Crevasse fall on Toula Glacier: mountain guide Ezio Marlier reports
Last Saturday a young man fell into a crevasse on the Col del Toula glacier (Mont Blanc). He is currently in hospital in Sallanches. The report and considerations of Ezio Marlier, a well-known alpinist and mountain guide from Valle d'Aosta who, together with Rifugio Torino hut warden and Mountain Guide Armando Chanoine, first reached the accident site.
Last Saturday, October 13th, my climbing partner Paolo Celesia and I were heading back to the Torino hut. As usual, there were a lot of people close to the refuge: children, people in moon boots... all completely unroped and without any climbing gear whatsoever. On the other side of Col de Flambeaux, all the way to Aiguille Marbrées even. This means a few hundred meters, half a kilometer even, of off-limits terrain. At Rifugio Torino there are lots of warning signs and barriers, and people have to scramble over them to get passed.
All of this though isn’t enough to stop them. Moreover, the worst thing was that when we finally got close to the hut, after having shouted at these people to warn them about the danger they were in, after reaching yet another “f you”, suddenly a lady reached us, shouting that someone had fallen into a crevasse. At that point the Torino hut warden, Armando Chanoine, who is also a mountain guide of the Courmayeur Mountain Guides Association, asked me to join him to see what had happened.
We quickly set off and and just beyond the Flambeaux col, inside a crevasse, 20 meters deep, there was a person. A person who hadn’t ventured out onto the glacier alone, but with 3 other friends. So 4 in total, each about 25 years old, in sneakers, without a worry in the world, going for a hike among the crevasses. Unfortunately it had snowed in the previous days. Not much, just a couple of centimetres, but the wind had covered the crevasses a little and one of these guys had ended falling down for 20 meters.
Of course there was not much we could do, so we immediately called the French Mountain Rescue, because we were in French territory. Six members of the Chamonix Peloton de Gendarmerie de Haute Montagne arrived by helicopter with tripod and winch to rescue the victim. It must be said that he was “lucky", because he had only fallen 20 meters... Currently he is in Sallanches hospital in serious but stable condition.
I’m recounting all of this because despite all the signs, all the barriers and other warnings, people continue to walk across this terrain. Obviously without the necessary gear and training. In fact, most don’t even know theyre on a glacier or what this means and involves. And I can guarantee that a few hundred meters from the hut, along the tracks that lead to Marbrées and Flambeaux, there are gaping crevasses. I’m amazed that with all these people ignoring the warnings, up until today there has only been one accident...
by Ezio Marlier - Alpine Guide