The Dangers of Skiing Off Piste In Europe

Seldomski

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Avalanches have always fascinated me. Always got warnings in my younger days for skiing crazy stuff, I'm probably lucky to be alive. Just saw this video, 1:12 into it he drops in and sets it off.....

Wow, it looks like that slide ran from out of bounds and into the patrolled ski area. It hit some innocent bystanders.

I think in Europe the individual causing an avalanche like that is liable for harm done to others even if they are in bounds. Not sure that is the case in US.
 

Nobody

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Wow, it looks like that slide ran from out of bounds and into the patrolled ski area. It hit some innocent bystanders.

I think in Europe the individual causing an avalanche like that is liable for harm done to others even if they are in bounds. Not sure that is the case in US.
Correct. In Italy there is even an article of law covering avalanches and landslides ( Art 426 of C.P - or Penal Code - King's Decree, 19 of October 1930...still valid today. Updated , but still valid)
regardless wether inbound or outbound. The law is quite "broad" in the sense that it does not mention that damages to people or things have actually to occour; the simple fact that an avalanche has been triggered/caused, is enough to invoke the article. In practical terms, though, depending if there is impact or not, victims or not, the individual recognized as guilty of causing an avalanche can be fined or worse case trialled for damages to things, causing injuries to ppl, manslaughter....
 

Tricia

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Wow, some really cool posts in this thread.

To the question earlier about Europe being in the title. I think(though I can't read minds) the OP was making a distiction of markings and warnings that we've grown accustomed to in the US.
I get the idea that European resorts don't have such markings, or at least not as much as we do here.
 
Thread Starter
TS
Jacob

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Wow, some really cool posts in this thread.

To the question earlier about Europe being in the title. I think(though I can't read minds) the OP was making a distiction of markings and warnings that we've grown accustomed to in the US.
I get the idea that European resorts don't have such markings, or at least not as much as we do here.
Exactly. I grew up doing ski trips in CO, and I got used to the idea that everything within the resort boundaries was safe to ski due to avi control and marked hazards. When I moved to the UK and took my first trip to the Alps, I quickly learned that you’re on your own as soon as you step off the groomers no matter where you are.

That said, it doesn’t take long at all to get used to doing the necessary checks, and it quickly becomes second nature.
 

Nobody

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Wow, some really cool posts in this thread.

To the question earlier about Europe being in the title. I think(though I can't read minds) the OP was making a distiction of markings and warnings that we've grown accustomed to in the US.
I get the idea that European resorts don't have such markings, or at least not as much as we do here.
Jacob said:
Exactly. I grew up doing ski trips in CO, and I got used to the idea that everything within the resort boundaries was safe to ski due to avi control and marked hazards. When I moved to the UK and took my first trip to the Alps, I quickly learned that you’re on your own as soon as you step off the groomers no matter where you are.
That said, it doesn’t take long at all to get used to doing the necessary checks, and it quickly becomes second nature.

Those are very valid points. When the winter tourism was limited to (locals) italians , we all sort of knew where the "boundaries" were, in any specific locations ("second nature" as said by Jacob) , it was part of the instructions we were getting at ski school covering safety (this could also belong to the other thread..."who taught you to ski safely"). Groomed trails in Italy are generally delimited by poles through out their length from top to bottom. outside of that...it's al backcountry, so to speak. At some locations, like my home mountain (Ponte di Legno Tonale), when one reaches the higher ground (the Glacier, at 3100 mt a.s.l.) there is no "gate" telling skiers that beyond that point they'll enter Glacial grounds err snows and, despite the beauty of the scenery and the inviting valley to ski down, there is no lift back up, and during winter time the two huts (refuges) down there are closed. It is an AT itinerary that can be done only if well equipped (with AT skis, boots and skins, but with also maps or guides), and well prepared. In recent years, in 2018 it has occured at least thrice that foreign tourists skied down there and had to be object of SAR operations. Since then, a warning sign in multiple languages has been posted atthe spot, but other places ramins as they were in the past without warning signs. Too little too late? Dunno. One of my main rules to ski off-piste in a place I do not know is : gather as many information as possible, keep eyes wide opend, then either gang up with locals (or at least ask first hand informations) or hire a guide.
ah, BTW all dispersed parties were recovered although had to spend a night out in the cold (I think in one case, two guys, were found late in the evening and helped prepare an emergency bivouac - not being equipped to ski in deep snow at night, had to wait till the morning to be taken down back to safety; in the other, father and daughter, IIRC, spent the nigh walking around to avoid to freeze , and were found by the SAR party next morning....at the time there were no big wild animals , bears or wolves, that could represent a danger...)
 

Idris

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Wolves are now turning up on our webcams :) - this was back in December. Touring and snowshoeing in the area since I've seen theri tracks (and yes I know the difference between wolves and dogs tracks).

 

PowHog

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Wolves are now turning up on our webcams :) - this was back in December. Touring and snowshoeing in the area since I've seen theri tracks (and yes I know the difference between wolves and dogs tracks).
This is living proof that skiing in Europe is REALLY dangerous when you get eaten alive! :yahoo:
 

AaronFM

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My first time in Europe was at Chamonix 2016 and the group of 6 hired a guide for 5 of the 6 ski days we were there. We were all strong skiers with a bit of east coast backcountry experience, but for most of us it was our first time in Europe. Our guide brought us to stuff that we probably would have not found on our own in the timeframe we had there. One run in particular was during heavy overcast conditions, we exited a trail at a certain corner not being able to see more than 20' in front of us and traversed over to a great stash of a tree run. When I went to St Anton a few years later I had a better idea of what to expect and was more comfortable skiing off piste, though always stayed cautious and had lines scoped out from multiple angles if possible.


1612577528634.png
 

James

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Impressive heli rescue. It’s rough with the guy coming in... onto a crevasse area.
 

James

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Here’s why they had no rope, top post in comments. There’s nearly 14k comments which is a lot for a skiing video. I didn’t bother to look at them.

———————
This day we made many mistakes, that's why I posted this video. When we reached the top another group came and asked to use our rope. We said yes because the rappel was pretty hard to install, then our group (of four) accessed the couloir. The platform at the beginning of the couloir was relatively sketchy, so we both decided to start the descent without the rope while our two other friends were waiting the second group to take back the rope. At this moment I was thinking that agglutinate 6 peoples at the top of the couloir was more dangerous than splitting the group, here was my first mistake. So with my friend, we started to get down together without a real analyze of the terrain. Here again another mistake because we were excited to ski, instead we should have to ski smaller section one by one before regrouping on a secure point. Then I arrived at the bottom part of the couloir, I stopped in front of the crevasse, in the middle of the couloir to wait my friend to cross the crevasse. This is my biggest mistake because it was too exposed with all the snow... My friend came just above me with too much speed, the snow took me and caused the fall. I broke my knee ligament but it's a pretty low price, these places are serious and not always give you a second chance. I would add a final note, my family is heavily engaged in mountain rescuing. I grew up with their stories in mind and this time it was my own experience. I take it as a lesson.
—————-
 

Jim McDonald

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Why is that guy in sunglasses laughing about the avalanche?
Screen Shot 2021-02-08 at 23.36.31.png
 

Jim McDonald

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It's a screenshot from the video
Screen Shot 2021-02-08 at 23.36.31.png
 

stuckinphilly

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There's a few cliff signs there now, but in the fog they could be missed. These days there's a chair there, so it shouldn't be quite so much of a surprise. Years ago someone went off a cliff in the fog, broke his back. He "thought he knew where he was".

But I've seen people jump those things while I've been riding on the chair and somehow not slam into the trees just in front of the base of it.
I had a ton of fun on East Rim, but you really need to know where you are. The fog days were tough for that. I remember noting certain trees are guide posts, or natural "fog balls" good times.
 

Slim

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To the question earlier about Europe being in the title. I think(though I can't read minds) the OP was making a distiction of markings and warnings that we've grown accustomed to in the US.
I get the idea that European resorts don't have such markings, or at least not as much as we do here.
I disagree with the idea that skiing in Europe is more dangerous than in North America due to unmarked cliffs inbounds.

It is actually far more likely to find (unmarked) cliffs in controlled terrain in North America than in Europe.
All the cliffs shown mentioned so far, are ‘off piste’, meaning, they are literally OFF the marked and controlled skiterrein that you bought a ticket for.
In North America, on the other hand, the controlled terrain (all the marked terrain open terrain within the resort boundaries) includes some very steep and rocky terrain, that might be marked or it might not.

Now, once you venture outside of the terrain the ski company is responsible for, aka, into the backcountry, you won’t find many warning signs and fences on either continent.
 
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Nobody

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The difference being that, here , the "backcountry" begins as soon as one puts his/her ski tips out of the groomed run, and often is not clearly stated so. Discussing with one of my coaches (freeride coach) some years ago, and e was saying that the vast majority of ppl getting caught in an avalanche in the Alps occured at a distance not more than 100 mt from the groomed trails (since then tried to find references on that, unsuccessfully).
If one is used to the N.A. signage, could very easily be caught in the euristic trap to think that in Italy too, there is a sort of "controlled area"and ski out of bound thinking it's all good. Where in truth, is not...unless one knows very, very well the area.
 
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