fac091c3ddf8c0d8246e1c83d1bb31a#12.5/46.17349/6.80497

Piste is esp. much steeper in the upper area than you would expect from videos and the level of difficulty is strongly dependent on the prevailing conditions. The beginning is extremely steep for an official public slope, followed by roughly 300 m in steep terrain before gradually flattening out (here measured as horizontal distances). There are also rocks.
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Glad we gave it a miss last weekend (and did a mini-circuit anticlockwise via Mossettes), the return via Châtel was already on icy pistes, one can only imagine what Le Mur Suisse was a few days later... no wonder it was closed.

But we've often gone on closed pistes so let's not be judgemental.
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From my earlier post in the PdS weather thread
https://www.20min.ch/fr/story/champery-vs-un-anglais-perd-la-vie-apres-une-chute-sur-une-piste-fermee-103038843
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Quote:

But we've often gone on closed pistes so let's not be judgemental.

I'm fine with being judgemental on this occasion. Heading down the Swiss Wall when it's closed because it's even icier than normal is just daft. And invalidating your insurance isn't sensible either.
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@patrick!, speak for yourself. I did it a few times when I first started skiing, maybe 3 or 4, but not really since. I'll ski off piste but not a closed piste, primarily because it's just asking for an argument with insurers if anything goes wrong. And let's be honest, not like that run is even your average closed piste, it's full of warnings even if it's in good nick.
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BobinCH wrote:
Very sad and not difficult to imagine what happened. It was probably fine before the rain up high this week but after it would have changed to an ice rink. It’s no steeper than Mont Fort or Chassoure -> Tortin itineraries in Verbier but it’s much lower altitude and with the recent freeze thaw and rain up to 2000m has probably transformed to ice. Once you fall, there is no way to stop and those moguls would be like concrete. A good example of how conditions can change a run that would be fairly straightforward in good conditions, to potentially deadly when icy.


Not going to comment on the specific incident knowing nothing about it, except to say very sad Sad But generally, yep, can see this.
I was at Red for a freeride comp last week; started slushy, rained a bit more, then froze solid. Organizers and coaches sensibly pulled the plug because a concern (despite being just crappy) was that a fall would not be possible to arrest - and this is for some of the best junior skiers on the planet.


Last edited by Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do. on Sat 10-02-24 3:03; edited 1 time in total
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patrick! wrote:


But we've often gone on closed pistes so let's not be judgemental.


Nope, never, not once - so I am gonna be judgemental and say I hope he doesn't have family that have to live with the consequences of his bravado
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Origen wrote:
Quote:

But we've often gone on closed pistes so let's not be judgemental.

I'm fine with being judgemental on this occasion. Heading down the Swiss Wall when it's closed because it's even icier than normal is just daft. And invalidating your insurance isn't sensible either.


+1
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SnoodyMcFlude wrote:
@patrick!, speak for yourself. I did it a few times when I first started skiing, maybe 3 or 4, but not really since. I'll ski off piste but not a closed piste, primarily because it's just asking for an argument with insurers if anything goes wrong. And let's be honest, not like that run is even your average closed piste, it's full of warnings even if it's in good nick.


There is that, and then there is also the risk of getting your pass pulled. That used to happen here in St Anton when Steißbachtal was closed; ski patrol would position themselves at the bottom and do exactly that. One year they pulled the passes of sons of important village entities. Caused quite a stink. This year? Have not heard of it happening despite people skiing a closed Steißbachtal with gay abandon.
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People worry more about the small print on their insurance than... death and serious injury? My perspective is more that I don't want to die, or have the hassle of a broken body. I can pay for both, it just seems like a bad idea to ride something the patrol say isn't safe to ride. If I'm dead I'd not be terribly bothered if they pull my pass; in fact I seem to recall reading the small print on the Big White pass, and if you're dead you can get a refund on it, so it's not all bad. Kind of.

In North America a run could be closed to protect other runs. People might throw bombs onto it, or above it FFS.
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Pisted runs are closed for all sorts or reasons. Including that a fixed cable piste basher is operating. Or avalanche control in happening. Or a race is scheduled, or actually in progress. All things that can kill you easily, and possible other people too. There is no excuse for using a closed piste. If you are off piste you explicitly do so at your own judgement and risk, so that’s a completely different thing. So I join the others in judging the poster who is happy to admit skiing closed pistes.
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@phil_w, I think for the majority of closed runs, death would be a little excessive. E.g a blue run that just doesn't have enough cover is the type of thing people usually find themselves on while closed, that's more what I was referring to.
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I am in avoriaz and arrived at the wall just after this happened. The piste had a net right across. Normally if it’s closed the net is most of the way accross, allowing people to slip round the edge based on their personal decision I guess. However this time it was right up the slope on either side.

I went down the lift above the wall when it opened. I went over a pole, then another, then some skis, then gloves and then goggles. It was obvious someone had kid some distance before eventually stopping.

The conditions looked lethal. I am (ahem) a very confident off piste skier but could see it was a minefield of huge rock hard ice moguls.

Rip to the poor skier.
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SnoodyMcFlude wrote:
@phil_w, I think for the majority of closed runs, death would be a little excessive. E.g a blue run that just doesn't have enough cover is the type of thing people usually find themselves on while closed, that's more what I was referring to.

But are you sure that your hypothetical Blue run isn't closed due to avalanche risk? Or to preserve the small amount of remaining snow to allow it to reopen more quickly?

Skiing down closed runs is stupid. Or selfish. Or both.
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In the US do closed runs and areas strictly mean that? Watching videos online previously, the patrols come down hard on those flouting the signs.
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Jonny Jones wrote:
SnoodyMcFlude wrote:
@phil_w, I think for the majority of closed runs, death would be a little excessive. E.g a blue run that just doesn't have enough cover is the type of thing people usually find themselves on while closed, that's more what I was referring to.

But are you sure that your hypothetical Blue run isn't closed due to avalanche risk? Or to preserve the small amount of remaining snow to allow it to reopen more quickly?

Skiing down closed runs is stupid. Or selfish. Or both.


I'm not saying that it's something to do (quite the opposite if you actually read my posts), but I am saying that danger of death isn't usually high on the list of reasons a run is closed. And for the avoidance of doubt, because these days every discussion on Snowheads seems to end up being treated as binary rolling eyes , that doesn't mean that there is no danger of death either
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 Poster: A snowHead
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Sounds like mogul pinball.

Every longtime skier has ducked under the ropes at some point.

Rest in piste, brah.
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@SnoodyMcFlude, +1

A fenced of piece of home run at Cairngorm used to mean you were likely to fall through the snow into the burn and end up waist high in freezing cold water.
A calculated gamble for a skinny-mallinky 10yo.
This is, obviously, on a wholly different level.
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BobinCH wrote:
Very sad and not difficult to imagine what happened. It was probably fine before the rain up high this week but after it would have changed to an ice rink. It’s no steeper than Mont Fort or Chassoure -> Tortin itineraries in Verbier but it’s much lower altitude and with the recent freeze thaw and rain up to 2000m has probably transformed to ice. Once you fall, there is no way to stop and those moguls would be like concrete. A good example of how conditions can change a run that would be fairly straightforward in good conditions, to potentially deadly when icy.


I am sorry but you can never define the Swiss wall as straightforward. I was stood above it in early Jan in perfect conditions and watched many accomplished skiers struggle down it. In my opinion, when open, this piste is an ego flex and one for the absolute specialists otherwise you are literally playing roulette.
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When I was skiing in Les Arcs there were a couple of really weird closures. On one there was a section of blue mid-mountain closed and another a red down into Vallandry - the last section was closed. Possibly because of thin snow cover but I've skied a lot worse open. It certainly wasn't because of ice, ava or anything obvious. And the closure was one sign in the middle rather than full netting. We went down both as I know the area/pistes well and I couldn't think of any issues. And we took it easy just in case.

Also over above Les Coches piste Esselet went from closed (thin cover), to being open for good skiers only, to fully open on consecutive days with no new snow and little change in conditions. This one we didn't ski when closed because we know it can be very thin in places. Lovely piste mind.

I've been skiing a long time and I find some of these closures/decisions a bit odd/baffling.

NOTE: Something like the Swiss Wall is a different kettle of fish!!!
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@Moorzee10, "many accomplished skiers struggle down it"

That just means your definition of "accomplished" is somewhat basic.

It's not that tough. The top 20-30 metres are generally very large bumps, thereafter it's steepish bumps for 50 metres or so, and then it's pretty mellow.

But I would not go near it when it's icy. It's long.

The account of 20 odd deaths a season? Yep.

When I was repping, I would actively steer keen clients away from it. Not because of the skiing, but the self-propelled uncontrolled human missiles from above. Still skiied it at least twice a week though rolling eyes
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skimummk wrote:
patrick! wrote:


But we've often gone on closed pistes so let's not be judgemental.


Nope, never, not once - so I am gonna be judgemental and say I hope he doesn't have family that have to live with the consequences of his bravado


I reckon most on here will have skied a closed piste in their skiing career.... I think those that haven't will be in a minority. Not that we've skied anything as extreme as the Swiss Wall, mind...
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Moorzee10 wrote:
BobinCH wrote:
Very sad and not difficult to imagine what happened. It was probably fine before the rain up high this week but after it would have changed to an ice rink. It’s no steeper than Mont Fort or Chassoure -> Tortin itineraries in Verbier but it’s much lower altitude and with the recent freeze thaw and rain up to 2000m has probably transformed to ice. Once you fall, there is no way to stop and those moguls would be like concrete. A good example of how conditions can change a run that would be fairly straightforward in good conditions, to potentially deadly when icy.


In my opinion, when open, this piste is an ego flex and one for the absolute specialists otherwise you are literally playing roulette.


Surely you mean metaphorical roulette? Or is there a casino at the top of the run? Puzzled Toofy Grin
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Moorzee10 wrote:
BobinCH wrote:
Very sad and not difficult to imagine what happened. It was probably fine before the rain up high this week but after it would have changed to an ice rink. It’s no steeper than Mont Fort or Chassoure -> Tortin itineraries in Verbier but it’s much lower altitude and with the recent freeze thaw and rain up to 2000m has probably transformed to ice. Once you fall, there is no way to stop and those moguls would be like concrete. A good example of how conditions can change a run that would be fairly straightforward in good conditions, to potentially deadly when icy.


I am sorry but you can never define the Swiss wall as straightforward. I was stood above it in early Jan in perfect conditions and watched many accomplished skiers struggle down it. In my opinion, when open, this piste is an ego flex and one for the absolute specialists otherwise you are literally playing roulette.


I’ve skied it with my kids in decent condition when they were young and it was fine. It’s steep right at the top for the first few turns where the moguls get big but then opens up and flattens out. It’s actually easier on short kids skis to get round the moguls! The issue here is that it’s a completely different prospect when icy compared to when there is fresh / chalky / grippy snow. It’s the same with any steep run. Even a red piste can be dangerous when it’s been rained on, refrozen and turned to a sheet of ice.

This is a steep run - 57 degrees gradient at the top vs 37 degrees on the Swiss Wall

http://youtube.com/v/OAZxO5PvucQ
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Moorzee10 wrote:
BobinCH wrote:
Very sad and not difficult to imagine what happened. It was probably fine before the rain up high this week but after it would have changed to an ice rink. It’s no steeper than Mont Fort or Chassoure -> Tortin itineraries in Verbier but it’s much lower altitude and with the recent freeze thaw and rain up to 2000m has probably transformed to ice. Once you fall, there is no way to stop and those moguls would be like concrete. A good example of how conditions can change a run that would be fairly straightforward in good conditions, to potentially deadly when icy.


I am sorry but you can never define the Swiss wall as straightforward. I was stood above it in early Jan in perfect conditions and watched many accomplished skiers struggle down it. In my opinion, when open, this piste is an ego flex and one for the absolute specialists otherwise you are literally playing roulette.


One the thing that makes the Swiss Wall so dangerous is what lies to the right (looking down from the top) - i.e. not the moguls but the rocky outcrop with a fairly significant drop.

Many people like to start by going right for a bit at the top (crossing under the chairlift) before crossing back part way down. Some people go quite far right to get the better snow.

If you fall while on the right of the chairlift - you could be sliding towards that rocky outcrop and a significant fall. Of course, no idea if that is what happened in this tragic case.

If you head way over the other side - away from the chairlift I would say it's more benign than Mont Fort / Tortin (aside from occasional scattered rocks).

Not all photos online clearly show this outcrop.

This one does (of course it's on the left looking from the bottom). You can see where people have created moguls after crossing under the chairlift at the top - before crossing back...

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johnybloggs wrote:
I am in avoriaz and arrived at the wall just after this happened. The piste had a net right across. Normally if it’s closed the net is most of the way accross, allowing people to slip round the edge based on their personal decision I guess. However this time it was right up the slope on either side.


I think this is an important point. In trying to understand why someone would go down this when it's closed - it's important to bear in mind, as people who are familiar with this particular run will know, it has a history of appearing sort of (but not fully closed). Someone who has been down it with no problems many times before when it's "closed" (but with the netting set up to allow people to take the personal risk if they want to) might not recognise the "fully closed" state as being much more dangerous than usual.
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