Avalanches caused the death of 39 people this winter in France, the reference association based in Grenoble said on Monday. This record is much heavier than in previous years and indirectly linked to Covid-19.
This figure, double the average of 20 deaths per year for fifty years, comes mainly from ski touring. This practice resulted in 37 of the 39 deaths that occurred during mountain avalanches.
Experienced skiers among the victims
In its provisional report for the winter of 2020-2021, the National Association for the Study of Snow and Avalanches (Anena) counts 134 snow slides that have resulted in at least one person, 221 people washed away in total and 29 fatal accidents. . Snow and weather conditions, as well as the closure of ski lifts, may explain this heavy toll, experts say in a statement.
For the most part, the victims were experienced skiers (beginners to ski touring often use marked routes). Many of them were guides, rescuers or seasoned mountain dwellers. But the weather this winter and spring generated snowpack “globally unstable for a large part of the season” in the Alps. This continued into May, when a large number of fatal avalanches were triggered.
In a context of restrictions on freedoms due to the health crisis, these unfavorable conditions did not discourage practitioners from going to take advantage of the powder, said Anena. The association also stresses that the ski areas, usually secure, were not all secure due to the stoppage of the ski lifts due to the Covid-19.