"Avalanche kid" (Chamonix uk dad rescue in the news recently).

Posted 3rd MarEdited by:"Mr_Gus"
After a few days of holey-reporting I finally saw a decent video piece (several minutes long) on the subject which I was a bit dubious of...

It happened just off a (mainly) cruisey blue run on Le Tour, where so many environmental warning signs were ignored (looking at the footage) as well as bad practise by the family & kids..


Basically, Dad had an Avi, transceiver maybe a probe & definitely a shovel. ALL GOOD.

But the whole scenario with the kid stuck not really in an avalanche by the true sense of the word, but in natural gulley sluff & settling snow, blown accrued wind lip snow on a sun baked crust (non compacted) was somewhat concerning because of the absence of walkie talkies. (from around £25 a pair) which if ski-ing close by as a group on the same piste assists the signal way beyond what mere shouting & waving can achieve.

The kid fell, panicked, & doubtless immediately shouted, ..his dad, mum, other kid were at & around the same level for signal transmission initially, ..they all ski-ed on...
Waited at the bottom for the "where is he"!? discussion, queued for the lift & had to do the run again... taking vital minutes (likely 20).

When you are under snow you have limited oxygen, breathing out Co2 is a problem in any confined space, heat from your body & breathing can cause melt & further slippage....(if there is further to fall).

IF you intend to "kit up" & you have kids, a walkie talkie apiece, (bit of tuition) radio checks at the beginning of the day as you would your Avi ....would have alerted the dad likely before he'd skied by or certainly within a minute or two of the kid stabilising himself (mentally / physically).

Please, buy walkies, they are great for clueing folks in when you've had a spill on / around the same run / area, for when you go off course (wrong turn) off piste etc etc...
Buy a jacket with a decent velcro & metal loop walkie pocket over the chest for easy access & to hear channel chatter ..stick it on a small karabiner (novelty type is fine) & a length of cord.

Fact is that this kid was likely wailing his lungs out, having gone off piste at Le tour on a gentle run (off piste is different) & without knowing how to read the fall-line & immediate environment.

We use them every day, to highlight run problems, kit breakages, lift problems, weather (problems) ..to help in first aid etc, & to say when we can see the straggler individually / as a group come into view so they don't overshoot at intersections etc.

Points for fitting a kid out with an expensive transceiver, ..but one more bit of kit the cheap old walkie-talkie is going to be used time & time again to sort out many problems before they happen, ..you cannot rely on mobile phones s please, buy a cheap non-pointy set of motorola's on European band for Euro travel.

Being in a club didn't make that kid an attentive skier.
If you buy the kit, learn how to use it.

BCA website is very informative for refreshing& general guidance, big ski-areas like chamonix have regular FREE avi training days, as well as paid for.

Digging a victim out isn't straight forward, it needs planning lest you crush them or restrict their air space, & handballing snow is nigh on pointless, especially if / when you have to get your now cold wet gloves off to administer first aid & you are painfully numb too.

Lastly, mountain kit is what you cough up money for the good ultra power batteries so you don't have ridiculously fast depletion, ..the superdrug deal recently was my "top up" for transceivers & walkies (at least the non rechargeable ones).

Shovel, Probe, Transceiver, + WALKIES.

It is too tempting to go off-piste & if you aren't properly clued up then you are a big old liability potential likely to endanger others around you too.

At the very least stick the emergency services contact number in your phone.. before you go away...

If your activities take place across the frontier in Switzerland you should note mountain rescue is always charged for and is very expensive!

Calling for Mountain Rescue The key number is 112, the European emergency number. The centre will then put you through to the relevant emergency service.

Calling for Mountain Rescue in Switzerland The primary number in Switzerland is 1414 or 144 (if you happen to be in the Canton of Valais) – this puts you through to the REGA. If all else fails dial 112.

Calling for Mountain Rescue in ItalyCall 112 or 118

Before You Call You should be ready to reply to the following questions (if you don’t you will spend more time on the phone):

  • Who are you?
  • What’s your telephone number?
  • Where are you? You should be able to give the co-ordinates for your location. What path are you on? e.g. the Tour du Mont Blanc between X and Y.
  • What altitude you are at?
  • What’s happened? e.g. Fall or slip, illness, etc.
  • How many of you are there?
  • What injuries / illnesses? e.g. casualty unconscious – not responding to pain? fractures (which limb, etc).
  • What’s the weather like at your location? e.g. visibility – distance; obstacles e.g. power lines or ski lifts ( a major factor for a helicopter), cloud base, wind speed.

After Raising the Alert
  • Don’t hang up until told to do so.
  • Leave your phone on for a potential call back.
  • Follow the instructions of the rescue services.

Preparing for the Arrival of a Rescue Helicopter
  • Landing site minimum 25m x 25m (free of obstacles)
  • Landing site c. 100m from the site of the accident
  • Remove loose objects (e.g. clothes, rucksacks, etc) or lie on top of them.
  • During landing – stay still and kneeling down.
  • Keep visual contact with the pilot.
  • Don’t approach the helicopter except guided by a rescuer.

Insurance Below is a far from exhaustive list of options for suitable insurance.

Club Alpin Francais – becoming a member of the CAF gives access to very good insurance.

Diot Montagne – this company offers insurance by the day, week or annually.

Au Vieux Campeur – this chain of outdoor shops offers a very competitive insurance with their “Carte Club”.

Don’t forget that certain home insurance policies may also give cover, as do certain credit cards. As always read the fine print to avoid a nasty shock!

Useful Applications:
  • UTM GPS – gives UTM grid reference in large letters along with your altitude.
  • GendLoc – an application used by the gendarmerie to locate your position. They send you a text message and if you click on the link it gives them your precise location. It needs you to have a signal and data connection.
Community Updates
Post a comment



    Top Merchants