Spring avalanche kills Chamonix resident in the Aiguilles Rouges


On Saturday morning, the 18th of May 2019, a highly experienced skier was practising alone in the Aiguilles Rouges mountains close to Chamonix when an avalanche broke out.

It was the victim's girlfriend who alerted the PGHM of Chamonix when he failed to return home in the afternoon.

Unfortunately, the victim was no longer alive.

The 33 years old man had been a resident of Chamonix and a passionate about mountains.

The Aiguilles Rouges massif, by Romaric Juvanon, licensed under CC-BY 4.0., found on https://commons.wikimedia.org

On Saturday afternoon, the 18th of May 2019, at around 7 pm, the PGHM of Chamonix were called by the victim's girlfriend and were told that he failed to return home.

The PGHM quickly embarked on a terrestrial reconnaissance until the Buet car parking, in the town of Vallorcine, to see if the skier's car was there.

Immediately after, the rescuers boarded the helicopter of civil security and searched above the Aiguille de Mesure, where the victim told his girlfriend he was headed when he left in the morning.

Eventually, the PGHM of Chamonix found a ski and an ice axe planted on the top of the corridor.

500 meters lower, at the foot of the Aiguille de Praz-Torrent (2573 m or 8440 ft altitude), the PGHM found the body of the skier.

The victim was partially covered in "avalanche balls", a phenomenon characteristic of spring snow.

The intervention of the PGHM ended at around 10.30 pm. 

The preliminary investigation shows that the 33 years old man was going up the North-West corridor of the Aiguille breach, which he most likely intended to descend when an avalanche broke out.

It is not possible yet to determine the exact time or cause of the avalanche, at this early stage and because of lack of witnesses.

The skier was said to have been very experienced. He had an impressive number of steep descents to his name.

Originally from la Mouille in the Jura, he had become a resident of Chamonix three years ago. 

Over the last few days, light amounts of heavy snow have settled at high altitudes which, when channelled through corridors, can lead to dangerous avalanches.

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