It has been a busy and tragic week in Chamonix, France this week. In unrelated incidents, the mountain has seen 1 man go missing, 3 people in need of rescue, and the deaths of 3 other people this week.
The rescue occurred on the 5th when a Hungarian woman and her 9-year-old twin daughters had to be rescued by helicopter. The Group also included the Women’s husband and a friend who completed the summit after the rescue. A mountain guide alerted authorities when he spotted the girls “Paralysed, crying, and no longer able to move under the weight of their packs”. The group was attempting to summit Mont Blanc from the Refuge du Gouter.
The Second incident occurred the very next day, the 6th, when two German men went missing on the mountain. They were attempting to climb Mont Blanc du Tacul, and reports claim that they had taken the very difficult “Devil’s Ridge” route. The Mountaineers faced difficulty when the weather worsened. Unfortunately, the two men froze to death and their bodies were recovered by rescuers on the 10th.
The week kept getting worse, as just yesterday a Czech mountaineer fell to his death. The man was had reached the summit with two other climbers. They were descending the Gouter Couloir (Grand Couloir), one of the more popular routes to the summit of Mont Blanc when he fell several hundred meters to his death. It has been reported that the man was not using a rope during the descent.
Lastly, the search for a missing Japanese climber was called off today, the 14th. No one had seen Hironobu Shimosawa since Monday when he set out to summit 15,780′ Mont Blanc. The PGHM rescue service says that Shimosawa asked a friend for help over Facebook on Wednesday. Search efforts by Helicopter and Mountaineer have been challenged by bad weather the past few days. The search will return if weather permits in the next few days.
These events help serve as a reminder of the constant danger of being in the mountains. Through these tragedies, we must learn to prepare smarter and better.