Snowshoer found alive after hours buried under snow in French Alps avalanche.
A snowshoer was found alive in the French Alps after being buried for several hours under 2.5 meters of snow. He had been hit by an avalanche during a family walk.
More than 100 rescuers were able to free the buried man, who was still alive, after 2 hours 40 of searching.
The 50 year old man was buried after a French Alps avalanche in Val d’Isère, a ski resort in Savoie, on January 28.
The family – a couple and their two children – had been on a snowshoe walk.
The man was buried by an unexpected avalanche that the family had not heard coming, with his wife and two children managing to escape. They immediately raised the alarm.
Police had to use vehicles to reach the area. The usual rescue helicopters could not take off due to the adverse weather conditions. Local rescuers also headed to the scene. They were joined later by more emergency services.
Alexandre Grether, deputy at mountain police service (PGHM) in Savoie, spoke to the local news. “We quickly had around 100 people [searching]. There were gendarmes, skiers, firefighters, but also mountain guides and ski teachers who were on the mountain.”
Despite the number of searchers, the rescue was not straightforward. The lost man was not wearing an avalanche victim transceiver. Even the rescue dogs could not find a scent due to the deep debris.
As a result, the PGHM police decided to use the “Wolfhound system”, which can detect mobile phone signals.
Mr Grether said: “Usually, we use it to find people who are lost in the forest. This was one of the first times we have used it for an avalanche.”
All people present were asked to turn off their mobile phones. The team then began patrolling the area using the Wolfhound device. It was then that they detected a signal, and were able to dig through the snow to rescue the man.
After 2 hours and 40 minutes of searching, the man was “miraculously” found alive, and taken care of by emergency teams.
Mr Grether said: “He was protected by a tree, that’s what prevented him from being crushed. The snow had surrounded him, but he had a pocket of air,” he explained. The victim is expected to make a full recovery after suffering a fracture to his hip.