The bodies of two climbers missing since Saturday, 5th November 2022, were found by rescuers yesterday. The pair were attempting to climb the Petite Face Nord in the Grand Casse sector of Savoie in the French Alps when they were caught in an avalanche. Other climbers raised the alarm when they didn’t return to their refuge that evening.
The two mountaineers, ages 21 and 26, had spent Friday night at the Col de la Vanoise refuge before climbing the north face of the highest Savoyard summit. They were victims of a wind slab that caused them to fall about 50 feet into a rimaye (a crevasse at the head of a glacier). According to initial investigations, they had skied to the Grande Casse pass before putting on crampons.
Tracks in the snow led to the discovery of the fallen climbers. Air and ground searches, involving a dozen rescuers and an avalanche dog, searched for two days. Rescuers found their bodies buried under six feet of snow.
Following eight inches of fresh snow the previous day, the avalanche bulletin gave the risk at 2/5 (moderate) above 8,200 feet (2,500m). The main danger was poorly bridged crevasses, although the bulletin did warn of small surface slides on sunny slopes and rare soft slabs at altitude.
The tragedy comes on the same weekend a 29-year-old trainee high mountain guide was killed in an avalanche above the town of Ceillac in the Hautes-Alpes, the southern French Alps.