British skier falls to his death near Chamonix in French Alps
Monday 20 May 2013
A British skier has died after plunging more than 3,000 feet while tackling a famous off piste glacier in the French Alps.
The man, who has not been named, was out with another skier when they were caught in a storm as they descended the challenging Vallee Blanche near Chamonix.
He plunged down the north face of the Aiguille du Midi mountain after the pair decided to return to the cable car because of dangerously high winds and blizzards.
Mountain rescue teams have yet to recover his body.
Captain Patrice Ribes, of the Chamonix mountain rescue force, said the skier could have fallen up to 1,000 metres (3,000 feet).
"They set off earlier in the day together but then the weather turned bad," Cpt Ribes said.
"There was a storm and so they decided to turn around and walk back to the cable car.
"They left their skies on the mountain and started to climb. The British man fell from the north face at around 9pm.
"He would have been exhausted from the climb. The winds were very high and the visibility, poor.”
The Vallee Blanche route starts at the top of the Aiguille du Midi, at an altitude of around 3,800 metres.
One of the most dangerous points on the descent comes near the summit where the ground drops away several hundred metres from a narrow ridge.
According to local reports, the two skiers were attempting to cross this ridge when the British man fell to his death.
His companion made it back to the cable car safely.
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