SKIERS have been warned about the dangers of skiing off-piste after a series of accidents in the Alps that have seen 10 people killed – including eight in avalanches.
Two off-piste skiers died in the Queyras Massif on Saturday and a gendarme ski instructor was killed during a training exercise when he fell into a crevasse on Mont Blanc.
The deaths followed a week that saw four people killed by an avalanche at Crevoux in Hautes-Alpes and two at Tignes.
In Saturday’s accident a party of three skiers, a couple in their 50s and a 75-year-old friend, were swept away after a 30cm slab of snow broke off as they passed. All three were carried 600m downhill and buried under the snow. They had been wearing avalanche beacons and were quickly found – but the older man and the woman could not be revived.
The Hautes-Alpes prefecture has warned skiers to take care when skiing off-piste and on Saturday the avalanche risk in Pelvoux and Champsaur was said to be four on a scale of five, while on other massifs in the Alpes de Sud the risk is still standing today at 3/5.
Last Tuesday four Breton skiers were killed in an avalanche at Crévoux (Hautes-Alpes). Only their guide managed to escape. On Wednesday two skiers, a guide and a client, were swept 300m to their deaths in an avalanche at Tignes, Savoie.
On Thursday a cross-country skier died when he crashed into a tree.
Since the start of winter 22 people have been killed in France in avalanches – the same total as for the whole of last season.