Busy summer for the PGHM of Chamonix


The summer of 2019 has been a busy one for the High Mountain Gendarmerie Platoon (PGHM) of Chamonix.

According to Le Dauphine, the gendarmes were involved in a total of 460 rescue missions in the Mont-Blanc massif.

PGHM Chamonix helicopter, credit @pghm-chamonix.com
View from the summit of Mont Blanc

460 missions this summer means fewer missions than in the summer of 2018 (520). However, Le Dauphine writes that it was actually the summer of 2018 that was an exception, with more rescue missions than during previous years.

Many rescue missions

The weekends were generally very busy for the PGHM of Chamonix. In the weekend of 1-2 June, they were involved in a total of 9 rescue missions, while during the last weekend of June the gendarmes rescued 23 people.

Also in June, the PGHM recovered by helicopter a young man who fell several hundred meters on the Bionnassay glacier. A few days later, two mountaineers unscrewed while descending Mont-Maudit.

On 23 September 2019, due to bad weather and exhaustion, two Germans got stuck on Mont-Blanc and required help from the PGHM in order to descent.

The PGHM conducted many rescue missions via helicopter, photo source @scmp.com

The PGHM conducted many rescue missions via helicopter, photo source @scmp.com

The unfortunate ones

In June, the exceptionally warm weather brought in a record attendance of speed-riders and paragliders. On 26 June 2019, a young speed-rider fell several hundred meters at the Aiguille du Midi and lost his life. As a consequence, the municipalities of Chamonix and Saint-Gervais prohibited the landing within a radius of 600 meters around the summit of Mont-Blanc.

Ludovic Mazimann disappeared mid-July and his body was found a few days later. It seems that he went hiking without proper equipment (hiking sneakers and anti-ice rubber soles).

Other experienced hikers lost their lives in the Mont-Blanc massif this summer, so the mountains can be unforgiving to everyone.

The unusual cases

In June, a case left the Chamonix residents and not only feeling indignant. Two Swiss mountaineers have landed a small plane less than 400 metres (1,312-foot) from the summit of Mont-Blanc. The two Swiss men were spotted and stopped by the PGHM of Chamonix. It appeared that the two men wanted to conquer the Mont-Blanc summit, but without going through all the trouble. The case was unprecedented, so the authorities struggled with finding the exact offence.

Other cases left all the mountain passionates in disbelief. On August 30, 2019, a British tourist attempted to conquer the summit while carrying a rowing machine. As he was close to reaching the summit, weather conditions got too bad to continue, so he had to abandon the exercise machine in an emergency hut situated at 4,362 m (14,311 ft).

A Russian mountaineer attempted to climb Mont-Blanc with his young son (between 7 and 9 years old). He was stopped at nid d'Aigle (2,300 m or 7,545 ft altitude) when they came out of the Mont-Blanc Tramway.

A German tourist made the ascend with his dog, even though he was warned against it.

It was all these odd cases that prompted Saint-Gervais mayor to urge President Macron to take measures against "wackos" climbing Mont-Blanc.

Matthew Disney attempted to climb Mont-Blanc with a rowing machine, photo source @bbc.com

Matthew Disney attempted to climb Mont-Blanc with a rowing machine, photo source @bbc.com

Other News

Mont-Blanc summit and the Bosses ridge
26 Sep 2019
On 23 September 2019, two Germans left from Les Houches to try to conquer Mont-B...
Montenvers Train to Mer de Glace
30 Sep 2019
On 28 September 2019, the Compagnie du Mont-Blanc announced the closure of the M...