In January 2021, a mountain guide died in an avalanche in the Siviez/Nendaz region. The public prosecutor of the canton of Valais subsequently commissioned a judicial report and is now warning of used Mammut Airbag 3.0 Light Protection 2017 avalanche backpacks. The manufacturer, Mammut, considers the test results to be misleading and has issued a statement.

A week ago, the public prosecutor's office in the canton of Valais published the results of a judicial report examining the circumstances of a fatal avalanche accident in 2021. She warns that with certain avalanche backpack models there is a risk that the airbag balloon will tear off. Mammoth considers the published test results to be misleading and feels obliged to comment.

Prosecutor issues warning

Even if the causal connection between the resistance of the fasteners that connect the avalanche backpack to the balloon and the death of the victim has not been proven according to the current status of the proceedings, the public prosecutor warns that there is a risk with used avalanche backpacks of the Mammut Airbag 3.0 Light Protection 2017 type that the airbag balloon ruptures.

Use reduces toughness

The public prosecutor directs their press release to the users of the Mammut Airbag 3.0 Light Protect model 2017 avalanche backpacks, to draw their attention to the fact that the resistance of the fastenings decreases significantly as soon as these backpacks are used and are therefore exposed to factors such as sun or moisture that degrade them.

«It is not possible to determine the decrease in resistance according to the number of uses. It cannot be ruled out that such a problem also exists with airbag backpacks from other brands with a similar design," says the communiqué.

Mammut: Test at an inadmissible testing institute

The manufacturer of the affected airbag system considers the published test results to be misleading and therefore feels it is its duty to correct the facts. Mammut points out that the world's only approved testing institute for avalanche airbag backpacks and systems is TÜV Süd in Germany.

"Knowing about this fact, the public prosecutor's office nevertheless commissioned the French ski and mountain guide school ENSA to carry out the tests, which is neither specialized nor authorized for the development of tests on airbag systems," specifies Mammut.

The mountain sports outfitter emphasizes that the Valais public prosecutor's office explicitly points out that there is no causal connection between the "extremely regrettable death" and an "alleged failure to function properly with the avalanche backpack". Accordingly, no charges will be brought against the company and no legal action will be taken against employees.

Mammut detects exceeding competence

Mammut further criticizes the fact that the results of the investigation were not communicated to her until the communiqué was sent and that no dialogue was sought. "The public prosecutor's office is not a market surveillance authority and assumes a function that is not part of its competence."

The Mammut Removable Airbag System 3.0 was tested by the Swiss market supervisory authority in 2022. "The check showed that the product meets the legal requirements in the aspects checked by the market surveillance authority," says Mammut.

Complete statement from Mammit

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Credits: Cover picture Michael Hejman

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