Avalanche Near Mont Blanc Claims 8
Ice fell about 3 a.m. from a giant serac above the path that zigzags up the northwest side of 13,937-foot Mont Blanc du Tacul. The 150-foot-wide avalanche path struck several parties that likely had just left the Cosmiques hut at the start of a long climb to the summit of 15,780-foot Mont Blanc, the highest peak in western Europe.
Five Austrian and three Swiss climbers were swept into a chaotic glacial basin and could not be found by helicopter and ground searches; the search operation was suspended late on Sunday because of the fear of more avalanches.
Survivors told the Guardian newspaper of the strangely silent slide that hit them: "The guide shouted, 'Run fast! Run fast!'" said Nicolas Duquesne, who sustained a broken ankle. "It didn't make any noise. It really was impressive.” Italian guide Marco Delfini told the Guardian his party was carried more than 600 feet by the avalanche.
The accident, described as one of the worst in decades in the Alps, occurred on a night of cold, clear weather.
Date of Accident: August 24, 2008