Kiwi dies after Swiss Alps avalanche

Jodie Pralong. Photo: Supplied via NZ Herald
Jodie Pralong. Photo: Supplied via NZ Herald
A New Zealand skier has died after an avalanche swept her and her husband away in the Swiss Alps.

Christchurch-born Jodie Pralong and her Swiss husband Yannick had been skiing in Switzerland's Valais canton near the Italian border on Saturday, February 24.

The pair and another group of two ski tourers left a mountain hut in the afternoon to go to one of the couloirs on the 3600m-high peak Aiguille du Tsa.

An avalanche at the Col de la Tsa buried Jodie, and partially buried the other three.

Yannick and the other two desperately managed to pull Jodie out, and did all they could to save her.

A helicopter rescued the group and took all four to hospital.

Jodie (40) died from her injuries during the night at a hospital in Sion.

Her father, Des Peters, said it had been a "rough" time for the family since learning of her passing.

"It has been very tough for all of us, especially her mother Pauline and twin sister.

"She and Abbie were very tight.

"Jodie was a very outgoing woman, incredibly active and adventurous."

Jodie was born in Christchurch and her ski instructor father had been taking her skiing all around the Southern Alps - and later Europe - since she was 4 years old.

Jodie later became a ski instructor herself, cutting her teeth in the skifields near Christchurch, before hitting the slopes of the Remarkables in Queenstown, Aspen in the United States, and later Switzerland.

"She was very well-known in the ski community," her father said, now "semi-retired" from instructing.

"She was a bit of a super athlete."

Along with skiing she loved running and hiking, and competed in marathons all over the world, including in Budapest, London, Berlin and New York.

In New Zealand she ran the Kepler Challenge, winning her age group.

Her incredible love of travelling was well documented online, as she has traversed formidable rugged mountains and skied down wintry slopes.

Beautiful views of Switzerland, Morocco, Majorca, Canada, Italy, and New Zealand were shared on her blog.

"We are very, very proud of her," Des said.

Peters, his wife and daughter Abbie all travelled to Switzerland for Jodie's funeral, and to spend a week with Yannick.

The pair met about 12 years ago at the Remarkables skifield, and got married a few years later.

"He is a broken man," Peters said.

"He got caught in the avalanche too, and did all he could. Three of them got out. Jodie didn't.

"Avalanches are just part of life in the mountains."

That same day two mountaineers were killed in an avalanche near the Swiss village Gstaad.

After a period of extreme cold and snowfall, the snowpack in the Valais region has been particularly unstable.

Swiss-French newspaper Le Nouvelliste reported eight people had died already from avalanches there this winter.

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