Every single year people die in the mountains and although it doesn’t bare thinking about, we should talk about it.
When we think of mountain fatalities we tend to think straight to Avalanches, more on that later.
The number of people that freeze to death on a night out every year, is baffling and upsetting, last year in Meribel a you guy walked from Les Allues with an end destination of Brides le Bain and never made it.
Anyone who has been to Meribel will know that this is a considerable walk and in the freezing cold and off piste routes it just doesn’t bode well, this isn’t the only time it has happened, in Les Deux Alps someone wandered drunk, in a T shirt, in the middle of night and fell off ‘The end of the World’.
And the number of close calls is even scarier to think about – I know someone who worked for SkiWorld 4 years ago spent the night in the great outdoors and was very lucky. And I once fell asleep (after a large Apres) in Plagne 1800, I lived in Belle Plagne at the time. I woke up the next morning thinking I was in the medical centre there; you can imagine my surprise when I looked out of the window and realised I was in Bourg Saint Maurice Hospital a long way from home.
How Can we avoid these situations? Look out for you mates, we all have a friend who end ups in sticky situations; who loves that shot of Genepi that tips them over the edge. Look out for them. Wear appropriate clothes; my jaunt to BSM hospital was in April and I was in full ski gear, I have sleepless nights thinking about what could have happened. And finally look out for yourselves; hitting apres hard is fun but there is no need to get so sloshed that you can’t get home.
Next up on the mountain; Avalanches kill people every year. Seasonaires are obsessed with ‘POW”. But the number people who don’t have the necessary kit or the knowledge of how to use it, is terrifying. Personally, I think you can keep your ‘sidecountry’, but if I ride off piste I use a Transceiver, Shovel and probe and will only ride with people who have the same equipment, this is the stance everyone should take. No ifs no buts, like arguing with a referee in a game of Rugby, just don’t do it.
If you are super keen to ride off piste, then get the gear head to a Ski School and get them to train you how to use the gear, schools are always running courses so get stuck in. But remember the safest place to ride is on the piste and a transceiver doesn’t give you a magic forcefield against avalanches.