UKC

Dozens of Fatalities in the Alps

In one month, a series of tragedies in the Swiss and French Alps took the lives of about thirty people.

At the end of July eight climbers were surprised by incoming bad weather while climbing Mont Blanc (4808m) from Chamonix. Lost halfway up the French Normal Route, heavy snowstorms kept the party from finding a way out. Rescue workers from the PGHM (high mountain police) tried to find them in horrible conditions, and were forced down by thunderstorms. Finally there was a small window of clear weather when a helicopter was able to pick up a group of four from the Italian side of the mountain. The other four (one Frenchman and three women from Great Britain, Chile and New Zealand) were found dead the next day.

That same day six German climbers got in trouble on the Italian side of Monte Rosa (4634 m) and were forced to spend the night, without bivy gear, outside in a storm. The next day one woman was found dead and another seriously incapacitated due to hypothermia. At the Grand Combin (4314m) a Polish climber fell to his death, and in the Swiss Bernese Oberland rescue workers saved the lives of six climbers who were stuck near the summit of the Monch. Through a storm they climbed the mountain to find all six shivering in the snow. The helicopter winched some of them; the others descended by foot. The chief of the Grindelwald rescue station said it was one of the most strenuous rescue operations in recent years.

In the week following, two climbers died on the Matterhorn. Both fell to their death while descending via the Hornli Ridge.

Full report by Menno Boermans at Alpinist.com



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