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~ Wednesday 3rd February 2010

 There were 3 more avalanche deaths in Switzerland this weekend, bringing to 12 the total for this season. The SLF site publish details of all fatal avalanche accidents in Switzerland - grim but interesting reading. 

Out of the 12, 7 were in the terrible Diemtigtal accident with the freak second avalanche. What stands out to me is that of the other 5 victims, 3 were not wearing transceivers. Getting buried without a transceiver means your chances are virtually zero. 1 of these was this weekend in Grimentz. I was skiing all weekend in this area so I have a good idea of conditions - 20+cm of fresh snow, very cold and strong W/NW wind.  The avalanche was on a steep East-facing slope in the Combe d'Abondance, a clearly wind-loaded aspect (corniced, and scoured on the W side which you can see from the lift and have to cross to reach the slope) The victim was found alive after 90minutes but died later, so it's fair to say that had he and his mates had transceivers, shovels, probes and some training he would have survived.