BC Banter: Avalanche in French Alps Kills Six, Vertfest Backcountry Festival, The East’s Epic Weather, SIA Snow Show

Avalanche in French Alps Kills Six


Queyras valley, French Alps [Photo] Bric Bouchet

Queyras Valley, French Hautes-Alpes Six experienced French skiers—four men and two women, between ages 50 and 70—were killed in a massive avalanche while traversing alpine terrain on the border of Italy and France on January 24. “When they set off, the sky was clear and the risk of avalanche estimated at 3 out of 5,” Haute-Alpes chief officer Pierre Besnard told the British news outlet, Mirror. Their bodies were recovered early the following morning at 8,000 feet, reports International Business Times. On January 22 the bodies of a 51-year-old and a 61-year-old—one of whom was a guide—were discovered in a slide in the Hautes-Alpes’ nearby Ecrins range. The next day a woman, age 46, was killed in an avalanche in the Savoie region, reports Vanguard. All told, 30 people have died in avalanches across the Alps this season.

Vertfest, America’s Largest Backcountry Festival, Kicks Off

Vertfest_25_2Bend, Ore. Vertfest, a multi-stop backcountry skiing festival, kicks off next weekend, February 7-8, at Mt. Bachelor, Ore. The tour, dubbed “The Festival of Freeride and Mountain Meddle,” celebrates mountain culture, avalanche awareness and snow-safety education, and the weekend’s events include races, avalanche clinics, demos and a party. All proceeds of this tour stop benefit the Central Oregon Avalanche Association—last year, the tour raised more than $40,000 for avalanche centers across the West. Read more about the event at mtbachelor.com, or check out the calendar of other stops—at Alpental, Wash., Snow King, Wyo., and Brighton, Utah—here.

The East’s Epic Weather

juno_insetWinter Storm Juno pounded parts of the Northeast with 50-80 mph winds and heavy snow earlier in the week, peaking on January 27. Five states declared emergency conditions, the National Guard was called in, and driving was banned in some locations after the storm dropped more than two feet of snow on parts of Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Long Island and Rhode Island. Juno didn’t bring heavy snow to all of the region, however. “In northeast Vermont conditions aren’t crazy, but two to four inches fell in the Bolton backcountry,” says Burton Snowboards analyst Eddie Schoen. “We’re calling it Juno Junior—we didn’t get [hardly] anything up here.” Even so, more than 7,000 flights, or 15 percent of all flights in U.S., were canceled on Tuesday, reports USA Today.

SIA Snow Show Underway

snow_show_logo_orchid_Horiz1_HORDenver, Colo. The SIA Snow Show kicked off yesterday and runs through February 1 at Colorado’s Convention Center in Denver. The annual show, attracting snow-sport brands, professionals, media and retailers, provides a glimpse of 2015-2016 hard- and softgoods, emerging ski and snowboard technologies and more. Backcountry Magazine editors are in attendance and will be posting a wrap-up of show highlights in the coming days. For a schedule of backcountry-related events, click here, and to follow the news of the show, see the SIA SnowShowDaily.

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