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Champion Snowboarder Luca Pandolfi Dies in Avalanche

The pro splitboarder's beacon was torn away from him during the avalanche

Italian freeride snowboard champion Luca Pandolfi died in an avalanche in the Alps while splitboarding in Italy’s Gran San Bernardo Valley.

L’Unione Sardia reported that the 47-year-old “launched into his umpteenth breathtaking descent, but this time an avalanche dragged him down the valley, leaving him no way out.” He and backcountry partner were attempting to descend a 1,900-metre couloir after heavy snow had ticked up the avalanche danger to high and considerable.

Chamonix-based Pandolfi dropped into the couloir first, and triggered the avalanche after only a few turns. The avalanche ripped his beacon from his body at some point. A canine unit later found his body.

Pandolfi was one of the area’s leading backcountry splitboarders with fans around the world. After riding the Gran Couloir de la Brenva on Mont Blanc in 2013, he said it was “a journey to another dimension.”

Pandolfi started snowboarding in 1991 at the age of 18., and over the past 30 years, he gained experience on everything from winning freeride competitions to riding with Jeremy Jones in his trilogy of backcountry snowboard films, Deeper, Further and Higher.

There have been over a dozen avalanche deaths of top backcountry users this winter. With spring here in Canada, avalanches will continue to be an issue in the mountains for a few more months. Be sure to check Avalanche Canada before heading out.