Rescue crews found the bodies of four experienced ski tourers missing since Monday afternoon after a large avalanche in the Sunndalsfjella mountains in Møre og Romsdal. The crews found three of the men soon after the search resumed on Wednesday morning, and were relieved to find the fourth man a short time later before the avalanche risk heightened during the day.
Strong winds, poor visibility and a high avalanche danger hampered search efforts on Monday night and throughout Tuesday. On Tuesday morning a helicopter crew detected a weak signal from a rescue beacon where an avalanche had swept through, reported newspaper Adressa. Police were confident the signal was from the missing men, but warned the avalanche had been so large, the chance of finding them alive was minimal. The avalanche danger was too high to send in ground crews.
Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) reported clearing weather on Wednesday morning meant helicopters could finally fly rescuers into the avalanche zone. The search began at five in the morning, and by eight o’clock police confirmed they had found three of the four men. “The weather has been just what we hoped for,” said district sheriff Hallvard Vermøy. “Three of the victims have been found, and we found them relatively quickly – within an hour of searching.”
He warned rising temperatures would increase the risk of triggering more avalanches, and crews may have to be pulled out. “At some point we might have to call off the search, but we’re continuing for now,” Vermøy said. “We have high hopes of finding the fourth person.” The last man was found shortly before 10 o’clock, and crews got to work bringing the bodies down from the mountain.
The four were first reported missing on Monday afternoon. They were part of a group of six ski tourers, who split into two parties and were due to meet up again at the Brandstabu tourist hut at the top of Øksendal. The two skiers raised the alarm when the group of four failed to show up.
The four were in their late 20s to early 30s, and were all experienced mountain men in good shape. All four men were equipped with avalanche search and rescue gear, reported Adressa. One was from Sunndal, 26 or 27 years old, and had just finished his career as a professional cyclist. He was described as a very good skier. Two of the men lived in Trondheim. One, born in 1977 was an elite athlete who recorded one of the best times in the extreme Norseman triathlon in 2012. The other, born in 1976, was a very experienced skier who’d won several competitions. Adressa did not report details of the fourth man.