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Old 19.02.2019, 20:59
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Avalanche at Crans-Montana

Sad news from the exclusive Swiss ski resort of Crans-Montana: an avalanche has reportedly buried up to 12 skiers.

Shockingly, it appears that the avalanche may have occurred on a marked piste, and the avalanche warning system was set at 2 (out of 5).

I hope the rescuers dig everyone out safely.
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Old 19.02.2019, 21:23
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Re: Avalanche at Crans Montana

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Sad news from the exclusive Swiss ski resort of Crans-Montana: an avalanche has reportedly buried up to 12 skiers.

Shockingly, it appears that the avalanche may have occurred on a marked piste, and the avalanche warning system was set at 2 (out of 5).

I hope the rescuers dig everyone out safely.
My son and his family are up there at the moment; he says the avalanche has come down across a black piste, it seems it's a very rocky area and the theory at the moment is recent sunshine heated one of the rockfaces, water then got between the rock's surface and the packed snow... causing the snow to slip.
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Old 19.02.2019, 21:44
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Re: Avalanche at Crans Montana

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My son and his family are up there at the moment; he says the avalanche has come down across a black piste, it seems it's a very rocky area and the theory at the moment is recent sunshine heated one of the rockfaces, water then got between the rock's surface and the packed snow... causing the snow to slip.
Yes, there have been a lot like that here in the past couple of days too. More typical of spring conditions, with a deep snowpack having been warmed by full sun on the rocks over several days.

These wet snow avalanches tend to be relatively slow (but still potentially faster than a person) but can be very destructive.

It seems from updated reports (use original link) that four people were injured and up to 12 "involved", and that no-one is known to be buried, so it doesn't look quite as bad as 22Y's initial impression.
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Old 19.02.2019, 22:12
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Re: Avalanche at Crans Montana

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My son and his family are up there at the moment; he says the avalanche has come down across a black piste, it seems it's a very rocky area and the theory at the moment is recent sunshine heated one of the rockfaces, water then got between the rock's surface and the packed snow... causing the snow to slip.
I'm glad that your son and his family are safe (I gather)!

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Yes, there have been a lot like that here in the past couple of days too. More typical of spring conditions, with a deep snowpack having been warmed by full sun on the rocks over several days.

These wet snow avalanches tend to be relatively slow (but still potentially faster than a person) but can be very destructive.

It seems from updated reports (use original link) that four people were injured and up to 12 "involved", and that no-one is known to be buried, so it doesn't look quite as bad as 22Y's initial impression.
Happy to see that the original report has been updated with a more positive prognosis—although the essential suppositions have actually been confirmed now (up to 12 buried, occurred on a marked piste, avalanche warning at Level 2 only). Again, hopefully we'll end up with the relatively happy news that everyone is out, alive and safe.
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Old 19.02.2019, 22:18
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Re: Avalanche at Crans Montana

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I'm glad that your son and his family are safe (I gather)!


Happy to see that the original report has been updated with a more positive prognosis—although the essential suppositions have actually been confirmed now (up to 12 buried, occurred on a marked piste, avalanche warning at Level 2 only). Again, hopefully we'll end up with the relatively happy news that everyone is out, alive and safe.
Level 2 is MODERATE, however it applies to off piste, if a run on a resort is open it should have been made safe by the piste patrol inducing avalanches.
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Old 19.02.2019, 22:47
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Re: Avalanche at Crans Montana

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Level 2 is MODERATE, however it applies to off piste, if a run on a resort is open it should have been made safe by the piste patrol inducing avalanches.
To put that in perspective and give it a little more clarity, the lowest level avalanche warning (1) is LOW—not "NO RISK". Level 2 (LOW) is defined as follows:

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Mostly favourable avalanche situation

Warning signs can occur in isolated cases. Avalanches can be triggered in particular on very steep slopes with the aspect and elevation indicated in the avalanche bulletin. Relatively large natural avalanches are not to be expected.
Surprisingly, about 30% of backcountry (off piste) skier deaths due to avalanches occur during Level 2 warning periods (and only 1% at Level 5), which rather suggests that Level 2 is over-used and the risks are understated.
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Old 19.02.2019, 22:58
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Re: Avalanche at Crans Montana

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Surprisingly, about 30% of backcountry (off piste) skier deaths due to avalanches occur during Level 2 warning periods (and only 1% at Level 5), which rather suggests that Level 2 is over-used and the risks are understated.
Not really, what it shows is that many people, despite very clear communication about what the levels mean, just assume that level 2 means they don't need to worry about anything, so go into areas without any attempt to assess the actual risk and without taking basic precautions (or indeed, without the knowledge and experience needed to do so).

It's not the case that more avalanches occur at level 2, but simply that many more people put themselves at risk.

Anyway, it's a bit of a moot point here, as FMF has already said.
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Old 19.02.2019, 23:20
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Re: Avalanche at Crans Montana

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Not really, what it shows is that many people, despite very clear communication about what the levels mean, just assume that level 2 means they don't need to worry about anything, so go into areas without any attempt to assess the actual risk and without taking basic precautions (or indeed, without the knowledge and experience needed to do so).

It's not the case that more avalanches occur at level 2, but simply that many more people put themselves at risk.
That's my point: that even Level 1 implies some risk, but many (most?) people overlook the risk. I suggest that the levels and their descriptions should be amended. One wouldn't expect nearly a third of fatalities to occur when the risk of avalanche is assessed at "2/5", "low", or "mostly favourable". In fact, if "Level 2/Low" were replaced by "30% of avalanche fatalities occur under these conditions" [and 50% at the current "Level 3"], people might be a little more circumspect and respectful of the risk off piste.

But yes, it's a little off topic, as skiers ought to expect safe skiing on piste.
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Old 19.02.2019, 23:51
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Re: Avalanche at Crans Montana

The video in the URL below seems to show the intensity and speed of the avalanche today at Crans Montana.

https://twitter.com/aspide_l/status/1097974075320909824


Really pray and hope that everyone buried underneath gets rescued safely.
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Old 20.02.2019, 08:38
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Re: Avalanche at Crans Montana

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The video in the URL below seems to show the intensity and speed of the avalanche today at Crans Montana.

https://twitter.com/aspide_l/status/1097974075320909824


Really pray and hope that everyone buried underneath gets rescued safely.
The video seems to have been deleted, but has been uploaded by another Twitter user.

https://twitter.com/i/status/1098089729558544384
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Old 20.02.2019, 10:02
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Re: Avalanche at Crans Montana

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The video seems to have been deleted, but has been uploaded by another Twitter user.

https://twitter.com/i/status/1098089729558544384
Couldn't the guy have skied backwards so we could get a decent view of the avalanche?

On a serious (but relieved) note, reports suggest that nobody was killed (although it seems there is no definite statement yet!). The number of casualties remain four injured (one seriously). I hope they all recover completely.

Last edited by 22 yards; 20.02.2019 at 10:45.
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Old 20.02.2019, 13:05
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Re: Avalanche at Crans-Montana

Just seen a report on bluewin.ch one dead from injuries suffered in the avalanche. Also on the Beeb.

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-47297445
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Old 20.02.2019, 13:19
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Re: Avalanche at Crans-Montana

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Just seen a report on bluewin.ch one dead from injuries suffered in the avalanche. Also on the Beeb.

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-47297445
Very sad. I'm sorry to hear that. This tragedy hits home for me, as I was skiing in the region (though not at Crans-Montana) last weekend, and was tossing up between Crans-Montana and Glacier 3000/Les Diablerets for the school holidays next week. A good friend skied at Crans-Montana on Monday.

This could happen to anyone. It reminds us of our fragile mortality.
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Old 20.02.2019, 16:43
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Re: Avalanche at Crans-Montana

Very sad news indeed.

I was skiing last Friday at Champery and we also saw a (much smaller) avalanche over one of the (fairly busy) slopes. Doesn't look anywhere near as scary but even at this size I wouldn't have wanted to be at the receiving end

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Old 20.02.2019, 16:53
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Re: Avalanche at Crans-Montana

We were there Saturday, a couple wknds in a row and the weather was so nice that it certainly makes one forget the deadly danger of the mountains . Will not go again this season, I don't think, it just gets too packed. Hope the rest of the skiers will be alright, and really sad for the one who did not make it.
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Old 20.02.2019, 18:32
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Re: Avalanche at Crans Montana

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That's my point: that even Level 1 implies some risk, but many (most?) people overlook the risk. I suggest that the levels and their descriptions should be amended. One wouldn't expect nearly a third of fatalities to occur when the risk of avalanche is assessed at "2/5", "low", or "mostly favourable". In fact, if "Level 2/Low" were replaced by "30% of avalanche fatalities occur under these conditions" [and 50% at the current "Level 3"], people might be a little more circumspect and respectful of the risk off piste.

But yes, it's a little off topic, as skiers ought to expect safe skiing on piste.
As far as off piste skiing is concerned, 70% of avalanches involve wind blown snow, the slope is loaded & under tension on a convex slope. This wind blown snow it's often the 'best' snow on the mountain which is the issue because people actively want to ski it. When it's hot like now the biggest danger is on south facing slopes above 30 degrees, in the afternoon. If the base is grass it's far more likely to slide all the way to the ground as the snow gets water logged, if the base is rough rock then the snow grips far better.

You should expect Avalanche safety on piste 99.9% of the time if the run is OPEN, if it's closed it's potentially very dangerous, ski instructors are not aloud to ski with a group on a closed run..

Off Piste Skiing
As far as being rescued, if you are dug out within 15 minutes you have about an 85% change of survival, after 30 minutes it's under 50%. Always wear a transceiver & carry a shovel & probe, know how to use your kit. You need to be saved by the people you are skiing with, by the time the rescue services arrive it will usually be too late.
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