Climbers killed by avalanche on Mont-Blanc

An avalanche on the Mont-Blanc du Tacul has hit a group of four Swiss climbers this morning around 9h00. A 40 year old climber was killed by the slide. A search is continuing for a 39 year old guide who it is believed was swept into a rimaye (a crevasse formed where the top of a glacier joins the mountain) by the avalanche. A female climber was heliported in a serious condition to hospital in Sallanches. She had been under the snow for 90 minutes. Two Italian climbers were also on the route at 4100 meters.

mont blanc du tacul
Mont Blanc du Tacul. Photo: Daniel Carollo

Summer avalanches are not uncommon at altitude. Last August two climbers were killed by an avalanche on the same route. There have been 19 avalanche deaths in France since the 1st October 2006, one of the lowest figures recorded since 1970 thanks largely to stable snow conditions and poor ski conditions off-piste which have discouraged backcountry travellers.

Posted by davidof on Sunday, 17 June, 2007 at 01:12 PM

Overnight snow has made the search site very dangerous. A helicopter has overflown the scene this morning. The rope, presumably still attached to the guide, is visible at the edge of the rimaye. The condition of the woman, rescued yesterday, is said to be improving.

Posted by davidof on  Monday, 18 June, 2007  at 01:20 PM

Re:Climbers killed by avalanche on Mont-Blanc

Dear Sir/Madam,
Is there any new news on the guide that was still buried when the article was written - and on the woman in hospital ?

Posted by  on  Tuesday, 19 June, 2007  at 10:55 AM

The woman is out of danger, which is good news after 90 minutes under snow. We can only assume the worst for the guide, the conditions were too bad yesterday for the rescue helicopter to land anyone. With a return to more stable conditions the search should resume today but the guide’s body could be under a considerable depth of snow so the recovery operation may be long and complicated.

Posted by davidof on  Tuesday, 19 June, 2007  at 11:37 AM

To the mountain rescue team,

I would thankyou very much for the way you dealt with the incident on Mont-Blanc du Tacul on Sunday 17th June 2007. I was in a group of two climbing on the mountain approx 150m below the avalanche when it happened. The speed and professional response in which you dealt with the incident was amazing. I would like to thankyou for checking that we were o.k, You have a very difficult job to do, and you do it in very bad conditions under difficult circumstances, and remain calm and professional at all times.  The bravery that you show is to be commended.  Once again thank you very much for checking we were ok, and for doing the best you could for those above us who were less fortunate.
All the best for the future guys, my thoughts are with you.

Matt Venables

Posted by  on  Tuesday, 19 June, 2007  at 10:12 PM

Hi Matt, I forwarded your email to the PGHM in Chamonix. The guide didn’t survive the slide.

There was another avalanche incident yesterday afternoon on the Italian side of Mont-Blanc. A group of five Polish climbers were hit by the slide as they were climbing on the Toula glacier. Two of the group managed to descend and raise the alarm. Three others, including a woman, were killed by the slide. As you can see from our trip report in the Pic des Trois Eveches there has been considerable fresh snow this week accompanied by strong winds at altitude.

Posted by davidof on  Friday, 06 July, 2007  at 09:59 PM
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