The Tignes Avalanche – Monday 13th February 2017

This post isn’t going to have its usual light hearted feel I’m afraid. This past Monday wasn’t fun.

The reality of the mountains is that they are a dangerous place. While we’re all socializing, sunbathing and gliding down beautiful pristine white slopes – it’s easy to forget

We didn’t forget this Monday. On on a bright blue bird day, the first full day of the half term week as families set out together, the lives of 4 we’re taken by an avalanche.

I left work around 12:00 buzzing to catch up with everyone who’d gone out before me. Before I left I gave them a call. They were at the top of Toviere (the run next to where the avalanche happened) about to board down to meet our friends who worked at a ski shop at the bottom of the run.

Trying to be cool and boarding for once, they hung up on me and said they would call me back once they got to the bottom because they needed to focus. Twenty minutes later it wasn’t the phone call I was expecting. An avalanche had hit behind the ski shop. They arrived to find the whole staff running out with probes and transceiver  anything to help. With a survival time of roughing 15 minutes no one was joking. It had fallen into a man built bowl, built to protect the town of avalanches. It was just bad luck that they were crossing the slope when it hit  burying them under five metres plus of snow. There were no survivors.

It hit the resort hard. It hit us hard.

Once hearing of news we immediately rang around all of our friends to make sure it wasn’t them who got caught. It turned out a of our friends and colleagues got straight in and helped with the rescue mission, spending the two hours digging and watching as bodies were found. They weren’t pleasant secenes. One out of the bunch we couldn’t reach. In the end it turns out he was a part of the rescue mission to (you have to turn off your phone to not mess with the transceiver signals) but for those two hours while we all waited at the side watching it unfold weren’t funny. If that was even a glimpse of what the friends and families of those taken were and are still going through, my thoughts and prayers go out to you.

There was an odd turn to the day when one of Tom’s pictures got on sent in to the BBC. They kept calling him all day trying to get insights into what happened but we stayed quiet. If you take a look you can see how horrifying the whole thing was. Until you live in a resort and it directly impacts you, you just imaging them to be fluffy snow waves. Even a “safe” 3/5 on the avalanche scale doesn’t promise safety. The reality isn’t quite that nice. Only a few days before some of our friends felt like heros skiing fearlessly into some minor off piste routes without any equipment. They saw a reality that Monday.

So go equipped and stay safe out there people.

My thoughts go out to the friends and families of those involved.

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