Strong winds, severe snowstorm are blamed for Brit’s tragic fall on Aiguille du Midi in French Alps; gusts had reached 60 mph
May 20, 2013 by Pete Thomas
Strong winds and a severe snowstorm are being blamed for the death Saturday of a British snowboarder, who plummeted more than 3,000 feet from a ridge on the north face of Aiguille du Midi in the French Alps.
Reports identify the snowboarder as John Lamb, 34, from Glasgow.
Lamb and a companion, a British skier, had planned to descend the famous Vallée Blanche run, which spans from near the 12,460-foot needle-like Aiguille du Midi peak to the Chamonix valley.
They had ridden a tram to a ledge near the summit, but while trying to hike downward along a daunting ridge leading to the top of the run, the weather worsened and wind speeds reached 60 mph.
They were forced to abandon their gear and attempt to climb back up to the tram station during an ordeal that lasted two hours, before Lamb either slipped or was blown from the ledge.
His body was recovered Sunday morning.
A Chamonix police officer was quoted in the London Evening Standard as saying: “He would have been totally exhausted, and the visibility was very poor. He fell about 1,100 meters. We are investigating the accident.”
First Tracks reports that the pair had contacted a rescue team via phone, but the team could not attempt a physical rescue because of the hazardous conditions.
Some have questioned why the pair had planned the trip with poor weather conditions in the forecast.
A local guide told the Evening Standard: “I understand they tried to make a snow hole. A snow hole built correctly would have given them they shelter they needed. For some reason they didn’t stay in the snow hole. You have to ask whether they made it correctly and, therefore, whether they had the correct equipment with them.
“They would have been exhausted by the time they decided to try and walk back across the ridge. Visibility would have been terrible, and the winds were 100 km per hour. It sounds like a catalog of disasters from the start.”