Three policemen, from the Ardeche mountain rescue team, came to train in Chamonix Tuesday 2 July 2013.
The three sub-gendarmerie officers, aged 29, 33 and 44 years, were making a traverse in the Mont-Blanc Massif, from the Aiguile du Plan (3673m) to the Aiguille du Midi (3842m). They fell over 3000 feet from the cliff face.
The route is not a 'bolted route' though some permanent protection is in place at abseil points.
The men were climbing above Chamonix in preparation for a course and test in August 2013 with the National Training Centre for Skiing and Mountaineering Gendarmerie (CNISAG) based in Chamonix since 1988.
The PGHM Chamonix had been advised for their route but with no news by 8pm a helicopter was despatched. At 21:30, the body of a climber was discovered at the foot of the north face of the Aiguille du Midi.
2013 has been a very difficult year for the PGHM and the other CNISAG. Two men perished in April on a training course and the three men who died last night were preparing to join the PGHM. The training takes three years with three one week courses each year until the final assessment.
The ridge Aiguille du Midi - Aiguille du Plan is one of the most popular high traverses in the Mont Blanc Massif. This very attractive itinerary, commonly known as the Midi-Plan traverse, is a mixed route with frequent snow cover, ice and rock. Difficulty is AD+, with 600m of D+.
All along the route the views are magnificent, with a panorama of the peaks of the Mont Blanc and 8600 feet below, the town of Chamonix is always visible on the valley floor.
By cons must be careful because some drainage crossings Chamonix exposed and asked to be introduced to walking crampons.