Two skiers triggered an immense avalanche on the Mölltaler Glacier in Austria on Friday the second of January. The avalanche was triggered just below the Schareckspitze and was several hundred meters wide and hundreds of meters long. Twelve people who were riding in the off-piste were dragged along by the avalanche. One person was completely buried, the other eleven were partially buried of which most could free themselves.
Immediately after the avalanche there a huge rescue operation started involving several helicopters and rescue services (police, fire departement and mountain rescue). All of the twelve victims were rescued alive from the snow masses. Partly on their own, partly by bystanders and rescue services. In the beginning it was not clear how many people were caught by the avalanche, so it lasted until 15:30 until they knew that no one was missing anymore.
It was avalanche danger 3 on Friday on the Mölltaler Glacier. The strong winds of the past few days with a few centimeters of fresh snow have caused a lot of drift snow.
Besides fresh drift snow, the time of the air temperature also had a negative influence on the snow cover. That this avalanche was caused by people is, moreover, pretty common. More than 90% of the for riders deadly avalanches are triggered by the riders themselves.
The snowcover is still unstable
With the recent snowfall, the strong winds and the old sugar snowlayers, the avalanche situation isn't that good. This will get even worse when the temperatures will go up. Watch out the next couple of days. We warned you before for a very unstable snowcover. The weight of a single skier or boarder is sufficient to break the snowcover and trigger an avalanche. Going off-piste thus requires a lot of knowledge the next couple of days. Even more than in a 'normal' situation. If you don't have that knowledge, or when you don't trust your own decisions, please hire a ski and mountain guide, or stay on the slopes!
If you go off piste, always carry an avalanche transceiver, shovel and probe with you. In addition, make sure you know your local avalanche bulletin and adapt your plans to it. Think three times before you follow other tracks and do not ride a line because others are already riding it. The situation at the moment is really dangerous! Winter is still young. What you can't ride today, you'll probably can later in the season. Be patient!