Captain Patrice Ribes, from the local mountain police in Chamonix, said: “We
think the man fell while he was on the phone to the police. We think he
called immediately after his son had fallen and that he fell very shortly
after. It all happened very quickly.”
He added: “It is a dangerous, deep, snowy hike. It is not a route that is
chosen much at this time of the year, especially without snowshoes. In the
winter you cannot see the path, it is hidden by snow.
“The accident is being investigated and it will determine the circumstances of
the accident, as well as the level of preparation of the hiker and his
The pair had arrived in the Chamonix valley on Saturday morning and had
planned to spend the weekend hiking through an area called The Junction in
Bossons at the foot of Mont Blanc.
At around 2.55pm on Saturday the emergency services in Annecy received a
frantic call from the father reporting that his son had fallen and he could
not see him.
Spokesman Francis Bianchi said: “The man spoke in English and said he was in
Les Bossons in the commune of Les Houches and that his son had fallen. He
did not say anything else.
“The call was immediately transferred to the mountain police in Chamonix. They
repeatedly asked him questions. They could hear him and he was panicked.
“He did not reply to their questions. And then it cut off. It was dramatic.
They kept trying to call him back but it went straight through to the answer
A search helicopter was scrambled within five minutes of the phone call being
received but without a location the area was too vast.
Police contacted all of France’s mobile phone operators in an attempt to fix
the location but again the area was too wide.
However they were able to get a list of all the numbers the man had dialled
that day and so were able to contact his wife back in Buckinghamshire.
She confirmed they were planning to hike up to La Jonction and that they were
expected back at the hotel at 10pm on Saturday night.
Using a photograph he had sent to her they were also able to narrow down the
search area and at 7.20am yesterday morning the two bodies were spotted
around 150ft apart lying on a glacier.
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 famous La Jonction is a hike where mountaineers are afforded magnificent
views of the Bossons and Taconnaz glaciers.
La Jonction is the last rocky spur before the so-called kingdom of ice and
hikers can start from the hamlet of Le Mont or the valley floor.
But the area around the Mont Blanc massif is not without its perils and
estimates put the fatality rate in the region at around 100 people a year.
Last July, three Britons were among nine mountaineers swept to their deaths by
an avalanche on Mont Maudit, in the Mont Blanc range.
British man dies after seeing son fall to death in Alps tragedy – Telegraph.co.uk
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