How to lost skis in the Swiss avalanches (Idiots in the avalanche terrain Vol. 2.0)

The task of our 3-person group for the Saturday, January 5th, 2013 was to reach hut Maighelshütte. Followingly we planed to ski on surrouding peaks. We were partially lost during the climb and our delay was approximately 30 minutes. Thus, I was silent at the end, when my colleagues wanted to skin up on the visible trace going through the more steep terrain than proper route going through the more gnetle slope and marked by poles.

Maighelshütte was our final destination
Maighelshütte was our final destination

First part, resp. 1.0 is here Idioti v lavínovom teréne v Gruzínsku.

Slab avalanche was released remotely during skinning up – stability of the slope was partially changed probably by our traverses. I was the only person caught by the avalanche – I was on the first position when climbing up. The avalanche went over the edge of the slope, so that my colleagues were not able to see me. I fell down with the avalanche approximately 80 meters, and lost both skis and camera. I successfully tried to swim in the avalanche. I stayed on the surface of the avlanache afther the avalanche stop. I got up on me feet and state and sum up, that I luckily remained on the surface. I screamed on the others, but I was not sure, if they heard me.

Whole view of the slope and zoomed part with the avalanche
Whole view of the slope and zoomed part with the avalanche

Description of the figure:
Black point – position, where I was caught by the avalanche
White – proper climbing route, it is missed on the upper image as it was covered by snow
Black line is false route, dashed line is approximately climbing route
Upper red arrow is directed to a small slab cut that resulted in two avalanche areas – upper one, where we did not look through because the second avalanche fell down and bottom avalanche area, where we repeatable looked through with avalanche probes, shovels and detector/sensor of iron – one ski was recovered, and also camera.

Followingly, I have tried to climb the slope up, but it was quite hard. I was quite lost without skis, as I was sinking to the thigh at each step. Meanwhile, others were over the edge of the slope and did not see me. By the time I climbed almost ot the top of the avalanche, others had discovered on the edge of the slope about 30 meters below the point, where we stood at the time of the avalanche release. In case, I was fully covered by the snow, my colleagues would not found me within the most important 15 minutes after the avalanche release. They would not even get to a place where I could be found.

Dimensions of lower avalanche where I ended up, were about 10×30 m, the upper avalanche was larger and contained large blocks. We found out one ski at a depth of 30 cm below the snow surface after probing with the avalanche probe after several hours. It was not possible to locate the second ski even after much effort. I went back with a metal detector there three days later. This metal detector had only a small detection range, so it was not possible to find the second ski, but I found at least lost camera with its help. The camera is working properly after drying at home.

I returned I returned in place of the avalanche the following weekend. We dug up most of the lower avalanche while there remained not probed area of about 20 m2 of the original approximately 300 m2. The second ski was not found.

There fell down another 20 cm of snow during the week. The next weekend, fell another avalanche fell down in the same place. Therefore, there was none of us wanted to go there again.


  • Not to believe visible older track when the right track is blowing and unclear at first glance
  • Do not be influenced by less experienced colleagues in choosing the ascent route, trust intuition saying NO
  • Do not underestimate the wind. Even if the surface of the slope consists of compact snow, what's flying in the air can not disappear. Smug snow slabs can be released even remotely.
  • Check if friends know how and what to do in the case of avalanche accidents. If they are not experienced, you MUST choose only completely safe winter walk instead of standard ski-touring route.
  • Try to swim in the avalanche, fight, do what's everything possible for staying on the surface of the snow, even when your body surprisingly does not want. Trying to maintain a balance sheet, position sense, slope, velocity changes snow.
  • Trying to get rid of skis and ski poles, although I suppose it's rather happiness at that speed. It was worth that for me.

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