Jones Snowboards freeride champion Luca Pandolfi was killed by an avalanche yesterday while splitboarding in the Gran Valley San Bernardo in Valle d’Aosta, Italy.
The 47-year-old snowboarder was with his unharmed business partner. There was a separate party of three backcountry skiers in the vicinity who were also unharmed.
Pandolfi, a highly experienced mountaineer, and snowboarder descended along Flassin gully at 6,100-feet on his splitboard when the avalanche hit him at around 2 pm. Valle d’Aosta Alpine Rescue guides arrived within a few minutes of an emergency call, but there was nothing they could do for Luca. His friend, who remained unharmed, was in shock. In the same gully but on a different slope, another group of ski mountaineers was not swept away by the avalanche.
The incident is being investigated by the mountain rescue soldiers of the Guardia di Finanza of Entrèves, who will have to reconstruct what happened. From initial investigations, it seems that Pandolfi, shortly after starting the descent, cut a wind plate that overwhelmed him by giving way.
Pandolfi, who has made extreme descents worldwide, was living in Chamonix, France, under the shadow of Mont Blanc at the time. Pandolfi loved the Aosta Valley mountains and was always looking for extreme lines, steep descents to tackle.