An avalanche hit a family of four snowshoeing on the Chemins des Coves track of Val d’Isere, France. The family of four was not wearing transceivers on a level 4 of 5 danger day when a 200m long by 100m wide avalanche hit them. The mother and two teenagers were hit but not buried while the father was buried under the snow for 2 hours and 40 minutes in an air pocket next to a tree. The family was snowshoeing on a route known as the Avalanche Path.
The three family members initiated an emergency response and hundreds from the community came to join in on this heroic rescue. Search and Rescue, ski patrol, police, fire, mountain guides, ski intructors, and community members all came out to help.
The volunteers used probe lines and avalanche dogs to attempt to locate the 50-year-old man. On the first round, the probe line and avalanche dogs initially passed over the man. A police rescuer used a “Wolfhound” rescue device to locate a signal from the man’s phone where the man was found buried alive 1.5 meters deep on the road he was snowshoeing on. The Wolfhound is a new piece of rescue technology used by Gendarmerie rescue services that works similarly to a RECCO receiver.
The man admitted to Chambery hospital in a serious condition, heart rate of 38 bpm, CO2 level at 88%, and a broken hip. He is expected to make a full recovery. One of the two teenagers injured their knee and the other two escaped uninjured. The mayor of Val d’Isere and rescuers are calling the event a miracle.