Mont Blanc avalanche, little hope for 8 climbers

Rescue services in Chamonix have said there is little hope of finding eight missing climbers, buried by an avalanche on Mont Blanc early today, alive. Two missing Italians checked in with the authorities when they returned to the valley.

The avalanche struck at 3 am at 3600 meters on the normal route to Mont Blanc under the Mont Blanc du Tacul. The conditions were described as “excellent “ although this part of the route is known for its avalanche risk. The slide is thought to have been triggered by a serac fall and measured 200 by 50 meters. The roped climbing groups would have had little chance of escape in the dark. 40 rescue workers with avalanche dogs attended the scene, it is unusual for climbers to wear avalanche beacons. The search operation was complicated by the high risk of secondary avalanches. The missing climbers include five men from Austria, one a guide from the Tyrol and three Swiss. It is the largest loss of life in a French avalanche since an avalanche hit the village of Montroc above Chamonix in 1999.

Posted by davidof on Sunday, 24 August, 2008 at 05:31 PM

It’s not the Mont Blanc on which the avalanche happened, it’s the Mont Blanc du Tacul, the first of the three peaks on the Trois Montagne route, of which the Mont Blanc itself is the third peak.

Posted by LT on  Sunday, 24 August, 2008  at 09:25 PM

This is very sad… but why do they not wear their trancievers?

Posted by  on  Monday, 25 August, 2008  at 09:48 AM

Very sad indeed and one of those things that the mountains throw at us to prove their power. No fault can be laid at the feet of those involved or at those of anyone else.

Climbers seldom wear transceivers even if they would when skiing in the winter. No good reason, just habit…

Posted by powderhound on  Monday, 25 August, 2008  at 10:56 AM

The bodies of the climbers have now been localized thanks to their avalanche beacons. It seems at least 7 of the victims were wearing beacons. However recovery will be very difficult as some of the victims are buried under 30 meters of snow, no doubt swept into crevasses. More details of the victims, 4 were German and amongst the Swiss was a guide.

Posted by davidof on  Monday, 25 August, 2008  at 08:27 PM

What a nightmare, especially in the dark, roped up and with no escape.  Awful.

Posted by Dongshow on  Monday, 25 August, 2008  at 08:43 PM
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