Avalanches Kill 12 in One Week in French Alps

Photo: Pixabay

Tragic losses in the French Alps have shaken the European mountain community. On Saturday May 8, two avalanches killed a total of seven people in the Savoie region, near Col du Galibier and Mont Pourri. A few days earlier, on May 3, two avalanches killed five people in Isère and Hautes-Alpes. 

Col du Galibier, France in early summer, 2019. Photo: Yuri Turkov/Shutterstock

The first May 8 avalanche took place in the morning near the village of Valloire, gateway to the Col du Galibier, the highest pass on the Tour de France. Four hikers between 42 to 76 years old perished in the slide. Remarkably, one survived without any injuries. The second avalanche killed three more people later in the day near Mont Pourri. 

According to mountain guide Michel Pele, a southerly wind known as the foehn may have triggered the slides. The foehn is a dry, warm wind that sometimes carries sand from the Sahara to the Alps. It is possible, he says, that the grit prevented proper cohesion and made the snow generally unstable. Since last week, officials have warned against crossing slopes because of their instability and the 50 to 70cm of heavy new snow. 

Thirty-five people have died since the beginning of the 2020-2021 ski season.

Mont Pourri, in the French Alps. Photo: Noho/Shutterstock


About the Author

Kristine De Abreu

Kristine De Abreu

Kristine De Abreu is a writer (and occasional photographer) based in sunny Trinidad and Tobago.

Since graduating from the University of Leicester with a BA in English and History, she has pursued a full-time writing career, exploring multiple niches before settling on travel and exploration. While studying for an additional diploma in travel journalism with the British College of Journalism, she began writing for ExWeb.

Currently, she works at a travel magazine in Trinidad as an editorial assistant and is also ExWeb's Weird Wonder Woman, reporting on the world's natural oddities as well as general stories from the world of exploration.

Although she isn't a climber (yet!), she hikes in the bush, has been known to make friends with iguanas and quote the Lord of the Rings trilogy from start to finish.

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8 months ago

Can’t help but wonder if they were just careless.