British ski-tourer dies in Avalanche on the Glacier du Passon

 

On Saturday 14 January 2023, a 45-year-old British woman died after being caught in an avalanche while she was skiing with two other people in the Mont-Blanc massif, said the Gendarmerie de Haute Montagne (PGHM) of Chamonix on Sunday.

image: 
PGHM Chamonix training photo. This is not a photo of the recovery on 14-Jan-2023
Col du Passon, Passon Glacier, Chamonix

 

The incident occurred at approximately 5:30pm on Saturday 14 January involving a British couple, led by a qualified High Mountain Guide.
They were skiing on the Passon Glacier, when an avalanche caught one of the three ski-tourers as it descended towards the Argentiere Glacier.

The victim was recovered from the avalanche debris above the junction of the Argentière glacier and the foot of Passon glacier. According to the PGHM recovery team, the avalanche debris was heavy, compacted snow that had trapped the ski-tourer. 

As is routine with all fatal accidents in French side of the Massif du Mont-Blanc, the Chamonix PGHM has started in investigation into this incident.

 

 

The Col du Passon route, most likely taken that day, is popular with ski-tourers and frequently used by High-Mountain Guides as an achievable day excursion for people starting on the ski-touring experience.

The route starts from the top of Les Grands Montets at 3300m and descends with an exhilarating ski down to the Argentière Glacier (2500m). The tourers cross the flat glacier surface to the foot of the Passon Glacier.

At this point, the ski-tourers will be hoping for favourable snow conditions, where they can fit 'skins' to the underside of their skis,  so they can ski uphill ! A direct route route up the glacier to the Col de Passon is too steep for 'skinning', so a zig-zag route is taken up the glacier.

On reaching the Col du Passon, the tourers turn around, ski down the Passon Glacier, cross the Argentière Glacier, in a diagonal westerly direction. This allows for a shorter climb up from the Argentiere Glacier to join the lower section of the Pointe du Vue piste.

The Point du Vue piste is categorised as black, and runs from the top of the Grands Montets to Lognan. The lower section, where tourers from the Col du Passon excursion meet the piste, is a track.

 

 

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