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Great St Bernard Pass avalanche: ‘We heard him shouting under the snow’

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Great St Bernard Pass avalanche: ‘We heard him shouting under the snow’
Photo: Switzerland Tourism
10:19 CEST+02:00
Tragedy was narrowly averted twice on Saturday after a cameraman was buried by an avalanche above the famous Great St Bernard Hospice in the Swiss canton of Valais near the Italian border.

The cameraman with Swiss television station Tele M1 had on Friday accompanied around a dozen members of the Barry Foundation and number of their famous St Bernard rescue dogs on a hike up to the hospice which the animals call home in summer.

Early on Saturday morning, the cameraman went out to take photographs without informing anyone of his plans, Barry Foundation Claudio Rossetti, who was also at the hospice, told Swiss daily Der Bund.

It was then he was swept away by an avalanche.

“It’s amazing he was uninjured. We could hear him shouting in the snow,” Rossetti said.

The man could be located and was freed from the snow with only slight injuries.

Read also: Zermatt bans St Bernard dog photos

The drama didn’t end there, however. One of the two helicopters dispatched to rescue the television staffer was caught by a gust of wind and crashed during take-off. No one was injured and the extent of the damage is not known, said cantonal police in Valais.

Friday’s hike up to the Great St Bernard Hospice went ahead despite the snowy conditions and the subsequent elevated risk of avalanches.

Photo: Barry Foundation

Normally, the huge St Bernard dogs only spend the summer on the pass that links Valais with the Aosta Valley region of Italy. However, this year, a winter walk went ahead in what the Barry Foundation hopes will become a regular event.

Named after Switzerland's most famous St Bernard dog – 19th century rescue dog Barry – the Barry Foundation has been breeding Switzerland's national dog in Martigny and on the St Bernard pass for 12 years.

Dogs have been resident at the hospice on the pass for much longer, however, being used to protect and guard visitors since the 17th century.

The foundation's dogs spend the summer on the pass before coming down to the Barryland kennel and museum in Martigny for the winter. 

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