The Slovenia Times

Five injured in an avalanche

Rescue of mountaineers who were swept by an avalanche below the peak of Velika Mojstrovka.
Photo: Mountain Rescue Association of Slovenia

Five mountaineers were swept by an avalanche while climbing a 2,332-metre peak in the north-west of the country on 9 April in bad weather conditions. No one was killed but three of them sustained serious injuries and had to be airlifted to hospital.

Hampered by fog, wind, snow and rain, the rescue operation went on for about seven hours. More than 50 rescuers and two helicopters were deployed, representatives of the Mountain Rescue Association told reporters in Kranjska Gora after completing the rescue mission below Mala Mojstrovka.

"The accident shows the conditions in the mountains are still wintry, while the arrival of spring and warmer weather is making the conditions even more tricky," Klemen Belhar, the association's deputy chairman, said.

He urged those venturing into mountains to act responsibly and to consider the weather conditions when planning their trip.

The mountaineers were part of a group of seven who climbed Mala Mojstrovka by a demanding climbing route.

Just before descent they were hit by an avalanche, which swept five of them about 150 metres down a ravine. No one was actually buried by the snow and two mountaineers managed to escape the slide, Aleš Robič, the head of the intervention, said.

Despite the bad weather conditions, two helicopters were deployed. These brought rescuers to the level where fog started, and then the rescuers had to climb the remaining 300 metres to reach the injured.

Doctor and pilot Jernej Arh said the three seriously injured sustained lower and upper limb injuries, and in one case a more serious injury to the head and chest. Two remain hospitalised at the UKC Ljubljana medical centre and one at the Jesenice General Hospital.

"Two fractures of the femur, an arm fracture, head and rib injuries," Klemen Gričar, a mountain rescuer involved in the operation, told the news portal N1. "They are extremely lucky to be alive," he added.

Matej Brajnik, the head of the mountain police unit, said the group - five men and two women - appeared to have been carrying appropriate gear. Investigation into what caused the avalanche is still ongoing and the mountaineers will all be interviewed by the police.

The party were reportedly attending a course on safe mountain hiking. According to the Žurnal24 website, the guide was a mountain rescuer, but he did not attend the trip in that capacity.

Apart from members of several local mountain rescue associations, a helicopter of the Slovenian Armed Forces and members of the combined helicopter emergency medical assistance team of the Mountain Rescue Association and the Airborne Police Unit were involved in the effort.


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