Avalanche accident report published

The snow avalanche on Fridtjovbreen on 20 February 2020 killed two people. Photo: The Governor of Svalbard.

Top image: The snow avalanche on Fridtjovbreen on 20 February 2020 killed two people. Photo: The Governor of Svalbard.

In February this year there was a tragic avalanche accident on Fridtjovbreen, where two people perished. Now the accident report has been published, penned by the Arctic Safety Centre at UNIS.

4 June 2020
Press release by UNIS

On 20 February 2020 a local tour operator arranged a scoter 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 meltwater 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 Arctic Safety Centre at UNIS has now penned an accident report, written by a working group consisting of participants from Longyearbyen Red Cross Avalanche Group, local observers, Varsom.no and UNIS. In addition to describing the avalanche itself, the report contains information about the weather conditions in the days leading up to 20 February and pointing out the lessons learned from this tragic accident.

The report is in Norwegian but will be translated into English at a later stage. The report can be downloaded from Varsom.no: https://varsom.no/nytt/ulykkesrapporter-sno/snoskred-dodsulykke-fridtjofbreen-marcussenfjellet-spitsbergen-svalbard-20-februar-2020/?fbclid=IwAR3rIzUs4mgC0ESqD1lXv6ER0wYBoymtFLC-FobJspRL2qmnmVq7LSJyO_k

Arctic Safety Centre contact person: Martin Indreiten



Arctic Safety Centre Press releases