Top image: The snow avalanche on Fridtjovbreen on 20 February 2020 killed two people. Photo: Kjetil Slettnes/Regobs.no.
An English version of the accident report on the tragic avalanche accident on Fridtjovbreen in February 2020, has now been published.
26 November 2020
Press release from The University Centre in Svalbard (UNIS)
The Arctic Safety Centre at UNIS was in charge of the accident report, written by a working group consisting of participants from Longyearbyen Red Cross Avalanche Group, local observers, Varsom.no and UNIS. The Norwegian version of the report was released in June this year, and now an English version has been published.
The report describes the avalanche itself, contains information about the weather conditions in the days leading up to 20 February and points out the lessons learned from this tragic accident.
On 20 February 2020 a local tour operator arranged a snow scooter trip with 5 guests and 2 guides from the Russian settlement Barentsburg. The goal of the trip was the glacier front of the Fridtjovbreen. Along the way, the group took a detour from the main route to look at an ice cave / ice formation at a melt water channel on the Fridtjovbreen. The route that was followed goes through different types of terrain, mainly land and glaciers. The ice cave the group wanted to look at is part of the melt water channels along the Marcussenfjellet on Fridtjovbreen. To get to the ice cave, the scooter group drove close to the mountainside and into a recess to park the scooters at the entrance to the cave. The terrain in which they parked is an outlet area under a steep slope. The three first scooters in the group were about to park and stood still – while the rest of the group followed behind and were in motion as the snow avalanche loosened from the steep slope above them. When the avalanche stopped, two people were completely buried, two people were partially buried, and three people were not buried. Tragically the two people who were completely buried died in the avalanche.
The English version of the report can be downloaded here (PDF): Report of avalanche accident on Fridtjovbreen in Svalbard in February 2020
The Norwegian report can be downloaded from Varsom.no on this link.
For questions about the report, contact the Arctic Safety Centre: Martin Indreiten