First death of the summer season on Mont Blanc

As we have continually noted in our snow report conditions are still very unstable above 3000 meters with around half a meter of fresh snow since Sunday. An avalanche may have been responsible for the death of a high mountain guide, Patrick Monzat, late yesterday afternoon. The first death on the normal route of Mont Blanc for the summer season.

The party, consisting of one guide and two clients, residents of Canada was descending the couloir du Goûter at around 3500 meters at 17h00. They were roped together when for reasons yet to be established the party lost their footing and fell several hundred meters. The clients suffered leg injuries in the fall but for Mr Monzat it proved fatal. A climber at the refuge de la Tête Rousse gave the alert and eyewitnesses reported seeing an avalanche although this may have been triggered by, rather than the cause, of the fall.

The PGHM from Chamonix had difficulty reaching the scene due to the conditions and it was finally a ground operation, consisting of eye witnesses and professionals that reached the scene before nightfall.

Posted by davidof on Wednesday, 18 June, 2008 at 11:12 AM

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.

Posted by davidof on  Wednesday, 18 June, 2008  at 11:23 AM

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.

Posted by Red-Head on  Thursday, 19 June, 2008  at 10:21 AM

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.

Posted by davidof on  Saturday, 21 June, 2008  at 11:49 PM

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.

Posted by davidof on  Monday, 23 June, 2008  at 09:59 PM
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