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CAUTION URGED OFF PISTE - James Cove, PlanetSKI Editor
Wednesday December 26, 2018 - Email this article to a friend

Five people have been caught in an avalanche in Zermatt. There's been some wild weather across the Alps, but it's now settled.



There is a Level 3 avalanche risk across parts of the Alps, though the weather is now mostly mild and sunny.

This means the risk is ‘considerable' and it is the level at which most accidents happen.

On Wednesday, a 12-year-old boy was caught in an avalanche in La Plagne.

He survived, despite a lengthy burial.

We have reported the incident in a separate main story on PlanetSKI.

On Thursday 5 skiers were caught in an avalanche in Zermatt. Again there was a Level 3 risk.

They were skiing off piste in the Hohtalli area of the resort.

Four were partially buried and managed to dig themselves out and raise the alarm.

A fifth was completely buried and was rescued by the emergency services.

The victim was flown by helicopter to Visp and is said to be shaken, but not seriously injured.

If people ski outside the marked areas the authorities are urging them to exercise extreme caution and to carry all the correct safety equipment.

The pictures of the accident come from Air Zermatt.

Zermatt avalancheZermatt avalanche































Zermatt avalancheZermatt avalanche











 















Zermatt avalancheZermatt avalanche



























Zermatt avalancheZermatt avalanche






















 

It follows an avalanche in Les Arcs on Christmas Day which buried a skier.

The location of the slide was near the Grand Col chairlift, traversing skier's left towards a popular off-piste zone.

The avalanche debris fanned out and the skier was dug out fairly quickly by the resort rescue services without any major injury.

The unstable snow has seen some rail services have been disrupted, particularly in the southeastern part of Switzerland.

In Switzerland the risk has been on 4 in places over the Xmas period - that means there is a ‘high' risk of avalanches.

On Wednesday it was reduced to 3 across most of the Swiss Alps.

Avalanche danger in SwitzerlandAvalanche danger in Switzerland, Wednesday 26th



























And on Thursday the area of 'considerable' risk was reduced further.

Avalanche danger in Switzerland, Thursday 27th Avalanche danger in Switzerland, Thursday 27th

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The risk is greatest at heights between 2,000 and 2,400 metres where snowfall was also mixed with rain.

Skiers are being warned not to venture off-piste in case they trigger an avalanche.

Meanwhile the weather has now settled.

It was a good day at altitude across some parts of the Alps on Christmas Day.

It followed some fairly wild weather - hurricane force winds were recorded in Switzerland.

Over 1m fell in places, but lower down it was torrential rain.

In many resorts the slopes are icy due to the warm temperatures in the day and then the drop at night.

PlanetSKI reader, Simon Wilson is in La Plagne, France.

"The pistes have survived the rain amazingly well. We've had two great days already in bright sun piste-bashing the mountain from top to pretty much bottom - right down to Montalbert today which was skiing fine with lots of artificial snow on the piste," said Simon.

"The upper pistes are nice and crunchy - some icy spots below 2000m but all perfectly skiable. Barely seen a rock or stone."

"The glacier has opened up in the last couple of days - though obviously the news of the family caught up in an avalanche on one of the closed black pistes has been somewhat sobering.

"Anyway, all in all it's proving very enjoyable here. It's 40 years since I first skied in La Plagne and have certainly seen it a lot worse than this at this time of year....."

In many resorts in France the freeze level is around 2,500m.

"After three days of high winds and poor visibility the clouds parted in time for a fantastic fireworks display on Christmas Eve," said PlanetSKI reader, Michael Pettifer, who is in Avoriaz. France.

He runs the ski insurance specialist, MPI Brokers.

The resort lies at 2,000m.

And on Xmas Day itself?

"The weather was sunny and cold all day; pistes were hardpacked, icy in places particularly early morning improving as the sun warmed the snow," said Michael.

"Off piste a light dusting of fresh snow on a hard base gave for good off piste skiing all day. More of the same forecast for several days. Avalanche risk was 3," added Michael.

Avoriaz, FranceAvoriaz, France



























The lines in the snow you can make out behind the skier show where all the rain has drained off the slopes.

Conditions on Xmas Day were better at altitude.

The image below comes from our friend Rob Rees at Inside Out Skiing who has been in Les Arcs over Xmas.

Paradiski, FranceParadiski, France

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The avalanche risk is also 3.

Level 3 in ParadiskiLevel 3 in Paradiski























Here at PlanetSKI we will be updating this article with reports from around the mountains so do check back...

For the Spirit of the Mountains - PlanetSKI: Number One for ski news

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