Avalanche claims one life

Mon, 01. Feb. 2021

Three young freeskiers skied under a barrier at the Wasserngrat mountain restaurant before 3pm on Sunday, 17 January. They were skiing down a steep couloir on the wooded western mountainside towards Sagibode (Trom). The skiers triggered an avalanche, which buried them.

Three young freeskiers skied under a barrier at the Wasserngrat mountain restaurant before 3pm on Sunday, 17 January. They were skiing down a steep couloir on the wooded western mountainside towards Sagibode (Trom). The skiers triggered an avalanche, which buried them. One of the young men was only partially buried and could free himself. He was also able to free one of his companions and alerted the rescue services.

The alarm reached the Gstaad-Saanenland rescue station at 3.09pm. By 3.45pm, 20 rescuers were on the scene. Due to the risk of secondary avalanches, precautionary measures had to be taken. One person secured by the helicopter searched for the third person, who was still buried.

After locating the third person, two rescuers, again secured by the helicopter, recovered the lifeless body. The man, whose formal identification is still pending, died in hospital. The other two men, aged 20 and 22 only received minor injuries.

More than a dozen members of the Swiss Alpine Rescue were called in for the search, some of them with avalanche search dogs. Air-Glaciers and Rega personnel and several ambulance teams were also deployed. Mountain specialists from the Bern cantonal police are investigating the circumstances of the avalanche accident.

Chief of mountain rescue Ueli Grundisch has little sympathy for the irresponsible actions: “It’s simple-minded what happened there,” he comments and criticises the lack of respect for natural hazards, especially since the media and the relevant information portals had reported on the avalanche danger the days before.

BASED ON AVS/BLANCA BURRI

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