Switzerland sees unusually fatal avalanche season

Switzerland sees unusually fatal avalanche season

Switzerland's winter season this year has been 50 percent deadlier than the average season, resulting in around 27 fatalities as of March 31.

Around 296 people have been affected, which is a 67 percent increase, as the number of people caught in avalanches over the past 20 years is 177.

215 of the avalanches this season were caused by people, compared to an average of 113 over the last 20 seasons.

Over the same timespan, an average of 18 people died in avalanche accidents per ski season. 

This season, 11 of the fatalities were among ski tourers and 6 among free riders. The deadliest region was Verbier, among the 4-valleys region, as seven of the total avalanche fatalities occurred there.

Among the fatalities was former Olympian Julie Pomagalski, a snowboarder from France who died on March 23, along with a guide.

The French ski federation did not cite the location of the avalanche, but according to the Associated Press, it occurred on Gemsstock mountain.

The WSL Institute for Snow and Avalanche Research explained that a thin, fragile layer of snow, which fell high up in autumn, caused future snow to become unstable.

The melting and freezing of old snow throughout the season increased the risk of thick layers of snow breaking apart, causing accidents.

Featured image credit: SunPower


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