World Champion Mountaineer Amongst 3 Dead in Italian Avalanche

Julia Schneemann | | AvalancheAvalanche
Champion Mountaineer Lorenzo Holzknecht. | Picture: Il Giorno Sondrio Website

Three trainee mountain guides perished in an avalanche in the Italian Aosta Valley on Thursday, April, 13, 2023. The backcountry excursion with their coach on Thursday was the last step in their training program, before being certified as mountain guides. 

According to the local police, the avalanche broke off around 2 p.m. under the tip of the Goletta, at 10,660ft (3,250m), near the Col de la Tsanteleina, near the border with France. The steep slope broke away under their skis and collapsed downstream. The three trainees and their coach were descending the slope as it broke and the avalanche swept them away. The only survivor is the instructor of the course for mountain guides, Matteo Giglio, 49, a resident of Valle d’Aosta, who, managed to escape the brunt of the avalanche by floating on top of the snow, before also being partially buried. 

The three deceased mountaineers — all highly experienced skiers and riders. | Picture: Aosta Today Website

Instructor Matteo Giglio managed to free himself and skied down where he alerted authorities. The search for the missing three trainees was started but had to be abandoned Thursday evening has night fell. On Friday morning the Alpine Rescue of the Guardia di Finanza continued the difficult search for the missing mountaineers and the bodies of three were located and recovered. Doctors could only confirm their deaths. The bodies were brought by helicopter to Corrado Gex airport in Saint-Christophe (Aosta), Italy.

Amongst the deceased is 39-year-old ski mountaineering champion Lorenzo Holzknecht, who has won several European and World Championship titles in mountaineering and has competed all over the world, including at Crested Butte, CO. The International Ski Mountaineering Federation (ISMF) posted an obituary for Lorenzo, expressing their deepest condolences to the family and friends, and highlighted his many great achievements, such as winning the gold medal at 2010 ISMF World Championships, 2009 and 2012 European Championships. The other two deceased were named as 44-year-old Sandro Dublanc, an Italian snowboarding instructor, and 37-year-old Elia Meta.

The region has seen a slew of fatal avalanches this winter. Spring temperatures can be extremely dangerous as the melt can dissolve the crystals, causing dangerous wet slides. 

Rescue helicopter
A rescue helicopter on site in the Aosta Valley, Italy. Picture: Rai Uno Website



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