Mystery of bodies in the woods

The bodies of two skiers have been found yesterday evening at the foot of a couloir in la Grave. The first body was discovered by a mountain guide in the vallon d’Orcière at 2000 meters altitude. A helicopter search of the area by the High Mountain Police from Briançon discovered a second body 100 meters higher up at the foot of the cliff face.

The man were not on the standard route but a variant that takes a steep and enclosed couloir. One theory the police are working on is that the men were in les Deux Alpes and skied over to la Grave by mistake. They would have crossed the Girose glacier before descending the vallon d’Orcière towards the Fréaux woods. The men were not properly equipped for a descent of the couloir which has a number of cliff bands and ice falls. Last Friday three young Belgium snowboarders had a narrow escape after becoming lost in the Fréaux after descening from les Deux Alpes.

The police still have to find the identity of the men, one aged in his 20s and the other 40s. They had no identity papers and no one has been reported missing in either la Grave or les Deux Alpes. If you have any information contact the Gendarmerie at la Grave.

Posted by davidof on Wednesday, 13 February, 2008 at 02:41 PM

The Dauphine Libere has some information about this incident in today’s edition. The two men, a father aged 45 and son aged 22, were staying in les Deux Alpes. They intended to descend the Vallons de la Meije and bought a return ticket for the lift at les Deux Alpes.

It seems the men did not traverse across to the top station of la Grave but descended down the Girose glacier. They were not equipped for glacier travel or for making the abseils necessary on the routes of the Girose. The men were at the top of an icefall having left their skis and were looking for a route down when they fell 100 meters to their deaths. The accident occurred around midday. It is unclear why both men fell - the police have suggested a snow slide but investigators found no evidence to support this claim at the scene. The accident happened in the couloir d’Orciere above the hamlet of la Grand Clot. Guides Chad Vanderham and Doug Coombs died on the nearby couloir de la Polichinelle last year in a fall over cliffs.

The zone where the men fell has good mobile phone coverage. While warning skiers to take care, especially on high mountain routes, the Police have said that people should not hesitate to contact them (112 - international rescue services number) if they get into difficulty. They went on to warn skiers and snowboarders who are not accompanied by a guide that they need to be equipped for all possibilities, especially when tackling the complex and difficult high mountain routes of la Grave and les Deux Alpes. They means carrying harnesses, ropes and abseil equipment.

Posted by davidof on  Thursday, 14 February, 2008  at 11:29 AM

What an absolutely unecessary and tragic waste of life.

What price a guide and basic equipment.

Posted by  on  Thursday, 14 February, 2008  at 03:34 PM

Yes it is terrible. The paper said their families were in les 2 alpes and are of course in severe shock. It reminds me of the couple killed by an avalanche in la Plagne 2 years ago leaving 4 kids in resort… although they were with a guide.

Posted by davidof on  Thursday, 14 February, 2008  at 03:49 PM

La Grave lives up to its name again. This region is deadly and its time the Fernch Authorities started thinking about blocking the route to all except pre booked guided descents. A tragic story. One can only imagine the fear as theyfell.

Posted by  on  Saturday, 16 February, 2008  at 07:44 PM

Although the avalanche risk has been around 1 to 2 for most of the month. Generally 1 early on rising to 2 as slopes warm there is a further reminder of the icy condtions today.


After an extensive search the body of a snowshoer, a 28 year old University lecturer from Lyon, has been near the Grand Som in the Chartreuse range. He appears to have lost his footing and fallen over cliffs close to the col des Aures. The area is very steep, bordering on an extreme ski route.

The police had searched the area after finding his car parked at the trail head.

Posted by davidof on  Friday, 22 February, 2008  at 05:12 PM
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