This past week, at least seven rescue missions have been launched in the Isere and Haute-Savoie mountains of France. So far, a series of avalanches in the area have claimed five lives and injured others. Sebastian Rigaud, spokesman for the mountain police in Grenoble, has warned skiers to stay off the mountains for the next few days. On Monday, Rigaud commented on the unusually treacherous day: “I don’t remember a day like it…where we’ve flown so many rescue missions in so short a time”.
On Monday, a 45-year-old man from Grenoble was killed while ski touring in the Taillefer range in the combe des Ramays. One of his friends suffered from mild hypothermia, cuts and bruises, and had to be rescued by helicopter. There were several other deaths throughout this week as well.
The most serious avalanche incident so far was in the Haute Savoie in the Vallon de Bérard. A group of five skiers were preparing to ski down from col de l’Ancrenaz above Vallorcine when the first three skiers were taken by a large avalanche. The victims, two men and a woman in their 50s, were buried and killed by the slide. A group of four skiers triggered a large slab avalanche under the Pointe des Verts above Grand-Bornand. One of the skiers was caught by the slide. The rescue services attended the avalanche and checked the debris. It appears the skier escaped without injury.
Most of the avalanches in that area were caused by warming temperatures mixed with fresh snow and strong winds.