A week after the accidental death of an Italian, Mont-Blanc claims another victim.
Despite large-scale rescue attempts, overnight and in the midst of a storm, rescuers were unable to save a lonely mountaineer who died early Friday morning on the north face of Mont-Blanc.
Thursday evening, the soldiers of the Chamonix high mountain gendarmerie platoon (PGHM) are called upon from all sides when they receive a new call for help, says Commander 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 m by “the storm, the wind, the cold”.
These same impossible weather conditions which already immobilize a team of rescuers with a helicopter.
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A second aircraft then attempted to climb other gendarmes, but the wind forced the pilot to drop them low, at 3,200 m, 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.
Rescuers make a hot spot around him
They found him around 4:10 am at the Grand Plateau, a “deadly” zone where he had been able to descend, to an altitude of 4000 m, under seracs which threatened to drop their tons of ice.
There, the three rescuers make a "hot spot" around him to delay the severe hypothermia of the mountaineer in distress.
But "at 5:30 am, still in a terrible wind, the climber goes into cardiac arrest," continues Commander Espinasse, confirming a story published by the regional daily Le Dauphiné Libéré.
At the same time, a new attempt to “extract the impossible”, aiming to simply carry the victim by cable with his harness, again failed in the helicopter because of the wind.
“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.
The high mountain solo to be banned
It will finally be necessary to wait for the intervention of an Italian rescue helicopter, coming from the other side of the massif, to "tear the body from the mountain" and entrust it to the funeral directors.
"Last night, we struggled, but there was no miracle", concludes André-Vianney Espinasse, who wishes to remind that "solo in the high mountains, it is really to be avoided, for all dangers objectives that it contains.
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His men had already intervened Thursday afternoon for the fatal fall, while hiking, of a 65-year-old man near the Bossons glacier.