Speed-rider in fatal fall North Face Aiguille du Midi

 
 

On Wednesday 15th March 2017, at about noon, a French speed-rider (31) suffered a fatal fall in the Mont-Blanc Massif. The accident happened on the North Face of the Aiguille du Midi, where the victim fell, out of control, to the foot of the Chéré Couloir.

image: 
Speed riding launch in the shadow at the end of the arête
Speed riding. photo source: @www.lesailesdumontblanc.com
Aiguille du midi (3842 m) - The Chéré Couloir. photo source: @www.camptocamp.org
The Chamonix PGHM Helicopter

According to Le Dauphine, the accident occurred on the Aiguille du Midi and the victim's body was found in the avalanche debris cone, at the foot of the Chéré Couloir.

The man, an experienced speed-rider was with his friend, also an experienced speed-rider. They attempted to begin the speed ride at the the normal paragliding takeoff location, on the North Face of the Aiguille du Midi, directly above the Chéré Couloir.

Speed riding is skiing with a paraglider wing, allowing to directional control, contact with the snow and short phases of free flight. The wing is small than the usual paragliding wing and is built for speed rather than lift.

According to the preliminary investigations led by the Chamonix PGHM, under the authority of the Bonneville prosecutor, it is understood that the speed-rider had problems inflating his wing. When the accident begin to happen his friend standing behind was powerless to help as the victim descended into the Chéré Couloir.

Without sufficient lift, there is a very high risk of fall and the Chéré Couloir is very steep (average 65 degrees) and long, over 1000 meters. In an accident of this nature the victim is usually not unconscious shortly after the beginning of the fall.

The Chamonix PGHM was alerted at about 12:30pm by an employee of the Aiguille du Midi cable car. Other British speed-riders, who were also on the ridge of the time of the accident, alerted the rescue team.

The rescue team of two PGHM gendarmes and a SMUR doctor, traveled quickly by helicopter and found the body of the victim in the avalanche debris cone, at the foot of the Chéré Couloir, at about 2310m. The SMUR doctor declared the man dead at the scene.

According to Le Dauphine, the 31-year-old victim was from Chambéry (Savoie) and worked in the region.

An investigation was opened by the Chamonix PGHM to determine the exact circumstances of the accident.

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