Deaths in the Alps

In one month, a series of tragedies in the Swiss and French Alps took the lives of about thirty people. Not since 1997 have so many climbers lost their lives in such a short space of time. 2007 is looking like it will be one of the worst years on record for alpine deaths. Climate change is being blamed as one factor; making conditions in the mountains more unpredictable. Many climbers were found to have been without proper equipment and training. One Frenchman and three women from Great Britain, Chile and New Zealand died on Mont Blanc (4808m) at the end of July. They were surprised by incoming bad weather while climbing the mountain from Chamonix. The party became lost in heavy snowstorms on the normal French route. 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 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. In the week following, two climbers died on the Matterhorn. Both fell to their death while descending via the Hornli Ridge.At least three fell to their death in the Swiss mountains of Wallis after stumbling on hiking paths, and two Polish climbers fell several hundred meters from the Allalinhorn mountain near the Swiss village of Saas Fee. In two other accidents, three young Swiss died by falling from the Obergabelhorn, and a tragic accident on the Aletschgletjser took the life of Claude Rey, President of the International Guides Association (IFMGA). He was, early in the morning on July 28, walking from the Konkordiahut towards the glacier, when he fell through a snow bridge on the moraines. Air Zermatt was able to recover his body, but he died later that day in the Hospital of Sitten.Another accident occurred on Mont Blanc, taking the lives of a French man and his son. They fell through the cornice of the Arete de Bionassay. Some days later a climber was descending through the Grand Couloir of Mont Blanc when he lost his balance and fell about 100 meters. Also dead.On August 2 another cold front hit the Alps. Two German climbers at the Weismies, above Saas Grund, got in trouble when lightning struck and seriously injured one of them.  Mont Blanc took again three lives last Saturday. The German woman and men were missing for two days when they were found dead near the Grands Mulets. They had tried to take a more difficult variant of the Standard Route. Three climbers were hit by falling ice at the Dome des Ecrins, also in the French Alps. source: Alpinist