Workers Flee Avalanche at French Ski Resort

Tignes Ski Resort

Employees of the Tignes ski resort in the French Alps narrowly missed being flattened by an avalanche on Tuesday. A series of avalanches has plagued the resort this week, and workers were attempting to clear the roads leading to the resort when a fresh wave of snow surged down the mountainside.

The snow removal crew was forced to run for their lives as the avalanche buried their vehicles and the entrance to a mountain tunnel. The dramatic race was captured by worker Yves Queffeulou on his phone as the crew fled from the incoming snow slide. Due to sufficient warning, no one on the crew was injured.

The Tignes ski resort is part of the Espace Killy, a skiing area near the French-Italian border that encompasses the slopes of Tignes and neighboring Val d'Isére. One of the most reliably snowy resorts in the country, Tignes is only closed to snowboarders and skiers for about one month in August. With over 300 kilometers of ski trails, it can be challenging for workers to keep the area clear for skiers.

Last February, an avalanche inundated the slopes in the southern part of the resort, killing four snowboarders, including two teenagers. The avalanche was estimated to be 400 meters in width and was likely triggered by a group skiing on the slopes above the victims. So far this year, around 20 people have died in the French Alps due to avalanches.

Snow experts, or nivologists, advise skiers and snowboarders to closely monitor weather and snow conditions before hitting the slopes and pay careful attention to avalanche warning levels. If possible, hikers and skiers should stay on the ski trails and travel single file. Each person should hit the slopes individually instead of skiing in a large group, as this increases the risk of dislodging loose snow. Avalanche experts also recommend that anyone traversing snowy slopes carry a shovel for digging, a probe for poking air holes in the snow and an emergency beacon.

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