Alps avalanche kills French mountain medic Cauchy

Image source, AFP
Image caption,
Dr Cauchy, seen here at work in 2013, was a mountain medicine specialist

An avalanche in the French Alps has killed mountain guide and doctor Emmanuel Cauchy, who was with a group of off-piste skiers near Chamonix.

Rescuers pulled at least three others from the snow in the Aiguilles Rouges area. They have non-critical injuries.

In January Dr Cauchy had helped the rescuers of French climber Elisabeth Revol in the Himalayas, via videolink.

Highly respected among mountaineers, he was known as "Doctor Vertical" and was an expert on frostbite.

He also founded a rescue training institute called Ifremmont, in the resort of Chamonix.

During this winter season there have been many avalanches in the Alps, following very heavy snowfall.

Image source, EPA
Image caption,
Swiss rescuers at the scene after Saturday's avalanche in the Fiescheralp area

On Saturday, three Spanish off-piste skiers died in a Swiss avalanche.

They were in the Fiescheralp area of Valais canton, at an altitude of some 2,450m (8,000ft). Two others with them were rescued, lightly injured. All had detection devices, enabling rescuers to locate them.

Last month an avalanche also killed four off-piste skiers near the French resort of Entraunes.

How dangerous is off-piste skiing?

  • Off-piste refers to any area not marked out and maintained for use by skiers
  • These slopes are not groomed by snow ploughs, so rocks, precipices and cliffs may be hard to spot, especially in poor visibility
  • Avalanches are a major risk as marked pistes are usually protected by controlled explosions and the use of snow ploughs
  • Ski resorts do not have the same responsibilities for off-piste areas

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