Four Dead, Three Injured In Avalanche at France’s Sancy Massif

Four backcountry skiers, including their guide, died yesterday in an avalanche in the Auvergne-Rhone Alps in central France.

The avalanche buried seven of a nine-member group in the Val d’Enfer, an avalanche-prone area in the Massif du Sancy, near the Mont-Dore ski resort. They were at 1,600m  yesterday around 1:30 pm when the accident occurred.

The two members who escaped the slide hurried for help.

topo and couloirs down tghe steep slopes of Val d'Enfer.

Couloirs in Val d’Enfer. Photo and topo:


A large group of 50 rescuers, including 21 firefighters, plus two avalanche dogs, immediately moved into the area. They rescued three injured skiers but couldn’t do anything for the other four, who were buried under several meters of snow.

“Among the survivors, one person was saved by his backpack’s airbag, and another was wearing a detector,” an official told the media.

The group belonged to Vichi’s Alpine Club, and most of the skiers lived in Cantal and Allier. Their leader, David Vigouroux, was a professional guide who knew the area “by heart,” friends told France 2 News.

There had been heavy snowfall and wind in the area recently, and the avalanche risk was deemed as 3 on a scale from 0 to 5. Most backcountry skiing accidents in Europe occur at this intermediate level of risk.

The police are currently interviewing the survivors to understand the circumstances in which the accident took place.

map showing site of avalanche

Angela Benavides

Angela Benavides graduated university in journalism and specializes in high-altitude mountaineering and expedition news. She has been writing about climbing and mountaineering, adventure and outdoor sports for 20+ years.

Prior to that, Angela Benavides spent time at/worked at a number of local and international media. She is also experienced in outdoor-sport consultancy for sponsoring corporations, press manager and communication executive, and a published author.