Gouter Route Fatality Sept 2013


Saturday 21 September 2013: Tragedy on the Gouter Route to Mont-Blanc: a 30-year-old British climber lost his balance and fell to his dead. 

The PGHM Chamonix was alerted at 9.30am about a tragedy on the route to Mont-Blanc. The deceased, an English climber, had summitted Mont-Blanc on Friday (20 Sept 2013) afternoon and was descending to the town of Chamonix.

The main route to the summit, the Gouter Couloir.
The main route to the summit, the Gouter Couloir.
Thousands of tourists climb Mont-Blanc every year on the Gouter Couloir.
Tragedy on the Gouter Route to Mont-Blanc

The man was on vacation with a group of nine British alpinists. They put into action their plan to climb to the summit of Mont-Blanc. The group did not hire the services of High Mountain Guides. 
After a long and exhausting ascent, Friday morning they reached the summit of Mont-Blanc. On the descent, the group decided to split: five of the climbers returned immediately to Chamonix; four remained at the Gouter Refuge, where they spent the night. Saturday morning, they continued their descent on the classic route.

The victim was crossing the infamous Grand Couloir, AKA: Death Gully at an altitude of 3400m when he lost his balance, slipped and fell and estimated 300m. Another climber in the group alerted the PGHM Chamonix. They despatch a helicopter to locate and receive the body of the dead climber.

Crossing the Grand Couloir is exceptionally dangerous. The danger is posed by falling rock and ice. In this case, the victim was not struck by a projectile, but the heightened risk of being struck can place a climber at greater risk of a slip or trip and subsequent fall. Many climbers look up the Couloir, in the hope that they can see and avoid a falling projectile; with their eyes averted from the narrow and treacherous path, the risk of a slip is elevated.

In London, a spokesperson for the Foreign Office said: 'We are aware of the death of a British national in France on 21 September. We are providing consular assistance at this difficult time.'

As is standard procedure for the Chamonix PGHM, the name of the victim has not been released to the press.

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