In the Ecrins there is still no news of a pair of climbers, missing since Saturday. The party were attempting the 3800 meter Rateau having left the refuge de la Selle at 3am. The poor weather has hindered the search operation but footprints have been spotted on the summit ridge.
30cm of fresh snow has fallen in the sector since the men disappeared.
There was 50cm of snow overnight at the refuge with low cloud. Visibility was very limited. Towards the end of the morning the slopes on the north face of the Goûter began to purge. No-one moved from the refuge.
Around 1pm groups who had come from the Nid d’Aigle (tramway de St Gervais) started to arrive and head up to the Refuge du Goûter. They obviously had made a different risk assessment. We saw a group of guides with their clients. 1 guide for two clients as is the rule on Mont Blanc. They climbed the arête Payot. Seeing this a number of other groups decided to follow.
At about 4pm they were blocked below the summit and decided to climb down. Shortly afterwards a guide with his two clients slipped and fell. In the first instance the other guides came to the aid of the group. They were followed by a doctor and members of the Chamonix rescue services. The visibility was very poor by this stage. Impossible to comment on the cause of the accident.
No trace has been found of the missing climbers after a week of extensive searching and the operation has been scaled down.
A 28 year old British climber died on the Pic Coolidge in the Ecrins yesterday.
The bodies of the two missing climbers have been recovered at 3100m on the east side of the Rateau. It seems likely they fell 500m from the ridge during the descent, provoking an avalanche which covered their bodies.