Nine ski mountaineers in separate groups have been hit by an avalanche on the Three Mont-Blancs (TMB) route, the normal way to the summit of Mont-Blanc above Chamonix. The avalanche, measuring 350 by 300 meters was triggered just after 7h00 at around 4,200 meters on the Epaule du Mont-Blanc du Tacul. Although only some 20 to 30cm deep the slide reached the Col Maudit. The alert was given by the guardian of the Cosmiques refuge which is situated just below the Aiguille du Midi.
Amongst those involved were a guide and his client. No-one was buried by the slide but six of the skiers suffered from fractures and sprains requiring treatment in Chamonix hospital. An avalanche expert told PisteHors that the accident could easily have been more serious given the presence of seracs and rimayes in the area. Last July two climbers were killed after being swept into a crevasse by an avalanche on the North face of the Mont-Blanc du Tacul
The Trois-Monts-Blancs is favoured by the Chamonix Guides company over the Grand Mulets route due to the dangers of ice fall above the Grand Mulets refuge. However there have been recent warnings that the TMB route is becoming increasingly dangerous due to the risk of serac fall when crossing under the north faces of the Tacul and Maudit. Last Wednesday a paraglider was injured by ice-fall when climbing on this route. Climbers and skiers have been warned to cross these zones as rapidly as possible. Skiers are reminded that conditions are still winter at altitude with the attendant risk of slab avalanches. Several amateur groups in contact with PisteHors had abandoned plans to summit Mont-Blanc by the TMB route this weekend due to the recent snowfall, some 40cm fell at altitude on Friday night, coupled with strong northerly winds. Further snow is expected on Monday night and the continuing strong northerly winds may form some new slabs at altitude.
A female ski mountaineer has been killed on the Turia glacier on the north face of Mont Turia (3650m). The accident happened at 2,900 meters altitude just before midday. The skier slid and fell 100 meters over cliffs after a technical error. Luc Thollet from Bivouak.net reports that the slopes were very icy even around midday in the area today.