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Ski instructor killed by avalanche in Saalbach, Austria

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
The missing ski instructor was found dead in Saalbach. In the morning, he failed to show up in the ski school, and the search started immediately.
With the help of computerized ski pass system, the authorities were able to identify the last lift he used on the top of Schattberg mountain.
The 30-year-old instructor skied the area which was closed because of avalanche danger.
Two days later the searching team found him dead on one of the most dangerous slopes.
He was hit by avalanche, and supposed to die at the moment of the accident.
In the past five days five people died in the hills of Salzburg area.

The news in German is here:
http://www.salzburg.com/sn/archiv_artikel.php?xm=1427612&res=0
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Just to clarify, at the time of the incident (Monday afternoon) the avalanche warning level was 3 (substantial risk).
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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?
It's reported in English in yesterday's Times:
http://travel.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,10294-1478469,00.html

This seasons death toll in Austria due to avalanches is now 17 (versus 8 in all of last season).

I was in Saalbach 14th-20th of January. It started snowing on the 17th, and then apparently kept on snowing for about 2 weeks non-stop (with about 2m of new snow falling).
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 You need to Login to know who's really who.
You need to Login to know who's really who.
kamikaze, what a small world we live in ...
I was in Saalbach at the same time.
It was snowing all day. I did not see the sunshine for a week.
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
I think this news is really sad, it shows how much of a dangerous sport Skiing can be.
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 You'll need to Register first of course.
You'll need to Register first of course.
Sad My prayers out to his family. I am always so saddened to hear of such things. It is unfortunate that the two sports I engage in (skiing and rock climbing) lose so many people/year.
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 Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
If the avalanche risk was that high and he chose to go off piste on his own then it sounds like he is a prime candidate for this year's Darwin awards.

For those who don't know, the Darwin awards are given each year in memory of people who successfully removed their genes from the pool by doing something so stupid it kills them.

Remember the old saying "There are old pilots and bold pilots, but there are no old, bold pilots."? The same could be said for off piste skiers and boarders.
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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!
colinmcc, See my follow-up post - added to prevent replies such as yours! He was skiing when the avalanche warning was at level 3 of a scale of 5 (second post down).
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 You'll get to see more forums and be part of the best ski club on the net.
You'll get to see more forums and be part of the best ski club on the net.
PG,

Thank you for taking the time to read my post, although I am as mystified by the point of your reply.

Yes, the hazard rating was 3 out of 5 on the day in question, and just using that as the rational for my comments above I feel perfectly justified in the comments I made.

In case you or anyone reading this post haven’t recently read the English language version of a European level 3 rating, may I refresh your memory..

Level 3: Considerable hazard
The snow pack is only moderately or poorly bonded on many steep slopes. Above all, on the steep slopes having the exposure conditions and altitude indicated, even a small additional stress, for instance caused by a single skier, could trigger an avalanche.
As a long-term average, this level is used in on about 24 per cent of all days. About 48 per cent of all fatal accidents occur at this level.



I have only the information in the two first posts to form an opinion from, as I have no knowledge as to the aspect, altitude, rate of air temp change, last new snow etc that would help decide if the guy had made the right call.

He was an instructor, and a such had been given State permission to take paying customers into the mountains to ski. That contrasts uneasily with the sad lack of judgment he displayed on this day.

Finally if my words cause(d) offense to anyone I am in turn apologetic but please accept the truth in what I wrote. It might save your life.

Colin McCubbin
Certified Canadian Avalanche Association Level 2.
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 Ski the Net with snowHeads
Ski the Net with snowHeads
PG, I had assumed your post of Fri Feb 11, 2005 6:21 am was to reinforce that this unfortunate gentleman was ill-advised.
1. "The majority of fatalities occurred when the avalanche risk for the area was 3 (considerable) on the five point international scale" (Pisthors).
2. (Whatever your ability) "Never ski off-piste on your own. A small group of 4 or 5 is best" (bbc.co.uk).
3. No one knew where this guy was - without the computerized ski pass system he may never have been found until the snow melted.
I am sure he was a lovely man, and I am very sad for his family, but, like colinmcc, I am angry too because this man was a ski instructor and should have known better. Such a waste. Sad

Further reading:
French Avalanche and Off-Piste Accidents 2004 – 2005
Learning Lessons from Avalanche Accidents
Avalanche Awareness & Avalanche Survival & Rescue
Helmet use may help prevent avalanche-associated head injury
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 snowHeads are a friendly bunch.
snowHeads are a friendly bunch.
Quote:
I have only the information in the two first posts to form an opinion from, as I have no knowledge as to the aspect, altitude, rate of air temp change, last new snow etc that would help decide if the guy had made the right call.

He was an instructor, and a such had been given State permission to take paying customers into the mountains to ski. That contrasts uneasily with the sad lack of judgment he displayed on this day.

colinmcc, I have posted numerous times on avalanche danger, so your post is rather ironic. A quick search would show that I've even posted the precise wording on a couple of occasions, so your "memory refresher" will not be necessary, thanks.

Without knowing the precise circumstances of this unfortunate death, I was simply drawing attention to the fact that trained locals in areas they are very familiar with will go off piste in areas they consider safe, at level 3. The details provided are very sketchy, so we do not really know how it happened. As you say yourself.

There is a difference between an instructor and a guide.

Yes he may have been foolish to go on his own, but I thought the Darwinian reference was rather tasteless in the circumstances. Hence my reply.
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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.
A few friends were at Saalbach the same week, they say visibility was very poor and only a few lifts were open as too much snow kept the others closed. Someone else I know heard on the radio that this ski instructor was from the Vienna area so his knowledge of the Saalbach area might not of been so great. It could well be that this ski instrutor just took the wrong route by mistake and ended up in the wrong place at the wrong time. Even the most experienced get caught out sometimes, especially in poor visibility.
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