• Switzerland's news in English
CERN 'in shock' over fatal Valais avalanche
The Globe of Science and Innovation at CERN. Photo: Adam Nieman/Flickr

CERN 'in shock' over fatal Valais avalanche

Malcolm Curtis · 13 Apr 2015, 11:17

Published: 13 Apr 2015 11:17 GMT+02:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

One of four members of CERN's ski club swept down the mountainside, a 49-year-old Frenchman, died in the Sion hospital on Monday, Valais cantonal police said. 

CERN spokesman Arnaud Marsollier, speaking to news agency ATS before news of the man's death became known, said the scientific organization was shocked by the news of the snow slide.

He confirmed that members of CERN’s ski club were victims of the avalanche on the north slope of Pointes de Tsavolire, a 3,026-metre mountain.

The other person critically injured is a 33-year-old Swiss man who lives in the canton of Geneva.

The man who died was a senior staff member of CERN's engineering department, Marsollier informed The Local.

"I must say that all CERN people are deeply saddened by this tragic news," he said. 

Valais cantonal police said the avalanche, triggered on Sunday around 11am, occurred as five members of the club were ski touring in the Becs de Bosson Alpine region.

Four of the skiers were buried by the slide but the fifth skier was able to dig out two of the victims.

Emergency rescue workers retrieved the other two skiers, who were buried in more than two and a half metres of snow, police said.

They were transported in critical condition by helicopters separately to hospitals in Lausanne and Sion for treatment of life-threatening injuries.

CERN, which conducts particle physics research on the Swiss-French border, employs 2,250 staff and attracts additional researchers, sub-contractors and visiting scientists from around the world.

Its ski club includes an Alpine ski touring section that organizes regular outings with instructors.

"The group (involved with the avalanche) was indeed accompanied by an instructor," Marsollier told The Local.

"Such activities are done in the frame of the FFS (Fédération française de ski), respecting all the rules for such an activity," he said.

The participants of this outing were "experienced, used to ski touring," Marsollier added.

"As far as I know, we never had such an accident in the past within the CERN ski club — the ski club was founded in 1963."

Story continues below…

According to the ski club’s web page, participants of outings are required to have a list of safety equipment, including an avalanche transceiver (DVA), snow shovel, snow “probe” and first aid kit.

“Never forget that mountains are a hazardous environment,” the website says.

“Whatever precaution we take, there is always a risk remaining.”

Avalanches have already claimed 30 lives so far in the 2014-2015 winter season, making it the most deadly year since 2009-2010.


For more news from Switzerland, join us on Facebook and Twitter.

Malcolm Curtis (news@thelocal.ch)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Montreux throws hat in Olympic rings
Could Montreux host the 2026 Games? Photo: Ivo Scholz/Swiss Tourism

Montreux is to put itself forward as the host city for the 2026 winter Olympics as part of a potential bid by the cantons of Valais and Vaud.

Geneva car share scheme could help reduce city traffic
Catch a Car is aimed at short hops within a city. Photo: Catch a Car

Catch a Car, already in Basel, launches in Geneva next month.

Swiss women will ‘work for free’ for the rest of year
Female employees in Switzerland earn 19.3 percent less than their male colleagues. File photo: Randy Kashka

Switzerland's gender pay gap means from today, Friday October 21st, women in the country will effectively be working for free for the rest of 2016.

Swiss luxury watches stolen in Paris raid
Police outside the Girard-Perregaux watch store on Thursday. Photo: Bertrand Guay/AFP

The 10 Girard-Perregaux watches are worth half a million euros in total.

Brother-in-law arrested over murder of Swiss teacher
The victim worked in a school in Stabio, near the town of Mendrisio. Photo: Oliver Graf

The primary school teacher was found dead in Ticino earlier this week.

Inside Switzerland’s largest nuclear bunker – 40 years on
Designed to house 20,000 people, the bunker was built in and over two motorway tunnels. Photo: Unterirdisch Ueberleben

The Local takes a tour of the Sonnenberg bunker in Lucerne, opened 40 years ago at the height of the Cold War.

Ten Swiss ski resorts named most expensive in Europe
File photo: Renato Bagattini/Swiss Tourism

Skiers in Switzerland pay the highest prices for their ski passes of anywhere in Europe, according to research.

Eco group fights Bern over wind farm plans
There are currently more than 30 wind farms in Switzerland. Photo: Alpiq

Wind turbines are “gigantic and destructive” machines, says Paysage Libre Suisse.

Vegan wins battle to be accepted by Swiss army
Antoni Da Campo will now carry out his military service. Photo: Antoni Da Campo

A Swiss man who was told he would not be accepted for military service because of his strict veganism has finally succeeded in making the army change its mind.

Geneva terror suspects to receive compensation
File photo: Emran Kassim

The Swiss public prosecutor has dropped the case against them.

Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
Photo: Richard Juilliard/AFP
Man makes Geneva airport bomb threat ‘for a joke’
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Photo: AFP
Solar Impulse team reveals plans for unmanned plane
File photo: Martin Abegglen
Swiss to vote on passport rules for 3rd gen foreigners
Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
Photo: AFP
Swiss wingsuit hotspot Lauterbrunnen won’t impose ban
Photo: Swiss Tourism
Six reasons Switzerland isn’t as boring as you might think
Photo: Swiss Tourism
Report: Switzerland one of world’s best places for girls
Photo: The Local
Thief returns Swiss cow bells worth thousands
File photo: Wikimedia Commons
One in three rapists isn’t locked up: statistics
Photo: activistin.ch
Tampon-tax protest turns Zurich fountains red
Photo: AFP
Geneva police to lift ban on bearded officers
Photo: Marcel Gillieron/AFP
Suicide chef’s restaurant keeps Michelin stars
Photo: Lara de Salis
11 things the Swiss get tired of hearing abroad
Photo:  Ivo Scholz/Swiss-image.ch
Survey: expats in Switzerland have money but few friends
Photo: AFP
Swiss press criticize Bern’s 'capitulation' on immigration
Photo: Jura Trois Lacs tourism
German ex-policeman is Swiss city’s new hermit
Photo: Dmitry A. Mottl
Ticino votes to favour local workers over foreigners
Photo: file
Some deodorants could cause breast cancer: Swiss study
Photo: Royal Savoy
In pictures: Inside the latest Swiss luxury hotel
Photo: AFP
Geneva airport bomb hoaxer faces 90,000-franc bill
Photo: Schaffhausen police
Mother leaves toddler son alone in car to go clubbing
Photo: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP
Swiss populist attacked by knife-wielding pensioner
Photo: File
Bern argues over passports for 3rd generation foreigners
Photo: Broad Bean Media
Muslim pupils must shake hands – ‘no ifs and buts’
jobs available