Reports of a lost teen found alive in the Swiss Alps are indicating the teen was not adequately prepared to ski in the area where the rescue occurred. As reported by the Inquisitr, the 19-year-old student intended to make it back to his resort when he lost his bearings. The following 48 hours were eye-opening for the teen, who was found alive and stuck waist-deep in snow on February 4.
The crew who found the young man noted he was suffering from hypothermia and exhaustion. After the rescue, officials told MSN the teen was wearing the proper clothing for off-piste skiing, but “had no working means of communication and none of the vital material needed when skiing off-piste.” Though the teen’s injuries were not life-threatening, many taking part in the two-day search were unsure how the story would end.
Off-piste, or backcountry, skiing is considered very dangerous, even by experienced, well-equipped skiers. Because off-piste areas are frequently unpatrolled, skiers without the proper equipment or communication devices are battling life-threatening conditions with little chance of receiving help. Depending on the time of year, off-piste skiers are susceptible to avalanches. Fortunately for the lost teen found alive, help arrived in time.
According to Alpine Guides, an online repository of skiing skill information, off-piste skiers fall into six different categories of expertise. At all skill levels, ongoing training, coaching, and supervised experience is recommended before attempting a solo tour. Even then, solo tours should not be attempted without properly communicating with others and wearing a GPS device.
The American teen isn’t the first skier this year to need rescue assistance in the Alps, and the area is widely publicized as dangerous for anyone not accustomed to local skiing conditions. In 2013, the Daily Mail reported the tragic deaths of a father and son pair who were visiting the Alps. Peter and Charlie Saunders, 48 and 12, respectively, both suffered fatal injuries after falling into a deep gully before rescue teams could provide assistance.
In addition to the dangers of skiing off-piste, skiing on the Swiss Alps during this season is also unadvised due to the potential for avalanches. Days before news broke of the lost teen found alive in the Alps, the Alps’ death toll rose to 11 following heavy snowfall throughout the area. Avalanches are one of the top causes of death for skiers in the Alps, and many of the recent deaths occurred while skiers were skiing off-piste, the Local reports.