Sunday, September 22, 2013

France: Briton, 30, Plunges 1,000 Feet to His Death While Climbing Mont Blanc

According to The Daily Mail, an unidentified Briton, 30, plunged 1,000 feet to his death (305 meters) in the French Alps at 0930 hours on Saturday (September 21), after scaling Mont Blanc on a section dubbed the "corridor of death."

The victim was with three friends on the Goûter corridor, a popular access route to Europe’s highest mountain, when he "lost his balance," according to police. Although a rescue helicopter was dispatched to the scene, the climber had already died.

The tourist from Newcastle-upon-Tyne was on holiday with eight friends. Unfortunately, they had not retained the services of an experienced guide, which may well have contributed to the man's death.

The entire climbing party had summitted Mont Blanc’s 15,781 feet peak on Friday afternoon (September 20). 

Five members of the party then climbed down and returned to the French town of Chamonix, which sits at the foot of Mont Blanc.
 
The other four had climbed down to a high mountain refuge, which is at an altitude of about 12,600 feet, where they stayed the night on Friday and then continued their descent on Saturday morning.  

COMMENT: The decedent was at an altitude of 11,155 feet when he fell. Not only did the party not have an experienced guide, but they also were not tethered together, which is standard practice.

The section where the man fell is a dangerous section. Falling rocks are a major concern. Members of the party believe the man lost his balance and footing and fell. Witnesses believe that he fell the equivalent of 305 meters.

The weather was fine for climbing. yet Mont Blanc is not an easy ascent or descent, which is why a climber that knows the mountain is so essential.

An estimated 20,000 people attempt to scale Mont Blanc every year. 

It is estimated that there are on average 100 deaths each year on Mont Blanc.
Earlier this month an 80-year-old Brazilian climber died in a fall in the same area. 

And in August, Felicity Ward, a teaching assistant from Devon, fell more than 300 fell to her death while walking near the top of the Col de la Vaurze in the Isère region of south-eastern France.

A 76-year-old British woman also died last month after losing her footing and falling in the Swiss Alps.

Meanwhile, two Italian women died on August 13, after being hit by falling ice that triggered an avalanche while they were climbing the Massif de Mont Blanc. The pair were swept into a crevasse and buried in snow.

Mont Blanc has the highest fatality rate of any mountain in Europe. Yet, despite being the tallest mountain in Western Europe, it is not considered difficult to technically climb for an experienced climber.