Sunday, 16 December 2012
A snowboarder was killed today in the French resort of Risoul in the Haute Alpes region. He was boarding off-piste at around 2400m altitude when a slab avalanche released, burying him completely.
The boarder was riding in an area that was easily accessible from lifts, and that finishes re-joining the pistes lower in the resort. The slab released was reportedly 200m wide, up to 1m deep, and ran for 500m. The boarder was not found for 90 minutes as he was not wearing an avalanche transceiver. Rescuers probing the area eventually found him.
Comment: The boarder was found at a depth of 2.5m, and hence would probably have died even if he had been wearing a transceiver. However, to venture off-piste without full safety kit is foolish. The fact that the area was easily accessed from lifts is also irrelevant - off-piste is off-piste. As soon as you leave the groomed runs you must be fully prepared and responsible for your decisions. We currently enjoy a privilege in Europe to go off-piste without fear of having our ski-pass confiscated. It is not the same in many other parts of the world. However, if people continue to treat the off-piste with such disrepect we may see much stronger controls on our freedom.