Another avalanche hits Åre ski resort

A snowslide broke out in Åre just a day after a powerful avalanche claimed a young man's life, leading police to appeal to skiers to avoid off-piste areas.

Another avalanche hits Åre ski resort

The avalanche started on Saturday afternoon in Tyskhuvudet near Tegefjäll, around four kilometres west of the alpine village of Åre.

A major search operation which launched around 3.40pm was called off four hours later when it became clear that no one had been caught in the avalanche.

Staff from ski resort operator Skistar, mountain rescue personnel, police helicopters and avalanche search dogs made up the search party.

While nobody was injured on Saturday, local authorities warned that the avalanche risk in the area is currently high, with strong winds and heavy snowfall making the terrain unstable over the past few days.

On Friday, one man in his thirties died after getting caught in an avalanche in Västerskutan, an area popular among off-piste skiers.

He was found buried under 2.5-metre deep snow masses three hours after the avalanche broke out.

Both Friday’s and Saturday’s avalanches started outside areas surveyed by Skistar for avalanche risks.

“We avalanche-proof areas in different ways, for example through blasting, but that is done in off-piste areas that are adjacent to the lift systems,” said Linda Wassel, a Skistar spokeswoman in Åre.

“So our assessments do not apply outside those areas where the risks can look very different.”

The weekend’s avalanches came after days of heavy snowfall.

“It has been very windy and snowy with snowslides occurring in unexpected places,” said Peter Borg of the Jämtland police.

“If you get caught up in an avalanche it’s a bit like a Russian roulette situation and therefore we urge everyone to be extremely cautious and only to ski in secured areas,” said Borg.

It is unclear whether the off-piste skiers in Västerskutan carried any security equipment, such as avalanche beacons.

According to Mårten Johansson, head of the Åre Avalanche Centre (Åre Lavincenter), Swedish off-piste skiers generally do not tend to carry equipment.

“That is unfortunate since a lot of people ski off-piste and perhaps lack the required experience,” said Johansson.

“People spend money on expensive skis and clothes but do not invest in the equipment that could actually determine whether or not they end up in an avalanche.”

The mood among holidaying skiers in Åre was sombre on Saturday.

“Everyone is talking about what happened and it makes you think about the risks you take sometimes,” said Michael Skala from Stockholm.

“I’m now thinking about bringing an avalanche beacon with me when I go skiing,” said Skala, who had been skiing off-piste in the Åre area over the past few days.

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