How many climbers die each year
Significantly more accidentsMountain emergencies in 2018
The winter of 2018/2019 also started promisingly with abundant snowfall: in November initially in the south, from December also in the north, where the "high" avalanche danger level was forecast on Christmas Eve. The snow masses stabilized quickly and the touring conditions were very good until the end of the year. This was especially true in the eastern part of the Swiss Alps, while in the west there was hardly any snow at lower altitudes.
With these framework conditions, the tour activities were significantly higher than in the previous year, which also resulted in more emergencies. A total of 371 touring skiers (previous year 281) got into an emergency or had an accident. As in previous years, falls were the most common with 166 affected (previous year 151). Most often, such accidents cause moderate injuries that require hospitalization. Often they also occur in the ascent. With a safe walking technique (“Die Alpen” 03/2018) and defensive behavior, such accidents could often be avoided. 9 touring riders died fatally, 4 of them due to a fracture. Avalanche accidents were also more numerous than in the previous year. 53 people were affected in a total of 34 accidents. A total of 15 tourers were killed in 11 of them. 7 of these accidents occurred at the "significant" hazard level and 3 at the "moderate" hazard level. No avalanche bulletin was published in the accident during the steep descent from the Lenzspitze to the Hohbalm Glacier in June.
Accidents in the ski touring area were shaped by the tragedy in front of the Cabane des Vignettes CAS. 7 ski tourers died as a result of exhaustion and hypothermia. Two initially independent tour groups were on their way from the Cabane des Dix CAS towards Pigne d’Arolla. The weather forecast was bad, but there was some brightening in the morning. On the ascent of the so-called Mur de la Serpentine, the weather then worsened. The two groups joined forces, and because visibility was limited to a few meters, they gradually deviated from the classic route. When trying to reach the Cabane des Vignettes, they remained blocked a few hundred meters from the hut. Only when alpinists tried to continue their tour from this hut the next morning, despite the still very difficult weather conditions, the 14 blocked people were discovered. The mountain rescue was alerted with the hut telephone. This was able to rescue all members of the two groups in a large rescue operation. One person was already dead, others were flown to hospitals, some in very critical condition. In spite of all medical measures, another 6 tourers died as a result of hypothermia. This misfortune triggered a lot of media coverage, and unfortunately even self-appointed experts found a platform to express their speculations and prejudices. How did such a tragedy come about? Obviously the chain of unfavorable circumstances played an essential role. The public prosecutor's investigations have not yet been completed.
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