Avalanche in Austria Buries 14 Touring Skiers

Julia Schneemann | | AvalancheAvalanche
Austria avalanche
An avalanche warning sign in Austria. Picture: Puls 24 Twitter Account

A massive avalanche in Schruns, near the ski resort Montafon in Austria, swept away and buried 14 touring skiers on Saturday, March 11, 2023. The group of 18 German touring skiers had set out on a ski tour to Öfapass when a cornice above them at 7,218 ft (2,200m) gave way. The weather was not optimal, with light snowfalls, poor visibility, and increased avalanche danger. Luckily the entire group was well-equipped with airbags and avalanche equipment, contributing to their quick rescue.

Ten skiers were only partially buried and able to free themselves from the snow; four others were buried entirely. The four completely buried skiers were located quickly, thanks to tracking devices. The mountain rescue group Vandans came to their aid with 13 staff, mountain rescue Schruns-Schagguns with a further 13 members, and the alpine police with two officers.

Three of the touring skiers who had been buried in the avalanche had to be taken to hospital. The group was lucky no one was critical, as helicopters could not be used in the area due to fog and poor visibility. Rupert Pfefferkorn of the mountain rescue group Tschagguns warned, “If something worse had happened, the outcome could have been unthinkably bad.” The avalanche level is at 3 in Austria, and Pfefferkorn implores people to check the weather forecast before setting out.

Touring skiing
Gargellen near Montafon hosted the Tourenfest last weekend. Pictures from a guided tour illustrate the poor visibility in the area. | Picture: Montafon Facebook Page

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