A “fake” Polish guide has been arrested by the Gendarmerie after abandonning two of his clients at the Tete Rouse refuge (3167m) during a climb of Mont-Blanc. A group of four made contact with the guide via the Internet and paid 1500 euros for the trip. After being left buy the guide two of the group were apparently able to make it down to the valley but the other two, exhausted, had to summon the rescue services (who were not best pleased) by using a distress beacon in the refuge.
Regional paper the Dauphine Libere <DL: 21st May 2007 http://www.ledauphine.com/ > has a long report but uses it to beat its familiar anti-English drum conflating the Polishman pretending to be a high mountain guide with British Tour Operators who employ staff to orient guests around ski pistes. In fairness it is a long time I’ve lived in Chamonix but relations seem to have soured further since the local Tourism director M. Prud’homme called on the “English” to go home.
Although the UIAGM certification is the gold standard in Europe it should be noted that in many countries, including Eastern Europe, Turkey and Canada, local guides operate with no or lower qualifications. Groups frequently talk of leaving their “guides” on the mountain while they continue to the summit, but these are experienced mountaineers for whom the guide is a more a liason officer in the sense of the pre-war Himalyan expeditions. For the Polish left on Mont-Blanc it was altogether a more serious proposition. Their “guide” has been summoned before the Bonneville court on the 18th of June although the police don’t think he’ll turn up despite Poland now being part of the EU.