Inquest Hears How British skier Died Off-piste in Chamonix

34-years-old Michael Rowell from Hampshire slipped and fell on to rocks while skiing with a friend. The coroner at Winchester, Jason Pegg, said he ‘simply misjudged the area’ before slipping.

He was said to be an experienced skier and was with a friend, Niall Jones, last March on the first day of their ski holiday.

The pair decided to ski off-piste between a black and a red run.

They realised it was not safe and stopped, intending to retrace their route.

“There were lots of previous ski tracks so we knew it had been traversed by others,” Niall Jones told the inquest.

“We were skiing along with only 10-20 metres between us.

“At about 10.50am we reached a point without any ski tracks.

“Mike went forwards to see if there was a route to ski down.

“He shouted back to me that there was no route, so I took off my skis and started walking back up the hill to where we had last seen tracks.

“There was no direct line of sight between us because of the terrain, so I shouted down to him to see where he was.

“There was no response so I phoned him but there was still no response.

“My initial thought was that he had skied down.”

He then called the mountain rescue who found his body.

They found his cracked helmet 50m below where his body was discovered.

It is thought he died instantly.

“It seems Mike needed to remove his skis to make his way up the mountain … and sadly he slipped down that area over an edge and tumbled on to the snow-covered rocks below,” said the coroner.

A verdict of accidental death was recorded with the coroner saying the death has been “desperately tragic”.


There has been some reaction from readers on the PlanetSKI Facebook page:

Elaine Kent – So sad 😞 But for the grace of god go many ‘who follow tracks’

Jane McGarry – Very sorry and deepest of sympathies. However for others it’s important to know that taking off your skis is the worst idea ever… just sidestep back up even if it takes forever.
Suzi Jones – reminds us of the experience and knowledge to deploy when off piste – very sad.

Image c/o PlanetSKI