Three men and two women were killed in two separate avalanches in the French Alps yesterday, local media is reporting.
Three backcountry skiers in a couloir leading to the Grande Ruine above the Adèle Planchard refuge in the community of Villar-d’Arêne in the Haute Alps, near La Grave, were carried over 1,300-feet by an avalanche triggered just below 12,500-feet at 10:30 am local time. Two climbers in the same region raised the alarm, and a platoon of the Briancon Gendarmerie was sent to the scene. They discovered the lifeless buried bodies of all three. Two were in their 20s, and the third was their high mountain guide.
On the same morning, a group of four ski tourers was caught in another avalanche in the valley of L’Oisans about 40-miles from the first avalanche. The group was ascending an ice gorge, with their skis strapped to their backs, when the avalanche was triggered from above by other skiers on a 45º slope. Two of them, a 54-year-old man and a 49-year-old woman, lost their lives, one instantly and one later in hospital. A third member suffered serious injuries to his arms, for which he was admitted to the emergency room, and a fourth was unharmed, reports the Grenoble prosecutor’s office. The two fatalities were well-known ski instructors from nearby l’Alpe d’Huez.
In both avalanches, a judicial investigation has been opened to determine the cause of the tragedies.
Of the five who died in the two fatal accidents, the authorities have confirmed so far that two of them were French natives.
In a third avalanche, in the Lavey Valley, three skier tourers, two guides, and a ski instructor were caught by a large natural avalanche near the Clos de l’âne. One of the skiers was taken to Grenoble University Hospital in a critical condition after suffering skull trauma.
The avalanche forecast for the day gave a yellow alert for avalanche risk. There had been considerable fresh snow, around thirty inches over four days, accompanied by high winds over the weekend.