Avalanche kills one man in Jeseníky mountains

An avalanche in the Jeseníky mountains yesterday resulted in the death of a 31-year-old ski mountaineer

ČTK

Written by ČTK
Published on 16.01.2021 09:40 (updated on 16.01.2021)

An avalanche in the Jeseníky Mountains, north Moravia, engulfed a 31-year-old ski mountaineer at around 1:00 p.m. on Friday, Jeseníky mountain rescue service head Vítězslav Kaller has told CTK.

Mountain rescuers declared a level two (out of five) risk alert level for avalanches yesterday. This level indicates a slight degree of risk, and avalanches might be triggered on steep slopes.

The avalanche fell in Velký kotel (Great Kettle), one of the known Jeseníky avalanche areas, at around 1:00 p.m., the Jeseníky mountain rescue service tweeted. Three ski mountaineers were there at that time, one of them was buried by the avalanche.

"Rescuers arrived at the site in 20 minutes, and the young man had been already dug out by his companions," the rescue service said.

"Despite the rapid response of both his friends and our mountain rescuers, who dug him out within 20 minutes, the man did not survive. He was resuscitated, a helicopter was sent from Ostrava to the spot, however, the doctor pronounced him dead," Kaller told CTK.

The attempts to bring back to life the man began before paramedics came, and the doctor continued resuscitation efforts when he arrived, but the man unfortunately died, Moravian-Silesian emergency service spokesman Lukáš Humpl said.

In addition to the air ambulance helicopter that dropped the doctor at the scene of the accident, an ambulance was also sent but it could not access the site, Jiří Hejtmánek from the mountain service said.

North Moravia police have reported to investigate the accident. The man was born in 1989, police spokesperson Eva Michalíková told CTK. "Now, detectives will investigate all circumstances surrounding this tragic event. Out of respect for the family, we will not give any further details," she added.

The size of the avalanche is not clear yet, but experts will assess it and a report will be available on Saturday at the earliest, Kaller said.

A blanket of extremely thick fog covered the Jeseniky mountains on Friday, resulting in a visibility level of just ten meters. Due to a high amount of snowfall, the avalanche risk level was raised. Around 20 centimeters of new snow fell this week, and it continues to fall. Ovčárna, the highest-elevation ski resort in the Czech Republic, is currently covered by about 70 centimeters of snow.

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In January 2019, an avalanche of 300 to 400 meters in size was reported but did not harm anybody. According to the Jeseníky mountain rescue service, it was the area's largest avalanche in the past 20 years.

In January 2010, an avalanche engulfed a 35-year-old ski mountaineer in the Jeseníky area of the Velký kotel. Despite being equipped with an avalanche beacon, he succumbed to multiple injuries.

There are currently many ski mountaineers, a discipline that involves hiking or climbing up a mountain and skiing down, in the Jeseníky Mountains. Ski rental services confirmed this to CTK, adding that people's interest in this ski mountaineering rose enormously this year compared to past years.

Due to the Czech Republic's current anti-epidemic measures, ski resorts have been closed and accommodation and other tourist services suspended in the mountains since December 27. However, hiking and cross-country skiing are not restricted.