A large avalanche descends the North Face of the Mont Blanc du Tacul, the first peak on the Three Summits route on the ascent of Mont Blanc.
Friday, June 14, 2013, 08:15hrs, the Chamonix PGHM is alerted and the major rescue and recovery protocol is activated. There are no specific reports of anyone caught in the avalanche, but to assume there are no victims from such a large avalanche, on a face with frequent activity, would be considered negligent by the PGHM.
The trigger for this avalanche is unknown, but falling seracs are considered to be the most likely cause.
Fifteen rescuers, two dog handlers and a doctor are mobilized. Initially, a wide area search and safety asseement is performed. Arva technology from the helicopter has a vital role in rapid detection. No positive results are returned and the area is deemed not to be at risk of a secondary avalanche from higher up the slope, so a ground search commences.
A mid-afternoon press release reports no casualties, but the presence of surface material indicates climbers may be trapped in the debris. There is a possibility that the debris is recent and not directly linked to any victim of this avalanche, but no assumptions are made. The search continues with hand-held Arvas, probes and canine assistance.
The avalanche is to the left of the Triangle (exposed rock) Face of the Tacul, where there route to the summit of Mont Blanc cuts back, zigzagging up the snowfield. This route may carry over one hundred climbers each day in the high season. Last night 20 climbers stayed at the Cosmiques Hut.
Mont Blanc du Tacul is considered one of the "easy and accessible" mountains over 4000m in the Alps. Many climbers choose 'The Tacul' as their first 4000m ascent, because the peak is graded PD (Peu Difficile/Little Difficult) "Some technical climbing and complicated glaciers".
Another factor that makes the Mont Blanc du Tacul so popular, is the proximity to the Aiguille du Midi. In 30 minutes, the magnificent lift system with the same name, carries a climber from the center of Chamonix (1032m) to an altitude of 3842m. From there, the summit of Mont Blanc du Tacul, at 4248 metres, may be climbed in just 2 hours! Read more about Mt Blanc du Tacul
Updates to follow....
Source: Chamonix Networks News Team