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Rock Climbing : News : Accidents and Injuries : Eight feared dead in Mont Blanc avalanche

Eight feared dead in Mont Blanc avalanche

Submitted by sunglint on 2008-08-26

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by wayne barker

From the Guardian, full article at

Hope was fading fast last night for eight mountaineers missing near Mont Blanc after a powerful avalanche caused one of the worst accidents to hit the French Alps in decades.

More than 15 hours after a large chunk of ice broke off from the mountain and prompted the pre-dawn avalanche, five Austrian and three Swiss climbers had still not been recovered from the slopes of Mont Blanc du Tacul.

Regis Lavergne, a rescue worker, said there was "no more hope" of finding them alive. "We strongly suspect that the missing are on the lower reaches of the glacier, underneath the lumps of serac [pillar of ice], which means we can't really do anything," he told French television.

Eight other climbers - five French and three Italian, - were injured when the avalanche swept down the mountain at 3am yesterday, hitting a path often frequented by groups heading for the summit of Mont Blanc, western Europe's highest peak. They were recovering in hospital.


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I climbed the Tacul twice in two successing days, just two days before the avalanche, through the same route. The Tacul is just nothing else but a ticking timebomb, ready to go off any moment. With it's steep slopes and dozens of enormous seracs, no one can predict an avalanche on Mont Blanc du Tacul. The PGHM should really do more controlled avalanches on it, to prevent things like this from happening. After plowing through newspapers articles about the Tacul from the last few years, I noticed avalanches had actually happened several times in the last couple of years, eacht time causing fatalities and injuries.

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