On Saturday, a large group of people snow touring through the Austrian alps of Tyrol triggered an enormous avalanche. The group consisted of ten members- one on touring skis, one on snowshoes, and eight using splitboards- with an objective of reaching the Verwall Valley located slightly east of St Anton am Arlberg.
The avalanche released at approximately 12:30 pm on Saturday at an elevation of 3,000 meters in an area with poor cellular reception. The avalanche had a crown that spanned 600 to 800 meters wide and ran for 1000 meters. Four people from the group were caught and buried in the avalanche. With no other means of contacting authorities, the guide accompanying this group sent one of the uninjured members down the mountain in order to alert the town, which took 15 to 20 minutes of precious time.
“It was really a very big one. It measured 1000 meters and was 600 to 800 meters wide. You would not have a lot of chance to get out of that.”
-Spokeswoman for the Innsbruck Police
The team that aided in the rescue brought four helicopters in order to complete the mission. Once uncovered, three of the four victims were found in critical condition. One patient, a 22-year old Dutchman, was pronounced dead on scene while the other two patients were airlifted to a hospital. Of the two people sent to the hospital, a 40-year old man from Briton and an 18-year old man from the Netherlands, only one survived. The British man died from his injuries the following morning.
Due to the amount of snow, the amount of visitors, and the layout of ski resorts in the Alps, Europe tends to have more avalanche related deaths than any other place. Since late August, we have reported on ten avalanche related deaths in the Alps and the season has hardly kicked off. Snow is consistently flying across the northern hemisphere now so be aware, be prepared, and be smart in the mountains.