Very, very sad. I was up skiing the Durrand Glacier with SME 2 weeks ago. What a beautiful, professional operation. Each Saturday, a group of 20 skiers is helicoptered in for the entire week. Each group is then helicoptered out the next Sat AM as the next group is brought in. 2 groups of ten skiers are guided for the entire week. Ruedi Beglinger leads one group and either Ken or Darci (guides) lead the other. The first trip out on Sat AM is always Avy and beacon training. No one is allowed to ski without a guide.
The snowpack was unstable a portion of the time I was there. We skied exclusively tree runs during this time. As the snowpack improved we climbed and skied some faces although we were not able to access the glaciers. I was in awe of Ruedi's professionalism and knowledge as he would give a briefing on snow conditions every morning as a prelude to our tour. We climbed 5,000 ft/day, skied some of the sweetest powder runs of our lives and we enjoyed every minute of it.
I think we were cognizant of the fact that we were in a remote area, however we were skiing with one of the most experienced guides in the world. Ruedi was extremely conservative and cautious. In 15 + years of guiding, I do not believe there has every been a casualty at the Durrand Glacier. I can only imagine that this slide was huge and completely freakish in nature. We always skinned on steep slopes with plenty of spacing. My heart is heavy for the families, victims, and the SME family as well. I have not met a warmer, more gracious, humble, and genuine group of people in my life.