Chamonix: two avalanches in the Grands Montets ski area


On Sunday 12 March 2023, two snowslides reached the Grands Montets ski area. On the sector, at the end of the morning, the first avalanche overflowed on the red ski piste of Pierre à Ric.

L'hélicoptère de la sécurité civile en reconnaissance sur le domaine des Grands Montets. Photo Le DL/Antoine CHANDELLIER
Bulletin du risque d’avalanche rédigé le dimanche 12 mars 2023 à 16h. Photo source: @Météo France

The Chamonix High Mountain Gendarmerie Platoon (PGHM) was hired for searches, but no casualties were reported.

A little later in the early afternoon, another avalanche occurred in the Combe de la Pendant sector, outside the ski slopes. Again, more fear than harm, no skier was buried by the snow.

A high avalanche risk (level 4 out of 5) was announced. The snowpack was particularly unstable.

Avalanche risk bulletin written on Sunday 12 March 2023 at 4 p.m.

Risk estimate until Monday evening 13 March 2023:

  • Above 2000 m: marked risk (level 3).
  • Below: limited risk.

Snowpack stability

Typical avalanche situation: recent snow, wet snow.

Spontaneous departures: avalanches of wet snow are possible in the steep and sunny slopes during the day in the form of surface avalanches or in the form of bottom slabs. Generally medium-sized avalanches, rarely large. Risk a little greater above 2000/2200 m, where wetting with rain was less significant.

Triggering skiers: above 2000/2200 m, some slabs remain, especially in the sides and can, locally, be easy to trigger. Avalanches likely to reach large sizes (level 3). On the other hand, at these altitudes, with the strengthening of the South-West wind during the day, the formation of a few slabs of compact snow, which, if necessary, can be easy to trigger (level 2). During the day, possibility on very steep and sunny slopes of causing wet snow flows under the skis, which can possibly increase in volume on a large slope (level 1 to 2).

Snow quality

The snow cover has greatly improved, especially above 1500/1800 meters. Skis can be put on from 1300 m in the sides; 1500/1700 m uphill.

Below 1800/2000 m, very wet snow at depth, with a nocturnal refreeze which should remain superficial, quickly soft during the day. Above, matte snow, generally very wind-blown. On sunny slopes, humidification during the day.

Source: @Le Dauphine @Météo France 

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