By Maximilian Ritter
Tragic news came yet again from Europe this past weekend, with another deadly avalanche in Austria. A massive slide on February 6 caught a group of 17 Czech skiers in the Wattener Valley near Innsbruck, killing five and injuring two.
The guided group was staying at the popular Lizumer Hut and was taking part in a backcountry freeride development camp. According to local authorities, the group set out on a tour despite repeated warnings about elevated avalanche risk. They triggered three separate avalanches while attempting to ascend the Northeast Face of the Geierspitze. One crown measured several hundred meters across and up to five meters high.
Emergency responders were able to reach the victims using helicopters and rescued the 12 survivors from the slope.
The Austrian avalanche advisory posted the avalanche hazard to be considerable, ranking it three out of a possible five on the danger scale.
Eleven separate incidents involving 24 victims were reported throughout the Austrian Alps the same day, although all other parties were rescued safely.
We would like to express our deepest condolences to all the victims’ family and friends.