Date of Incident

30/06/2019

Country

France

Incident

My partner and I were approaching the start of the Belvedere South Ridge in the Col des Dards. We hadn't brought ice axes but were wearing crampons. We hiked from the Lac Blanc refuge and I got a little impatient and complacent. I saw some rocks and thought it'd be easier if I scrambled over the rocks to the start of the route, instead of following the snow. I reached the rocks, took my crampons off and started scrambling. It was harder going than I thought and when I reached a band of snow, above a 15 m band of rocks, I thought I may as well go over the snow. I put my crampons on and started walking across the snow. It was midday and the snow was slushy. I took three or four steps and the snow pack gave way, pulling me towards the rocks. I was unable to arrest and hit the band of rocks at speed. I cartwheeled down over all the rocks, spinning like a ragdoll. I carried on down the snow slope and ended up sitting upright, about 60 m further down the slope, covered in blood and cuts.

My climbing partner immediately called the helicopter and the medical team arrived within 20 minutes. I didn't lose consciousness and the blood coagulated quickly. I had a huge gash on my arm, multiple cuts in my head, legs and hips.

I was given a CT scan in hospital and fortunately no bleeding on the brain, no breakages and nothing more serious than some cuts and ruptured shoulder ligaments. I really got lucky - I was not wearing a helmet and it could so easily have been worse.

Lessons

The mistake I made was to go on the snow above the rocks. I should have stayed below the rocks until the start of the climb, when I would have roped up with my climbing buddy and put helmets on. I also should have been more aware of conditions and brought an ice axe.

Activity

Mountaineering

When

Ascending

Injury

Serious injury requiring medical treatment

Causes

Slip, trip or fall

Anonymous?

Yes

Reported By

Participant

Wearing Helmets?

No

Rescue Services Involved?

PGHM Chamonix Mont-Blanc