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Avalanche Accident Schwarzhorn, Switzerland


17.02.2012


"There were several signs that the run we were going to ski was unstable as we went up the Schwarzhorn lift. There were a number of avalanches visible that must have come down in the last 12 hours.

As we exited the lift and skied over, I felt the snow hollow out. The others decided to go straight in and ski the first gully. Me and 2 others slid down about 2 meters to the next shot. The sun was out and the sun exposure was considerable, but at this point myself and a skier were talking about how it didn't feel good. But for some unknown reason we decided to keep going.

There were already 2 tracks in the gully. As I skied into it, I saw a cut of a small snowdrift, nothing large from 1 to 1.5 m square. This too should have indicated not to continue. As I skied the first section, the snow felt stable and as I turned right, I heard the snow move around me.

At that point, I was pointing toward the wall of the gully and couldn't turn straight to try to get out of the avalanche. The next thing I knew, I felt a blow to my back and was face down in the snow. At that point I pulled my ABS when I felt I was under the snow, but that was maybe only 30 cm covered, it's hard to say exactly. After the point of pulling the ABS® my skis came off and I also let go of my poles, I never ski with the instep straps. I was now sliding down the hill on my front face upside down. It took me 100m or 150m from the top of the crest. Hard to tell what the elevation gain was.

I managed to get to my feet but found it hard to move in the snow as it was deep and soft and did not consolidate.

All of this could have been avoided if I had listened to signs that jumped out at me. I got carried away and made an incredibly bad decision. I have an ABS®, not to be able to drive more dangerous routes in unsafe conditions, but as a last resort. I've been riding off-piste for 10 years, and that day taught me many lessons that I will carry with me for the rest of my days in the backcountry. There is never any shame in turning back.

I will never be without an ABS® backpack!"

M.G.

Foto: Tegan Mierle

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