38-year old British Man Dies in Avalanche in Verbier
16th January 2021
Last modified on May 20th, 2021
He is the latest in a string of separate avalanche deaths across Switzerland after recent snow. Seven people have died in four days. 10 people were caught in the latest accident. A man died in Tignes in France on Saturday and it follows a fatality in Courchevel earlier last week. Extreme caution is urged in many parts of the Alps.
The accident happened at 10.20 on Monday morning off piste beneath the main Attelas lift outside the marked Verbier ski area.
It is a well-known area for off piste skiing as it is easily accessible and the surrounding terrain is often the first fresh snow that gets skied.
The avalanche risk at the time was 3 on a scale of 5, meaning there was “considerable” danger.
A skier entered the sector and a slab broke away carrying the person down the slope.
A second person beneath was caught in the slide.
The avalanche then hit eight other skiers lower down the mountain.
Several helicopters, rescuers and avalanche dog handlers were on the scene swiftly and all the people were dug out.
It is reported by police that they all had avalanche transceivers and the correct safety equipment.
One man was pronounced dead at the scene.
Another was taken by helicopter to Sion hospital and is said to be in a serious condition.
The person who died has been identified as a 38-year old English man who lived in the resort.
Next-of-kin have been informed, but his identity has not been released.
A formal investigation is now under way.
The police are appealing for witnesses.
Ski resorts are closed across much of the Alps due to coronavirus restrictions, but they are allowed to open in Switzerland.
There has been significant amounts of snow in parts of the Alps in the last few days.
In Switzerland the danger level remains at Level 3, that means “considerable” for Tuesday.
In another incident in Switzerland three off piste skiers were hit in the Bernese Oberland near the resort of Gstaad.
One was under the snow for some time.
The person was rescued but died in hospital.
The dead person has not been formally identified and the other two people were 20 and 22 years old.
They have been treated in hospital but are not reported to be in a serious condition.
Details of a fatality on Sunday have been released by the police in the Vaud canton.
Four people aged 19 -21 were skiing off piste in the Rochers de Naye region above the town of Veytaux.
At around 3:30 p.m. they triggered an avalanche.
Two of them were not buried and were able to dig out one of their companions.
They could not find the other person.
They had no transceivers or safety equipment and they raisid the alarm with passing skiers who alerted the rescue services.
The missing 19-year-old skier was eventually found by a search dog shortly before 7 p.m.
He was buried under several meters of snow.
He was taken to hospital by helicopter where he was pronounced dead.
The other person buried has also been treated in hospital but is not said to be in a serious condition.
Police say the other two are “shocked but unharmed”.
The accident happened at an altitude of 1,770m on a NW facing slops.
The avalanche risk was 3 on a scale of 5, meaning there was “considerable” danger.
An investigation is underway.
The Cantonal Police recommends skiers and snowboarders not to go off-piste, to respect safety instructions, not to leave marked trails and fr people to equip themselves with safety equipment.
“Caution is required by this situation,” said the police.
It is the latest fatality in the Alps.
Heavy snowfall has led to avalanches that killed three people in Switzerland on Saturday and led to several rescue operations.
One person died in Engleberg and another in Klosters.
There was another fatal avalanche in Emmetten on Friday.
Police said a 49-year-old skier was also killed in the ski area of Morschach in the canton of Schwyz when he was buried by an avalanche.
12 people have died in avalanches so far this season in Switzerland – 5 backcountry skiers and 7 off piste skiers.
There have been 68 avalanches involving people according to the Swiss Avalanche Institute in Davos.
89 people have been caught.
The authorities are urging caution as more snow falls.
In Tignes in France a skier in his 40s died on Saturday afternoon after being swept away in the Sache valley section of the ski area.
He was with three friends who survived – one was taken to hospital with frostbite but was otherwise unharmed.
Rescuers were alerted and were on the scene within minutes, but the victim could not be resuscitated and was pronounced dead at the scene.
An investigation is underway.
The accident happened at 2,600m in the Aiguille Percee massif.
There have been four avalanche incidents in the Savoie area of France alone, including another in Tignes and one in nearby La Plagne.
The avalanche risk was 4 on a scale of 5 after the recent heavy snow.
On Thursday the body of an Italian ski instructor was found in Courchevel under 1m of snow.
He went missing on Wednesday and lived in Brides-les-Bains down in the valley beneath the resort.
He was supposed to collect his son from a ski lesson, but never turned up so a search was instigated.
He was skiing on his own.
The Mayor of Courchevel, Jean-Yves Pachod, has expressed his support and condolences to the man’s family.
The authorities have said “the snow cover is particularly unstable at this time.”
The ski lifts remain closed in France, but some people are hiking up or cross-country skiing.
In the Swiss city of Zurich the public transport system ground to a halt on Friday as snow brought down trees and blocked access to three vehicle depots overnight.
Parts of the Goms valley on the border with Italy were cut off due to blocked roads.
In Austria many roads were also closed due to avalanche risk or fallen trees in the Tirol.
In the Vorarlberg region 7,400 households were without electricity.
The Austrian rail company OBB said train services were disrupted by snow.
Police in southwestern Germany said a 72-year-old woman died after a tree laden with snow fell on her while she was walking her dog near the Swiss border.
The woman’s son found her seriously injured and suffering from hypothermia, but she later died in hospital.
The dog was unharmed.
There has been heavy snow in some parts of the Alps as we have reported elsewhere on PlanetSKI.
The snow has eased but more is set to fall later in the weekend.