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Missing Climber found Alive on Aiguille Verte

Gaëlle Cavalié missing since Tuesday 14 May was found alive on the morning of Saturday 18th May.

For four days and four nights Cavalié stayed safe just below 4000m in a snow hole she dug for protection.

Without any news from Gaëlle, her father and one of his friends, contacted the Chamonix PGHM. But bad weather prevented a helicopter rescue.

On Saturday morning, 18th May, at 6.30 am the PGHM dispatched a helicopter to conduct a search to find the missing woman.

From her hospital bed in Sallanches, Gaëlle told reporters, "I heard it nearby, but I was slumped in the snow hole. When, I was sure the helicopter was close, I shovelled a hole in the snow covering me so I could get my head out. This was enough for them to see me".

Immediately, the PGHM airlifted Gaëlle to Sallanches Hospital, where she was diagnosed with fatigue and mild hypothermia. Surrounded by her family, everyone was excited and very relieved.

Despite the fatigue, she agreed to share her experience:
"Before leaving Tuesday, I spent two nights with almost no sleep at the Grands Montets, waiting for the right weather conditions. I found a two mountaineers roped together, with whom I began the ascent of the Couturier Couloir. Because of bad weather, they decided to turn back.  At that time, I felt good and the 'topo' said that after a difficult passage, I would find the snow easier to move forward. But the difficult passage took everything out of me, and I no longer had the strength continue or even to turn back. I placed a pin in the hard snow and hung on it to relieve my legs. Then I dug a hole in the snow. I knew it was the right thing to do when something goes wrong".

At almost 4000 meters, Gaëlle waited for three long days and four long nights in her snow hole with sub-zero temperatures and no food, but protected from the bad weather. "I knew that help would not come until Saturday, because I had seen the weather forecast. I thought about my family all the time, that's what gave me the strength to survive. I believe in God, and I was convinced he was going to give me a lesson, but I was wondering how long it would last. Now, I know it was a mistake to attempt this climb. I prayed a lot. I have a guardian angel watching over me, now I'm sure".

Reality is, her guardian angel is a Turbomeca Arriel powered Eurocopter EC145 operated by the PGHM Chamonix.

Source: Le Dauphiné Libéré with additional reporting from the Chamonx Networks News Team

People venturing unguided into the mountains, should have the number of the PGHM +33 (0)4 50 53 16 89 in their mobile phone; to be used only in case of emergency. This is not an advice line.

Chute mortelle, skieur Britannique dévisse sur l'arete de l'Aiguille du Midi
Missing Climber found Alive on Aiguille Verte