British skier dies in Alpine storm
Published 19/05/2013 | 16:57
A British skier has died while tackling a famous off-piste glacier in the French Alps, local police said.
The man was out with another skier when they were caught in a bad storm as they descended the challenging Vallee Blanche near Chamonix.
The British man, who has not been identified, 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.
He plummeted to his death following a long climb back up towards the ski lift. 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 (3,200ft).
He said the two men - who met on the internet to arrange the excursion - would have faced driving winds of up to 100km per hour and heavy snow as they clambered back up the mountain on Saturday night.
The Vallee Blanche route starts at the top of the Aiguille du Midi, at an altitude of around 3,800 metres (12,500ft).
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. Capt Ribes said the Vallee Blanche was a popular route for competent skiers. But he said winds at high altitude could reach speeds which made conditions dangerous for skiing.
A Foreign Office spokesman said: "We are aware of reports of the death of a British national in France and we stand ready to provide consular assistance."