An ice fall above the route taken by climbers to the 4807 meter summit of Mont Blanc near Chamonix triggered a 400 meter long avalanche of ice and snow yesterday afternoon around 15h00. The slide was triggered by a sérac collapse and hit a group of six British soldiers who were at the foot of the Mont Blanc du Tacul (4248m). The soldiers had completed a team building exercise and were descending to the aiguille du Midi.
Two of the victims were able to free themselves from the slide, three others were rescued by members of the PGHM from Chamonix (High Mountain Police) and a sixth man was killed by the avalanche. Parts of the sérac were still threatening the route today.
Fifty rescue workers, including avalanche dogs and their handlers, were dispatched to the scene of the accident by two helicopters. Summer avalanches and sérac falls are not uncommon, especially on high mountain areas such as the Mont-Blanc. On average 20% of avalanche accidents occur in this period including three deaths last summer on Mont-Blanc. Rescue workers have blamed large temperature variations at altitude over recent days which have destablised ice and snow.
Two French and two Spanish climbers have been reported missing on the Italian side of Mont-Blanc this week and another man was killed yesterday after loosing his footing while descending from the aiguille du Goûter.
The bodies of the four climbers were recovered yesterday afternoon on the Mont Blanc de Courmayeur. They had fallen some 900 meters from the Brouillard ridge which leads to Mont Blanc as the result of a slab avalanche. Christophe Lys, one of the French victims was active on the website [url=http://www.skirando.ch]http://www.skirando.ch[/url]