Avalanche kills seven Czech mountaineers in Slovakia on New Year's Eve
The very last day of 2005 brought unexpected tragedy to the High Tatra Mountains in Slovakia. Seven Czech climbers died in the early hours on Saturday when an avalanche buried their tents. Only one of the eight-member group managed to dig himself out of the snow and run for help. But it was too late and mountain rescue teams retrieved the dead bodies of six men and one woman in their 20s and 30s. The tragedy raised the death toll of Czech tourists in the High Tatras to twelve in the past year.
"As far as I know the group built their tents in an unsuitable location - right on an avalanche slope. They underestimated or perhaps were ignorant of potential risks and this played a key role in the accident."
The Czech Mountaineering Association has around 10,000 members, most of whom have undergone at least some basic safety and survival training - which, unlike before 1989, is not compulsory. But as Tomas Frank says, no training can guarantee one hundred percent safety - the mountains can be unpredictable and people do make mistakes.