Avalanches – Val Thorens, Courchevel, Serre Chevalier

The Alps have seen several avalanches over the last few days in several resorts from France to Switzerland. Sadly many people have been caught up including five people who have died and two people who were seriously injured.

For the last week we have had warnings of very unstable conditions when this dump finally appeared. If you would like to be kept up to date with future warnings follow SkiGB on Twitter, Facebook or our RSS feed from our blog.

A total of 6 avalanches have happened (update: more since writing this), 4 in the French Alps and 1 in Switzerland.

We know this is a morbid subject and can scare holiday skiers and boarders, but it is a fact of life if you go off piste skiing. As far as we can tell (from early reports) all the skiers were off piste and had been warned of dangers by signs put up by the resorts.

 

It is VERY rare to be caught up in an avalanche skiing on-piste, so for non off piste skiers please don’t worry and obey the signs.

 

We can’t help to think though that a sign is not enough. After all how many times do drivers on the UK roads ignore warning signs. I think there needs to be more pro-active safety messages from the pisters or/and ski resorts. Something that people don’t take as a challenge or young lads use as a badge of ‘extreme skiing’. Some resorts in America take away your lift pass if found off piste, this looks to do the job and certainly stopped the skiers we have met. European resorts please take note, it’s not right to just say ‘We put up warning signs’ and wash their hands of it. We are not saying that off piste skiing should be banned (far from it), just enforce when in times of danger.

We just think better policing by the resorts may help reduce the number of deaths on our slopes.

Until that happens we urge off piste skiers and snowboarders to follow reputable websites that cover the area you will be skiing. Many ski resorts own websites are completely useless (unlike Val Thorens and the 3 Valleys which are very good) so find local based sites and follow their posts.

We of course will be on the case for the 3 Valleys as per our tweets for the last week have been reporting. If you would like more in depth information please let us know and we will add in future reports.

So back to the recent avalanches, the 3 Valleys have had two areas which have been affected, Courchevel have sadly reported a death of an experienced local man who had been skiing with his son. Fortunately the son managed to survive. The other area was in Val Thorens in the Bosmint area where several people were buried waste deep. Fortunately all survived, we have spoken to several people who have been buried waste deep in other avalanches and it can take many hours to dig yourself out. Then there are the injuries, broken bones to being mentally effected.

One thing we have learnt over the years is that you can never be too experienced, it doesn’t matter if you have skied all your life and skied off piste safely many times, respect the mountain and keep learning.

The best thing is not to be caught up in the first place.

 

Our condolences go out to the families effected by these deaths.