A Dutch and a French climber were killed on Monday, July 31, 2023, while ascending Aiguilles du Tour at Mont Blanc at the Swiss/French border. A third female climber from the Netherlands survived with injuries.
The Aiguille du Tour reaches an elevation of 3,540 m (11,614 ft) and the hiking tour requires ropes, while ice axes and crampons are only recommended.
Around 9 a.m. a rock mass struck a rope team from the Netherlands consisting of a 22-year-old and a 36-year old climber. The 22-year-old woman was injured but survived while her 36-year-old male climbing partner was fatally wounded. The rock mass continued on down and struck a second climbing party a few yards below, where a second climber lost his life. The 26-year-old victim in the other climbing group was from France
The cantonal police together with Air Glaciers aided in the rescue and recovery of the injured and deceased climbers.
Mont Blanc is known as being the deadliest mountain in Europe. Around 100 climbers die each year while hiking the mountain range.
Swiss scientists are warning that the erosion of the permafrost above 3,000 m (9,842 ft) glaciers has been contributing to an increase in rock slides. German scientists have described the permafrost acting like glue in rocks. With the recent high temperatures the ice melting at altitude is causing destabilization on hiking routes and the local police is reminding people to exercise caution and to wear helmets when hiking in rocky terrain.