8 People Die in 4 Avalanches 1 Day in Switzerland:

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Rescue helicopters and rescue workers on duty after avalanche accident at the Piz Vilan mountain. Photograph: REGA / HANDOUT/EPA
Rescue helicopters and rescue workers on duty after the avalanche accident that killed 5 skiers at the Piz Vilan mountain in Switzerland on Saturday.  photo: rega/handout/epa

8 People died in 4 separate avalanches in 1 day Switzerland yesterday, Saturday, January 31st, 2015.  This brings the total avalanche deaths in Switzerland this winter to 17.  In the Alps this winter, there have been a staggering 49 avalanches deaths.  49 people have died in avalanches in the Alps this year and it’s only the start of February.

Avalanche danger was rated as “Considerable” (3 out of 5) in all the areas where these deadly avalanches occurred.

Details from all these avalanches are still coming in.  Here is what we know so far.

Map showing the location of every avalanche death in Switzerland this winter.
Map showing the location of every avalanche death in Switzerland this winter.


1.  5 skiers died in an avalanche in the PIz Vilan region of Switzerland on Saturday afternoon.  These 5 skiers were with a group of 9 skiers from Zurich when the avalanche struck.  7 of the 9 skiers were fully buried in the avalanche.  This avalanche struck on the Vilan mountain on a Northeast aspect at on a slope estimated to be 35º.  This avalanche occurred in a backcountry area.

2.  Two different freeriders were killed in two different avalanche in the Bern Alps of Switzerland.  One of these avalanches occurred on the Schilthoren mountain at 2380-meters on an East aspect on a slope estimated to be 31-35º.  The other avalanche occurred on the Luegli mountain at 2000-meters on a North aspect.  Both of these avalanches occurred in off-piste areas.

3.  One avalanche death in Wildhaus, Switzerland.  This avalanche occurred on the Hinderrugg mountain on a West aspect at 2270-meters on a slope estimaged to be 41-45º.  This avalanche occurred in an off-piste area.

4.  There were also two skiers caught in an avalanche in Verbier, Switzerland.  Both skiers survived with only minor injuries.


We will report more on these avalanches as more information becomes available.  This was one extremely horrible day in Switzerland.

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6 thoughts on “8 People Die in 4 Avalanches 1 Day in Switzerland:

  1. Back country and off piste are 2 different situations In Switzerland there is no ski area boundary so your safety is only guaranteed on the prepared runs unlike America where your safety is in the open areas of the ski area boundary A lot of avalanches in S
    witzerland are triggered in the areas in between the pistes where the steepest potion of the slope is over 28 degees even though one might be skiing in under that steepness especially when the danger level is 3 or considerable which is the cut off level for leaving the piste

  2. not sure the conclusion is correct. it was a dangerous day for backcountry skiing would be more accurate. I’m certain it was an awesome day for a million other skiers in the Alps. go figure.

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