Avalanche at the Mont Blanc

By Haas on 17 October 2016 · 5

Like Morris said in his article about the avalanche that claimed one life in Hintertux yesterday: lots of snow came down, the mountains are getting in shape for winter and people started touring. It also means that you have to be careful in the mountains. Snow safety is key when you venture in the backcountry. Check out the video below from the Mont Blanc massid and more exactly in the region of the Petit Flambeau. This is a big avalanche, fortunately without any consequences, but it's impressive to see. Be careful when you're skiing or snowboarding off-piste. Go out with the right gear and the right knowledge and take it easy, the season has only just begun.


  • Chester_Tartsnatcher
    Chester_Tartsnatcher op 17 October 2016 · 17:02
    The timing of the fracture is so wild; the skier had stomped the skicut and stopped. Only after the skier stopped and was kind of stepping around on the edge did it start to actually slide. That was a well executed skicut, right on the convexity. I'm amazed by the time lag.
  • oday
    oday op 17 October 2016 · 21:21
    Pretty large slope to be ski cutting with the added high consequence of being caught, dragged into the crevasse and then buried. Given the audible "crack" and the minimal ski penatration it looks like a hard slab with some lower density snow on top.
  • Arjen
    Arjen op 17 October 2016 · 21:52
    If he did all it on purpose and fully aware of the conditions, than it's a perfectly executed ski cut. But I wouldn't risk to perform such a ski cut. The risk of getting dragged just seems to high. You have to hit the sweetspot, right on the convex. Too low and you're fucked. Too high and nothing happens and you might think the slope is safe.
    One day, they'll invent synthetic powder, ban all kinds of work and give you a free liftpass...
  • Chester_Tartsnatcher
    Chester_Tartsnatcher op 18 October 2016 · 22:45
    I'm assuming it was an intentional ski cut. I can't be sure I would have done better.

    I'm very, very conservative in general when skiing, but I also think there's value in not judging the actions of others.

    There are a number of people I don't tour with anymore because I think they're unsafe, but that was from a first hand experience. I think it's too easy to judge events online, so I try to keep that to myself.
  • meteomorris
    meteomorris op 19 October 2016 · 07:54
    I'm very, very conservative in general when skiing, but I also think there's value in not judging the actions of others. Chester_Tartsnatcher op 18 Oct 2016 22:45

    @Chester_Tartsnatcher I agree with you. It is always hard to judge events when you weren't part at the scene.

    Like @oday is saying it looks like a hard slab and I assume most of us have learned that slope cuts for hard or deep slabs are much more tricky because they tend to bridge your weight over a wider area and it's much more difficult for a person to trigger the buried weak layer. But once triggered, they tend to be much larger than soft slabs and they're difficult to escape because you must negotiate large, hard blocks.

    In a growing number of online movies I see a trend that even novice backcountry (no backpacks, probably no beacon) riders are executing slope cuts which may give them a false sense of security. Like @Chester_Tartsnatcher is saying it is hard to judge online, but I do have the impression that I see more cuts than I saw in the past. And this is something that worries me. Do they have the knowledge? Or are they just copy cats?

    Still, for an expert, as a defensive technique, slope cuts on hard or deep slabs are better than nothing.
    But let's keep in mind that is still the start of a new season. The snow pack is thin, the sun doesn't get into most north faces anymore, weak layers are present and we had a lot of wind last week. Let us be better safe than sorry.
    May the powder be with you.


You need to be logged in to post a comment in this topic. Login or create an account.

Upgrade to wepowder Pro

  • Extended 14 day forecast
  • Slope angle and exposition terrain layers
  • Inspirational freeride routes
wePowder Pro