Miracle Under the Snow
28th January 2021
Last modified on May 20th, 2021
A 50-year old man out walking in the snow with his family in Val d’Isere was dug out after 2 hours and 40 minutes under the snow after an avalanche hit the group. He was located by the signal from his mobile phone.
The family group of father, mother and two children was going for a walk with snow shoes along the Chemins des Coves track in the La Daille area of the French resort.
The route is also known as The Avalanche Path.
At around 1 o’clock they were hit by a huge avalanche that had naturally released above them after the recent heavy snow.
It was 200m long and 100m wide.
The mother and two children were quickly found but the father was missing.
None of the family was wearing transceivers.
We posted first news earlier in this article on PlanetSKI.
Hundreds of people from the surrounding area turned out to help in the probe search – police, ski instructors, ski patrollers, mountain guides, firefighters and others trained in search techniques.
Avalanche dogs were also brought in to help in the search for the man.
The searchers kept going and one of the police rescuers with a so-called ‘Wolfhound’ device detected the man’s mobile phone signal.
Normally a person lasts up to 20 minutes if they are lucky under the snow, but the man in question was trapped in an air pocket at the base of a tree.
“I think it’s a miracle,” Alexandre Grether from the PGHM rescue team told the France 3 local news channel.
“He was protected by a tree and that’s what prevented him from being crushed by all the ice that slid down.
“The snow had surrounded him, but he had a pocket of air,” he added.
One of the searchers was our good friend, the off piste ski specialist, Henry Schniewind who lives in Val d’Isere.
He has posted here of his involvement.
Henry also shot this video from the scene as the man was found:
The avalanche risk was 4 on a scale of 5 after heavy overnight snow.
There are some questions about why the family was out in such a place and in such conditions.
The snow continued through the afternoon and the avalanche risk in the area has now been raised to Level 5.
The 50-year old man, whose nationality and name have not been released, was taken to Chambery hospital where his condition was described as “serious” on Thursday.
Of the rest of the family, one of the teenage children had an injured knee; the other 2 members of the family were unhurt but very shaken.
The Mayor of Val d’Isere said, “found alive after more than two hours in the snow, it’s a miracle”.