14th March 2023
The recent fresh snow, with more falling, has produced some dangerous conditions off piste. 4 people have died in Switzerland in recent days with authorities urging caution of piste across the Alps. NEW
Three people have died in the Verbier area in the Valais Canton – two in Val des Bagnes and one in Nendaz.
Across the whole of Switzerland there have been 17 recorded avalanches with 7 people buried since the weekend.
The risk on Tuesday remains as Level 3 meaning there is “considerable risk of avalanches across large areas of Switzerland”.
It was a similar picture on Monday.
“Heavy snowfall and a stormy wind led to large accumulations of snow,” said the Valais Police in a statement at the weekend.
“The avalanche danger is very high throughout the canton.
“It is better not to ski outside of the marked slopes, on unsecured terrain or without professional supervision if you do not have the necessary experience.”
The first fatal incident happened on Saturday in the Bruson area where two people were caught.
At around noon, two people died outside the marked slopes in the Scex Blanc region above Bruson.
They were at 2,092m on a north-west facing slope.
The risk was Level 4 meaning there was a “high” chance of avalanche.
The second incident happened in the Nendaz sector.
It happened on 2,709m on a north facing slope.
At around 12:30 p.m., a group of three skiers left the marked slopes of the Col des Gentianes ski heading in the direction of Tortin.
When they reached the “Louettes Econdouè” thye wer ehit by an avalnahcr that buried one of the group.
The victim was located by his friends and dug out.
“The skier was given medical care and resuscitated on site by the rescue workers,” said the police.
“Despite the best efforts, the victim, a 28-year-old Dutchman residing in the Netherlands, died at the scene of the accident.”
The public prosecutor’s office has launched an investigation.
Also on Sunday a person died in Lauterbrunen in the Berne canton in Switzerland.
It was at 2,172 on a north facing slope.
The risk was at Level 3 on Sunday.
It follows a large snowstorm accompanied by high winds.
One of our readers sent us the image below from Verbier, that shows the current fragility of the snow pack in the area.
It was taken in Col des Gentianes area.
A sharp rise in temperatures has led to the snow becoming wet and heavy.
It is a similar situation in other parts of the Alps where snow has fallen with some high altitude runs closed and the piste patrol is carrying out blasting to make the slopes safe.
“Lots of avalanche blasting going on and not sure how much open yet,” said PlanetSKI’s chief reporter Jane Peel from Les Arcs in France first thing this morning.
“The avalanche danger rating came down very quickly from a ‘high’ 4/5 on Sunday the day of the wild snow & rain storms accompanied by high wind to a ‘considerable’ 3/5 on Monday,” said the Off piste guide who is based in Val d’Isere, Henry Schniewind..
“With the weather looking much calmer this coming week, we suspect the avalanche danger will remain somewhere between a 3/5 above 2200 m and a ‘moderate’ 2/5 below that altitude for most of the week (possibly going up to a 4 again if we get any significant amounts of fresh snow).
“We’ve recently noticed a worrying series of incidents of people setting off avalanches on top of other people skiing below them.
“This generally seems to happen the first day of decent weather following a snowstorm, when people go into a ‘powder frenzy’.
“Fortunately, we haven’t heard of any fatalities, but people have been buried, and helicopter rescues have been required,” added Henry.
Here at PlanetSKI we will be updating this article so do check back.