France blasted by Artic Storms

We’ve been hoping to get you some pics of the snow but the weather has been just too bad the last few days. More seriously the bodies of two climbers, one from Annecy and the other from Marseille, have been found on Monday at 4200 meters on Mont Blanc in the dôme du Goûter area. The thirty year olds had first contacted the mountain rescue on Saturday at 20h00 after getting lost on the mountain. Although conditions were good earler in the day the weather closed in later. The PGHM based in Chamonix attempted two helicopter reconnaisance missions but were unable to locate the men due to poor visibility, snow and high winds.

At first light on Sunday two rescue workers were dropped at the Goûter refuge and explored the Dome, despite atrocious conditons, without finding any trace of the missing alpinists. The rescuers were climbing in 40 to 50cm of snow. The weather closed in further and no futher missions were attempted until the evening when three missons were flown. The bodies of the men were found in a shallow snow cave which the missing climbers had dug in a crevasse. They had probably died from exposure in the high winds. There is up to 80cm of snow on the summit.

The storms have affected many hiking routes throughout the Alps as well as affecting access to refuges. In the Ecrins a number of foot bridges have been washed away by flash floods and repair teams, some equipped with heavy machinery are attempting to repair the worst of the damage. Acces to the Refuges des Écrins and to the Glacier Blanc is currently prohibited, the footbridge has been washed away and the stream is impassible. The Vénéon valley is impracticle after rockslides and the river has burst its banks in Vallouise. Access to la Bérarde was impossible for a number of hours after a mud slide washed away a number of cars parked at Champhorent, the car park at the start of the path to the refuge de la Lavey.  A family had to be rescued on the path between the refuge du Carrelet and refuge de la Bérarde after being trapped by floods.

In short check with the National Park or Tourist Offices before heading for the mountains at the moment.

Posted by davidof on Tuesday, 19 July, 2011 at 11:19 PM

There was a nice covering of snow on the mountains this morning, I would estimate it falling from 2000m in the Belledonne range, maybe lower further north.

A number of mountain passes have difficult conditions and with the high winds watch out for avalanche risk at altitude (Mont Blanc/Ecrins etc).

Posted by davidof on  Wednesday, 20 July, 2011  at 09:26 AM

There is still some snow around above 2300m. The conditions on Mont Blanc are wintery with the avalanche risk described as “high”. There is 30cm of fresh above the Aiguille du Midi. Weather is better today but with thick cloud on the summits.

Posted by davidof on  Monday, 25 July, 2011  at 10:27 AM
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