Committee rejects proposed Alpine safety law

The Committee for Alpine Safety today (Tues) rejected a proposed law on Alpine safety.Committee President Karl Gabl said: “In high Alpine areas, climbers have always been responsible for themselves.”Gabl claimed the criminal code already applied to hooligans on and off pistes and there was no need for additional legislation.He also said an Alpine safety law would be unenforceable in practice since comprehensive police coverage of Alpine regions was “illusory, senseless and unnecessary.” Neither the existing Alpine police nor other organisations could provide it.Gabl added that reports of avalanche danger should not be used as indicators to regulate skiing and ski touring.”They are regional evaluations that cannot be applied to individual cases,” he said.Long-term statistics show that an average of 26 people die in avalanches in the Austrian Alps every year.In a related development, calls have recently been made for a code of conduct for ski tourers amid warnings they have been endangering wildlife.The Styrian Agriculture Chamber, The Austrian Alpine Association and the Styrian Hunting Fraternity called last month for a code including ten regulations calling on people to remain on marked trails, avoid areas of young forest growth and ski only in areas with sufficient snow.They added the next step would be for provincial and local tourism offices to start an information campaign to make ski tourers aware of the problems they could cause.Agriculture Chamber Vice President Johann Resch said people on ski tours who left marked trails posed a danger to trees and wildlife.He added 700,000 Austrians took part in ski touring each winter in Alpine forests and the number was increasing by five per cent annually – a trend he claimed was good for the tourism industry but put trees and wildlife in greater danger.He claimed wild animals awoken from hibernation by people on ski tours could starve.