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CAUTION URGED OFF PISTE - James Cove, PlanetSKI Editor
Tuesday December 11, 2018 - Email this article to a friend

Further snow and winds are making conditions dangerous off piste. It comes after the death of a man in Italy & a series of avalanches.








The latest avalanche incident we have heard about was in Verbier in Switzerland.

Our good friend, the local snowboard instructor Kato Kim, has posted this image on Facebook.

Verbier, SwitzerlandVerbier, Switzerland




















"A cautionary reminder to Verbier friends," said Kato.

"This is a huge avalanche at the entrance to Stairway. It took out 3 people at the start of the traverse all the way down over the rocks."

"I think they are all ok, bruised and in shock. Helicopter picked them up."

"Although it's Level 2 today looks like rocky high up faces with not much snow cover and which were exposed to the strong winds and super cold temperatures last week are very unstable. "

There is risk of avalanches across many ski resorts in Switzerland.

"Considerable avalanche danger will be encountered in some regions," said the Swiss Avalanche Institute on Sunday.

Orange means 'considerable'Orange means 'considerable'














Last weekend a French couple was skiing off piste at 2,500m above the town of Chamois in the Aosta Valley in Italy.

The man was swept 70m to his death after he was hit by an avalanche.

He was found by rescuers 2m into the snow pack.

It is understood he is the first avalanche fatality of the 2018/19 season.

On Tuesday morning last week four people were swept away by two separate avalanches in the French resort of Val d'Isere, including a British seasonaire who was completely buried by the slide.

Fortunately no-one died.

The incident in which the Briton was involved happened as three skiers were in the off-piste area known as Banane in the Bellevarde sector.

Val d'Isere avalancheAvalanche in Bellevarde area - photo















According to reports, the seasonaire was equipped with an avalanche transceiver and was found and dug out by other skiers, suffering from a knee injury.

The avalanche is reported to have been about 500 metres long and 60 metres wide.

At around the same time, another skier set off an avalanche on the Tovière sector of Val-d'Isère and was buried up to his shoulders.

He was unhurt.

Our chief reporter Jane Peel has been skiing in Val d'Isere and Tignes on Tuesday:

There were also an avalanche in Val Thorens in Les3Vallees on Tuesday.

Three people in their 20s were caught in it but were not buried.

It is a stark reminder of the current conditions as clear skies have followed a big snowstorm.

Much of the fresh snow has fallen on relatively warm ground and no base has built up under 2,000m or so.

The storm at the weekend was also accompanied by high winds so wind blown snow has built up in places.

PlanetSKI reported on the storm from Les3Vallees.

The weather was ferocious at times with winds gusting up to 100kph.

Battered by the windBattered by the wind














The resorts of Val d'Isere and Tignes had an avalanche risk of 4 on Monday last week.

Although the risk reduced to 3 on Tuesday, that is still considerable, and it remains at 3.

Avalanche risk in Tignes, Wendesday 12thAvalanche risk in Tignes, Wednesday 12th

















Ski patrolWorking hard to keep the pistes safe in Tignes this week
















Many of the open resorts now have a risk of 3 on the scale of 5.

Skiers and snowboarder are also being warned about thin snow cover off piste with obstacles hidden just under the snow.

It is the first major storm of the winter and many more will be needed to cover all the rocks and provide a deep base.

However it is a start and for those heading off piste with knowledge, skills and the right equipment then the powder skiing season is underway.

Stay safe out there folks!

Off piste in Val d'Isere this weekOff piste in Val d'Isere this week
















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