A 65 year old Austrian man slipped to his death on Saturday during a descent of Mont Blanc, reports thelocal.at
The party of three were just above the notorious Couloir du Goûter (Grand Couloir) when the man slipped and fell 200m (650ft). He died instantly. The reason for the fall is still unclear, but local authorities were quick to rule out rock fall which is the usual cause of accidents at this time of year.
Mont Blanc, in the Alps, is Western Europes highest peak at 4808m (15,774ft) high. 35,000 climbers attempt to climb it every year. The infamous Couloir du Goûter is recognised as dangerous and is often referred to as ‘Death Couloir’. Crossing the 550m ridge is particularly dangerous in the high summer months due to frequent rockfalls, and whether an expert mountaineer or not, it must be contended with on the way to the summit.
According to statistics from petzl.com, on average there are 3 fatalities and 8 injuries on Mont Blanc every year. A number of safety improvements have been made over the years. Safety equipment has been installed, including a cable to help those crossing the couloir in an attempt to reduce the number of casualties.
The two other members of the climbing party were helped down by rescuers.
In a separate incident, two mountaineers had to spend the night at the summit of Mont Blanc the same day. Bad weather prevented their descent and they were airlifted to safety around 11am on Sunday 23rd July. One of the party was suffering from frost bite.