Ahrntal, the video of the Schneebiger Nock avalanche fracture line
The video of the fracture line of the avalanche that on Saturday, March 12, 2016 killed six ski mountaineers on Schneebiger Nock (3358m) in Ahrntal, Italy. This is reportedly the most deadly avalanche accident in the South Tyrol in 25 years.
Six deaths, including a 16-year-old boy. This is the tragic outcome of the enormous avalanche that was triggered two days ago just below the summit of Schneebiger Nock / Monte Nevoso in Ahrntal, a side valley in Pustertal in Northern Italy. According to the local newspaper Südtiroler Tageszeitung, this is the most deadly avalanche incident in the South Tyrol in 25 years and it resulted in the deaths of one Austrian, Horst Wallner (49), and five South Tyroleans: Margit Gasser (32), Matthias Gruber (16), Christian Kopfsguter (21), Alexander Rieder (42) and Bernhard Stoll (43).
On Saturday morning fifteen ski mountaineers split into different groups ascended the West Face of the second highest mountain in the Rieserferner group when, at circa 11:00am, the immense avalanche broke off at circa 3200m, close to a point called the "ski deposit" since ski tourers often leave their skis there and continue to the summit on foot. Eight ski mountaineers managed to escape the avalanche, while seven were hit. Only only person was pulled out alive by the rescue operations that were alerted immediately; four helicopters worked on the scene of the accident.
Raffael Kostner, founder of the Aiut Alpin Dolomites mountain rescue service, explained to the local newspaper Alto Adige "We have rarely had to deal with a rescue operation of this entity and magnitude. The operations were extremely difficult due to the high altitude. Helicopters have difficulty flying safely at altitudes above three thousand meters. So they fly with very little fuel and all superfluous equipment is left on the ground."
Hans Kammerlander, an iconic figure in Himalayan alpinism and mountain guide who happens to live nearby at Ahornach in the Ahrntal, told the Italian news Agency ANSA "The avalanche on Schneebiger Nock was nothing but a tragic fatality. It was totally unpredictable. I wouldn’t have had any doubts and would have gone up there with clients. It was only due to chance that I wasn’t there yesterday. The weather conditions and the avalanche report didn’t predict anything of this sort."
The avalanche danger was 2 out of 5. According to Alto Adige, all people involved in the accident wore an avalanche beacon. The video published above, filmed by the Kassler Hütte hut warden Arnold Seeber two days after the accident, shows the fracture line of the avalanche which is circa 2m high.