A British man and his 12-year-old son have been killed on a hiking trip in the French Alps.

The 48-year-old man called for help at 2pm on Saturday after his son fell down a crevasse near Mont Blanc. The man was suddenly cut off. It is thought that he fell to his own death as he tried to reach his child.

The pair had been on a “dangerous, deep, snowy” mountain trail between Bossons and Les Houches, according to Captain Patrice Ribes, deputy commander of the mountain rescue gendarmerie at Chamonix.

“The man said he could no longer see his son and couldn’t get to him. We think he tried to find his son after he called us and asked for rescue. We believe he fell as he tried to find his son. Their bodies were found together this morning at 7.40am,” Ribes said.

He added that the communication was suddenly cut and it had not been possible to call back for more details of where the accident had happened.

A rescue mission was launched, but gendarmes admitted the search area was “immense” and said that initially they were unsure whether the pair were skiing, walking with raquettes or on foot.

Mobile telephone operators were alerted and asked to consult their records to establish the precise location of the British man’s mobile phone and the caller’s identity.

The British police were also contacted via Interpol, to confirm the identities of the father and son and inform family members, who gave them details of where they planned to walk.

The search was called off at nightfall, but rescuers continued working through the night to establish where the walkers might be.

“Thanks to a photograph the father sent on Saturday we were able to identify the place where we should be searching around 2am on Sunday,” added Ribes.

As soon as there was light, the search was resumed. The bodies were found 40 minutes later at 7.40am at an altitude of 1,600 metres.

The boy had fallen around 300 metres and his father, who appeared to have tried to rescue him, had died after falling 200 metres.

A Foreign Office spokesman said: “We can confirm the death of two British nationals in the French Alps and are providing consular assistance to the family at this difficult time.”

The father and son, reported to be from Buckingham, had flown to Geneva on Saturday to spend the weekend in Chamonix. According to locals the walking route they chose is popular in summer “but not at all in winter, especially not without raquettes”.

“They could have got lost because in winter you can’t see the path because it disappears under the snow as it crosses the corridors and one can very easily fall.

“It’s a slide of snow and ice, with rocky ledges at regular intervals and if you don’t have crampons or ice-picks it’s impossible to stop. ,” added Ribes.

He said it was, however, too early to judge what had happened. “An inquiry will establish the circumstances of the accident, as well as the level of preparation and experience of the walkers,” he said. “Every death in the mountain is different.”

British father and son die in French Alps – The Guardian
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