Avalanche Kills Skier in Italian Alps | Patrol Rescue Man Buried by Avalanche Inbounds in Val Thorens, France

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Col Pillonet. Credit: camptocamp

Italian news outlet ANSA is reporting that an avalanche in the Italian Alps buried and killed a skier over the weekend, but his girlfriend survived the snow slide.

Francois Lachere, a 53-year-old French ski mountaineer living in Alberville, Savoie was caught by a slab avalanche at the Col Pillonet at about 8,200-feet and buried under 6.5-feet of very compact snow. His companion, Veronique Salle was able to save herself and located him with an avalanche beacon but due to the depth of burial was not able to recover Mr. Lachere before rescue services arrived, who were hampered by strong winds and low visibility.

Mrs. Salle told rescuers that “Francois saw the avalanche first, he screamed to be careful, I was able to move while he was buried.”

The couple had set out from Cheneil in Valtournenche on an easy route. The director of the Aosta rescue services said they were about 500-feet below the col and the poor visibility meant they may not have seen the slide until it was too late. The avalanche risk was 3/5 for the area, a considerable risk but one that does not exclude ski touring if you are careful. The two ski mountaineers were described as “experts” and were “equipped with all the necessary technical material”. They had arrived in Italy the same morning and expected to spend the weekend in the region.

avalanche, val thorens, france
Boismint chairlift, Val Thorens. Credit: Val Thorens

In the French resort of Val Thorens, skiers on the Boismint chair witnessed a lone skier trigger a slab avalanche. Alerted by telephone, patrol was quickly on the scene where they found a debris measuring 60″. A probe search located the back of the victim who was entirely buried by the slide. Recovered unconscious and given oxygen it seems the victim had suffered no serious injuries but was taken for a checkup. The victim was not wearing an avalanche beacon and was fortunate to be recovered in time.

Winter returned to the Alps this weekend, with high winds and heavy snowfall closing a number of resorts.

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