Skier missing on the Vallee Blanche

A Lithuanian skier has been missing since Friday afternoon after attempting a descent of the Vallée Blanche above Chamonix. An extensive search for the 26 year old man had found no trace.

The head of the high mountain police (PGHM) section in Chamonix said that the man, who was skiing alone, was poorly equipped for the descent and had neither the technical abilities nor the terrain knowledge to attempt such a route. In season thousands of skiers descend the Valley Blanche each day but it is heavily crevassed in places and should always be skied with someone proficient in crevasse rescue.

No one on the route saw any trace of the man – clothed in jeans and a leather jacket. The lift operators on the Aiguille du Midi had tried to dissuade the man from setting out on the run.

Further Information

Danger, Crevasse
Louis Lachenal the star that fell to earth
Brit Boarder in Valley Blanche Crevasse Fall
Fatal crevasse fall in vallee blanche sector

Posted by davidof on Monday, 14 January, 2008 at 05:03 AM

Hi, le Dauphiné Liberé reported him as 25 years old (other reports said 26), and his name as Andrius Glozeckas. In a longer article on Sunday they mentioned the people at the store where he’d rented his skis also tried to dissuade him from attempting the route, and at least convinced him to also rent a harness and crampons.

The lift operator quoted him as asking in French “Where is the piste?” as he reached the top of the Aiguille and he told him there was no piste here and suggested he return to the valley, but the man refused to descend and demanded to be told the way to ski down. So the lift operator tried to indicate the easiest tourist route, but then noted the man heading off in the opposite direction once he got down the arrete, using stem turns.

It was also reported that two Swedish skiers who were rescued by helicopter Friday from the Petit Envers du Plan sector after one of them had a crevasse fall also reported seeing him in a heavily crevassed area between the tourist route and the Petit Envers du Plan route, but at the time no one realized he was in trouble or missing. His landlady gave the alert to the PGHM on Friday night when he did not return. The search was called off on the 13th (he disappeared on the afternoon of the 11th).

Hate to say it, but how can people be this blindly stupid? It happens year after year, despite the posted signs, despite the warnings from personel at the Aiguille and at times despite warnings from other skiers on the route there is always someone who dies like this either on the Vallee Blanche or on the way to Mont Blanc, completely oblivious to the serious nature of these mountains. A Darwin award candidate?

A much shortened version of the newspaper article is online in French:

Posted by  on  Wednesday, 16 January, 2008  at 08:18 PM

Emmanuel ADAMI had this to say on

I was working on the Aiguille that day, maintaining the ridge that leads to the Vallée Blanche. With my colleague we saw the man pass with his leather jacket and jeans but without any safety gear. There was a tempest in the sector. We spoke to him in English (which he understood as he replied to us that everything was ok) and told him not to go down but to return to the left station. We told him he was taking an enormous risk, especially with respect to crevasses. That same message is displayed in various places around the lifts. I also know that the lift crew also took the time to speak to him about the risks.

We can’t stop people skiing the Vallée blanche. That person, like many others, decided to ski this route without having the necessary skills - in his case using snow plough turns nor the required equipment without getting into high mountain experience.

We spend a lot of our time speaking and informing skiers especially when they are not properly equipped. Some understand and make a U-turn, some don’t care and some are downright rude. One can criticise all that but that is just how it is.

Posted by davidof on  Thursday, 17 January, 2008  at 11:13 AM

I knew him, only met him once, he was a nice guy, full of life and definitely not unintelligent.

What Andrius did was crazy and stupid but he has a family and friends who mourn him. 

Please show some respect at least for his family, I don’t think comments about Darwin awards are in good taste.

Posted by  on  Monday, 21 January, 2008  at 09:59 AM

It is a real shame. His family may never know what happened to him.

I think Firechick is more expressing a general frustration with skiers on the VB felt by some in Chamonix.

Posted by davidof on  Monday, 21 January, 2008  at 10:46 AM

I understand it must be very frustraiting to people who see this happening every year, I just thought the darwin comment was going a little too far.  It’s easy to read these stories and feel detached, but when it happens to someone you know it’s different.

Lets just hope someone reads this story and learns from it.

Posted by  on  Monday, 21 January, 2008  at 12:37 PM
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