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Avalanche deaths across the Alps
Wednesday December 10, 2008 - Email this article to a friend

The high levels of snow have already brought a number of deaths as people head off into the powder.

In Italy three people have been killed and three more in France. The first person to die in Switzerland was a snow boarder killed in Les Diablerets at the end of November.

A number of people have been buried but dug out, including a snowboarder in Alpe d’Huez, France and a skier in the Swiss resort of Verbier.

The Verbier incident we have already reported here.

In Austria, a British soldier died while on a training exercise and the fatality is being investigated by the local police.

Avalanche transceiver, shovel & probeAvalanche transceiver, shovel & probeOur resident expert, mountain guide Nick Parks, advises caution for anyone thinking of going off piste and to check local weather conditions and have the correct safety equipment of avalanche transceiver, shovel and probe.

“The high levels of snow are great news but we should be cautious,” he tells us. “It’s difficult to know at this stage how the stability of the snow pack will be this season, however as a rule of thumb winters that start with a shallow snowpack and prolonged cold temperatures have a less stable base than winters with a deep snowpack and milder weather”.

“Most avalanches occur not because the base fails but rather failures within layers in the snowpack”, he adds.

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