death of a climber stuck by the storm, a trying night for the rescuers of the PGHM of Chamonix

death of a climber stuck by the storm, a trying night for the rescuers of the PGHM of Chamonix
death of a climber stuck by the storm, a trying night for the rescuers of the PGHM of Chamonix

A mountaineer who climbed the north face of Mont-Blanc alone died this Friday, July 30 in the early morning, despite multiple rescue attempts by rescuers at an altitude of 4,000 meters, during the night and in the midst of a storm.

After the death of a 65-year-old mountaineer victim of a fall of 400 meters near the Bossons glacier, Thursday afternoon, another man from Île-de-France died on Friday in the Mont Blanc massif on Friday. He succumbed to cold and fatigue despite multiple rescue attempts. Story of that trying night for the rescuers of the Chamonix High Mountain Gendarmerie Platoon (PGHM).

The alert was given Thursday evening, says the commander of the PGHM of Chamonix, André-Vianney Espinasse. It is 6:50 p.m., a forty-something is alone near the Mont-Blanc summit. He lost track, stuck at an altitude of 4,800 meters by “the storm, the wind, the cold”, these same impossible weather conditions which already immobilize a team of rescuers with a helicopter.

A second aircraft then tries to climb other gendarmes, but the wind forces the pilot to drop them low, at 3,200 meters, forcing them to embark on a perilous night ascent.

At 2 a.m., after reaching the Gouter refuge and waiting for a lull, they set out to meet the climber, in the dark, on the glaciers, facing a wind of 80 km / h and then that they haven’t heard from the man since 1:30.

They meet him around 4:10 am at the Grand Plateau, an area “deadly” where he was able to descend, to 4,000 meters above sea level, under seracs that threaten to drop their tons of ice. There, the three rescuers make a “hotspot” around him to delay the severe hypothermia of the distressed mountaineer. Corn “at 5:30 am, still in a terrible wind, the climber goes into cardiac arrest”, continues Commander Espinasse.

At the same time, a new attempt “extraction of the impossible”, aiming to simply carry the victim by cable with his harness, again fails in a helicopter, because it is too windy. “At the end of this abortive attempt, at 6:15 am, I made the decision to tell my rescuers to leave this extremely dangerous area, leaving the mountaineer there “, continues the officer. It will finally be necessary to wait for the intervention of an Italian rescue helicopter, coming from the other side of the massif, to “snatch the body from the mountain” and entrust it to the funeral directors.

“That night, we struggled, but there was no miracle”, concludes André-Vianney Espinasse, who wishes to recall that “solo in the high mountains is really to be avoided, for all the objective dangers that it contains.”

His men had already intervened Thursday afternoon for the fatal fall, while hiking, of a 65-year-old man near the Bossons glacier.

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