Escaping an avalanche on Christmas Eve

I had one of those experiences on Christmas Eve that was a reminder that there is always a significant risk when you go off piste.

me skiing (not taken near the avalanche - was a bit too preoccupied to take pics then)

Two of us were out skiing in Tignes, taking a pretty cautious route when the mountain started shifting beneath us. We pelted for safety, the huge slab of snow beneath also picking up speed until it felt more like flying than skiing. The snow caught up with me, bowled me over and I deployed the air bags in my ABS rucksack.

Fortunately, I’d picked a good route down the mountain, which avoided the full brunt of the avalanche and I was able to wriggle out. There were two other guys who’d been skiing nearby and one got caught by the avalanche and was completely immobilised. He only had his head and an arm free but I managed to get him out with my snow shovel.

It was a pretty sobering experience, particularly in light of the three people who died in an avalanche in Les Arcs at the weekend, one of whom was a very experienced local guide. They were located because they had bleepers but they were buried under an unbelievable 9 metres of snow.

Snow conditions have got very unstable in the last week with the temperature yo-yoing all over the place – it’s snowing like crazy now and they’ve been constantly blasting the avalanche risk areas.

Posted by Chris

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