More Miraculous Avalanche Rescues in the Alps
1st February 2021
Last modified on April 5th, 2021
One man was rescued in Tignes after being buried for 4 and a half hours. In Switzerland a couple was buried and their dogs barked for help and attracted the attention of people nearby. Extreme caution is urged across many parts of the Alps after new snow falls on an unstable snowpack.
Last Thursday attention was focused on Val d’Isere after a family of snowshoe walkers was caught.
The 50-year old father of two was dug out alive after 2 hours and 40 minutes under the snow.
We reported on it at the time.
Later that evening in neighbouring Tignes it is reported a man had an equally miraculous escape.
Some say he was even more fortunate.
A huge natural avalanche came down across the Toviere sector at 7.10pm.
Under darkness and in poor weather the piste patrol carried out a search.
The visibility was described as “very bad”.
Later that night at 11.45 the director of the pistes in Tignes, Frederic Bonnevie, went back to the area as the weather had eased and he wanted to carry out a further inspection.
He heard a voice calling for help.
A 35-year old local man had been caught in the slide, but his face was above the snow so he was able to breath.
He had been entombed in the snow and avalanche debris, so was unable to move or dig himself out.
He had been buried for more than 4 and a half hours.
Frederic Bonnevie and another pisteur dug him out and gave him first aid at the scene.
The man was shaken but otherwise unharmed except for frostbite to his left ear.
The avalanche was 600m long and 200m wide. It had a vertical drop of 300m.
Frederic Bonnevie described it as a ‘miracle’.
Locals have praised the diligence and professionalism of the rescuers.
There has been reaction to the incident over on the PlanetSKI Facebook page, including a comment from Frederic’s cousin:
In Switzerland two people were hiking near St Moritz on Saturday when they were hit by an avalanche.
They were swept off a hiking trail and buried.
Their dogs barked for help attracting the attention of nearby snow-shoers who were able to dig them out.
“Their dogs, who were not buried by the masses of snow, drew attention to themselves by barking loudly,” said the air ambulance service Rega.
“The dogs attracted the attention of a group of snow-shoers who were some distance away in the same valley but had not witnessed the avalanche.”
The snow-shoers arrived after 15-20 minutes to find one person was completely buried, and another had a hand above the snow.
They dug them out, the pair were suffering from shock and hypothermia.
They were flown by helicopter to a local hospital.
The avalanche danger remains at Level 3 (considerable) or Level 4 (high) across many parts of the Alps.
Much of the snow is on a very unstable base layer and extreme caution is urged by the authorities.
See the latest and updated snow conditions in our main snow and weather report: