A British skier has recounted his dramatic rescue of his son, who was buried in deep snow near Chamonix, in a warning to other skiers to take care when straying off piste.
Gillon Campbell was skiing with his family at Le Tour, in the French Alps, in “beautiful” conditions last December. They decided to go along a gully between two pistes in the fresh powdery snow. Back on the piste, however, there was no sign of Campbell’s eldest son, 11-year-old Fox, an experienced skier himself.
Campbell says he figured Fox was ahead with his wife, but when he got to her, he wasn’t there. So, he went back up a ski-lift to retrace his route. Back in the gully, he says, he saw “the snow was different”. He turned on his transceiver, and it showed him someone was in the snow, really close by.
“I just dug like everything in the world mattered to me,” Campbell says in video released by La Chamoniarde, a local rescue agency. He uncovered his son’s head about one-and-a-half meters under the snow.
“That was a really, really scary moment,” Campbell recalls. “I’ve never been so scared … I won’t forget the moment I got to hold him. He was so cold, but he was alive.”
Campbell says he wanted to share his story because the dangerous situation happened so easily. “We were not far from the piste,” he says.
La Chamoniarde said the incident showed skiers need to “beware of a false sense of security when skiing close to the piste.”
“Skiing off-piste carries many risks including avalanches, icy or hard snow, rocky outcrops, cliffs and hole, none of which are signposted,” La Chamoniarde said. “To ski off-piste, you need to know more than just how to ski! You must be aware of the dangers, that way you know how to avoid them,” they said. Credit: La Chamoniarde via Storyful