An alpinist slipped 20 meters on a snow field in Lofer in Pinzgau on Saturday. The man, who was traveling in a group of three for a two-day hike, was unharmed. The group then turned back. When the men had to pass several snowfields again, the police said the person who had fallen before did not dare to descend. The three notified the emergency services and were flown down unharmed by the flight police using a rope.
The Germans aged 27 and 28 set off on a two-day hike in Lofer at noon. On the first day they wanted to take the marked trail over the Mayrbergscharte to the old Traunsteinerhütte and spend the night there. The incident happened below the rocky and steep Mayrbergscharte, at an altitude of around 1,900 meters. One of the men slipped while crossing a steep snow field and came to a standstill after about 20 meters uninjured.
A similar incident, which ended less lightly, happened in Tyrol a good two weeks ago: two Germans slipped on a small snowfield while hiking on the Kitzbüheler Horn and fell 145 meters down a steep, rocky gully. The seriously injured couple was rescued by helicopter and flown to Innsbruck State Hospital.
Warning of treacherous snowfields
The Alpine Club recently warned of treacherous old snow fields. Despite the lack of snow in the winter and the spring-like temperatures, there are still the last bits of snow and avalanches at higher altitudes, which can last well into July. After just a few meters, sliding down a 35-degree firn slope, you can reach speeds that can no longer be controlled, experts warned.
But even a less steep slope is sufficient for critical situations. “The old snowfields are often frozen hard. Once you start slipping, you can hardly brake on the icy surfaces. Even if they don’t seem that steep at first glance,” explains Michael Larcher, head of the mountain sports department at the Alpine Club.
Good shoes and snow spikes
According to the Alpine Club, if a hiking trail crosses a steep old snow field, that could be a good reason to abandon a mountain tour. If the hike nevertheless continues and no detour is possible, there are some safety recommendations to consider. “So that you can actually take steps when crossing a snow field, at least the top ten centimeters of the snow cover should be softened,” recommends Larcher, adding: “Good hiking boots are an absolute must.”
An upright posture is also beneficial, with your hips slightly bent in and your center of gravity over the downhill shoe. Hiking sticks help to maintain balance, but cannot prevent slipping. For this reason, Michael Larcher recommends so-called snow spikes: “These can be pulled over any hiking shoe like snow chains. They are ideal for crossing snow fields safely. Spikes are light and can easily be taken on mountain tours.”
More tips in the video: