Alp skiers warned over avalanches

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This season's off- piste skiing is the most dangerous in years, according to French authorities.

Skiers travelling to the French and Swiss Alps are being warned about skiing off- piste in dangerous conditions.

This ski season has seen unstable conditions and 24 people have been killed in avalanches in the region so far, including four this week.

While ungroomed and unmarked slopes attract powder- hungry skiers, the blanketed mountains can also prove to be deadly. Montgenèvre, on the Franco- Italian border, is home to a group of teams who search and rescue for those stuck in avalanches.

In an avalanche, the mountain gendarme have only 30 minutes to find anyone buried. One of the most crucial tools they use? A dog's nose.

Two weeks ago, Remi Mollaret was saved by a dog after being caught in an avalanche. Mr Mollaret had been buried under the snow for 40 minutes and was unconscious when rescuers found him.

He is one of only 13 people the gendarme have ever pulled out of an avalanche alive.

"I couldn't move, not even my fingers. It was just an overwhelming sense of helplessness," Mr Mollaret said.

"I thought I was dead".

Craig Parken is a British expat living in the area. He says the fresh snow isn't sticking to the unusually icy base, so travelling off- piste can be volatile.

"I think what's happened in the industry is materials have developed and it's become a lot more accessible to a lot of people," he says.

"It only takes a little powder track going off somewhere, that can be very tempting and before they know it, they can find themselves in lots and lots of danger".

Source SBS

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