Fatal Fall at Les Gaillands


On 27 October 2019, around 11.30 am, a 44-years old Brazilian man was practising at the Gaillands when he fell around 20 meters (65,61 ft).

The victim was in cardio-respiratory arrest when the authorities arrived. They tried to resuscitate him for 30 minutes, but, unfortunately, to no avail.

The investigation of the exact cause of the accident is still in progress.

Les Gaillands is known as an accessible place, well-suited for beginners and families
Les Gaillands is known as an accessible place, well-suited for beginners and families
Les Gaillands is known as an accessible place, well-suited for beginners and families

Les Gaillands - a beginners area

The Gaillands climbing rock is one of the most accessible climbing spots in the Chamonix valley. 

Located at the south end of the town, only 2 km (1.24 mi) from the Chamonix city centre, Les Gaillands is a popular place for families, groups of friends, for schools and guides offering training, or for people who want to hang out and do a bit of climbing.

Les Gaillands is advertised as being well-protected and well-kept, the local authorities and guides having scrubbed off the cliff and removed any loose rocks, and peppered it with about a thousand bolts.

Moreover, Les Gaillands is known as a beginners area, with most climbing routes not being difficult. The easiest routes start at about French 3 (5.0 USA). Even some of the longer multi-pitch routes are quite moderate (Cosley & Houston Alpine Guides) and climbing accidents at the Gaillands are relatively rare because the site is full of anchor that ensure a safe ride points.

So - what went wrong?

The fatal fall of the 44-year old Brazilian man left both witnesses and authorities feeling puzzled.

When the firefighters of Chamonix, a team of the Smur de Sallanches and the high mountain gendarmerie platoon (PGHM) of Chamonix arrived, the man was in cardio-respiratory arrest. The resuscitation attempts lasted 30 minutes and were futile.

According to Le Dauphine, it seems that the rope used was too short and that it was entirely in the chute.

If the rope was too short, it means that this was a "hyper classic climbing accident", says mountain guide, Jean-Philippe Couttet. "The leader goes up to the relay, he passes the rope to anchor in the relay and during this time the insurer does not realize that the marking that indicates half of the rope has already passed. When it goes down again, the rope too short passes entirely in the descender and the accident is sure to happen."

An investigation is underway, conducted by the PGHM. The witnesses of the accident should be heard in the coming days.

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