Add a mountain biker to the growing list of Chamonix’s increasingly unusual summer fatalities. I mean it’s not like we don’t get our fair share of death and destruction around here but when was the last time you heard of a biker being taken out? Especially on the relatively mellow Petit Balcon Nord.
2 August – Korean Death Rappel From Walker Spur
On Friday, 31 July, a team of three South Korean climbers left for an ascent of the Walker Spur (ED-/1200m/5+ A1) of the Grandes Jorasses (4208m). According to rescuers, the team was advancing very slowly and had only climbed 400m by the time thunderstorms hit them early Sunday morning. The Walker Spur is typically climbed in one or two days.
In heavy weather, the team decided to bail and during the rappels one of the climbers, aged 47, fell 400m.
Due to dangerous conditions, rescuers were unable to retrieve the body, which remained on the Mont Mallet glacier near the bergshrund. The rescue of the other two climbers, disrupted by the weather, was completed in 15 hours.
31 July – Mountain Biker Over the Bars of Life
60-year-old Richard Castle, a university lecturer on holiday with the Brighton Explorers Club, rented a bicycle on Friday, 31 July, and pedaled off at approximately 10:30. Later in the day hikers on the Petit Balcon noticed the bike a few meters off the trail and alerted authorities who found the body around 14:30.
A spokesman for the gendarmerie told reporters that the man apparently fell around 100 meters, hitting several trees on the way down, but could not comment on the exact nature of his death until the results of a post mortem had been reviewed.
30 July – Unroped Germans, Tired Austrians, Facial Scars and Bad Shoes
A day marked by the funeral of an intern from the Gap PGHM who died tragically as a result of a training climb on the Aiguille du Peigne on 27 July. There were a number of rescues in the area including:
– An unroped Germanic or Austrian climber fell several hundred meters to his death down the south face of Point Whymper (4184m) as he traversed the Rochefort Arête to the Grandes Jorasses. Italian rescuers found a rope in the victim’s backpack.
– An exhausted climber with an Austrian guide on the Pte Marguerite (4068m) on the Rochefort Arête of the Grandes Jorasses.
– Two exhausted mountaineers from the Mur de la Côte at the base of Mont Blanc.
– A climber sustaining facial injuries when he fell into a crevasse near Pointe Lachenal while crossing the Vallée Blanche. The victim’s partners pulled him from the crevasse and passed him on to PGHM who transported him to the hospital in Sallanches for observation.
– A hiker who suffered from bad shoes. [Fashion police switchboards were apparently overloaded.]
– An alpinist with a sprain from the Refuge du Goûter.
26 July – Walker Falls From Croix de Fer
At LeTour, a 58-year-old French walker fell 200 meters while traversing the grass and rock arête from Col de Balme (2191m) to the Croix de Fer on the Tête de Balme (2321m). La Police cantonal Valaisanne were unsure why he fell.