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Flachlandtiroler - Sep 21, 2012 5:22 am - Hasn't voted

Good article on alps, but not much concern regarding Montblanc...

I like this essay, because it brings closer the game "alpi"nism to people not knowing the alps. For someone thinking of his first alpine season it would really be quite helpful I suppose.

As you utilize the actual Montblanc accident as an opener, I miss clearly one IMHO important statement:

Montblanc 3-summits-traverse contains at least two quite risky stretches (speaking of avalanches, serac fall, ...), which alone contribute VERY significantly to the death toll at Montblanc.

I would guess that there are much more fatalities on the tacul and maudit slopes than in the grand coloir you mentioned.

No analysis is carried out, what the reasons of the accidents are or on what routes they occur.

From the view of an european mountaineer knowing the hustle and bustle in the alps I must agree to as' harshly criticised comment -- the essay does not contain too much information.
As far as Montblanc itself is concerned it remains quite superficial.

I'm sorry to say that, as the article seems to me quite interesting for non-europeans as said above.


ericvola - May 28, 2013 5:51 am - Hasn't voted

Mont Blanc statistics

The most known Mont Blanc 'Russian roulette' type risk is the Grand couloir traverse. See this comprehensive survey (sorry in French) made recently by Ptezl:

For most precise statistics and their analysis, note that both the CAF (French Alpine Club) and CAS (Swiss Alpine Club) do gather statistics every year and have done so for many years. You can contact them to get hold of them, they have always been made public in their magazines.

Whatever I found the article 'Why Is Mont Blanc One of the World's Deadliest Mountains?' very well written and a very good analysis quite amazing coming from a novice climber. I have noted particularly the 'complacency' element of the professionals. I have seen so many guides and friends die because of it. Last summer again with the Mont Maudit avalanche in which 9 died among whom a most known British Himalayist Roger Payne (and safety instructor!). His friend and mine, Victor Saunders, another British guide and most experienced himalayist saved his life and that of his client after having second thoughts and deciding to leave the Cosmiques hut some time later to get to the Maudit cwb with enough light to assess the snow conditions. Every professional knew that those conditions were extremely dangerous and that had been so for more than a week (light but continuous snow falls for several days, the mountain stayed constantly in the clouds - so snowing - with very high SW wind - 100-140 Km/h accumulating fresh snow on the Maudit slopes above the cwb and with a high probability of forming windslabs on all NE faces) . No guide from the Compagnie des Guides de Chamonix did go that day so dangerous it was, but an independant guide from Les Houches, who also had his life saved and of his two clients as his alarm clock failed and he was awakened late by the guardian, so they arrived on the Maudit 5 minutes behind the main group. They were only caught by the end of the avalanche and on its side, so got out with just wounds. Victor with his client, a doctor, got them out, after having called the PGHM. The Chamonix politicians covered the guides in stating that all were experienced climbers (which they were - guides as well as their clients) and that no one could predict this windslab avalanche mixed with seracs!

As one of my friend, a young guide from the Companie des Guides de Chamonix told me: I had told my client who wanted so much to do the Mont Blanc that for the third time over the week I refused to guide him to the Mont Blanc in the current conditions and took him instead to a much less interesting climb - for him - When he learned about the avalanche he went looking for me to thank me.

I would certainly not blame the professionals and amateurs as well who take risks in the mountains that it be that specific day or any other. It is their choice and their freedom, but to state that it was unpredictable, no!

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