Thursday, January 10, 2013

Couloir des Canadiens accident

A friend and neighbour, and highly experienced instructor and mountain guide, says its the best place to ski in the world - the north face of the Bellecote mountain in the La Plagne ski area. A number of couloirs of varying difficulty (none of them easy and all must be skied with a guide) run from just below the glacier (3400m)  funnelling steeply down to the Ponthurin valley. 

Steep and deep certainly, but once again we are reminded of the dangers that skiers can encounter off-piste even in relatively good conditions:  yesterday a 25 year old English woman slipped and fell 300m on the Couloir des Canadiens (no 2 on the picture), the most popular of these awesome routes.  It was named after a group of Canadian soldiers who first discovered it was skiable in the 1950s. 

The unfortunate woman suffered very serious head and facial injuries (she was wearing a helmet) and a broken leg. She was flown by helicopter to a hospital in Chambery, but because of the seriousness of her injures was transferred to the larger, more specialised hospital in Grenoble. One of her four companions was in such a state of shock that he had to be winched by helicopter back up to the Roche de Mio.

 No one stepping out on to the north face of the Bellecote could be unaware of the risks, and no doubt the unfortunate skieuse took this into account when deciding to begin her descent. No doubt there will be mutterings about the dangers of off-piste skiing and should it be controlled, etc, but the mountain will always be there to offer exhilaration and excitement  and to inspire respect for nature's most dramatic gifts to us.

We wish her a complete and speedy recovery, and bon courage to her friends and family.

No comments:

Post a Comment