News Headlines     |     


Thursday October 18, 2018 - Email this article to a friend

A man who fell 20 metres down a crevasse in the Alps was ill-equipped and should never have been on the glacier, according to a mountain guide.

Ezio Marlier, who was involved in the rescue last weekend, said the man and three friends ignored warning signs written in several languages and went onto the Toula glacier above the ski resort of Courmayeur in the Valle d'Aosta without adequate equipment or preparation.

The 24-year-old man fell through a thin layer of snow that had fallen and covered the crevasse.

He is said to be in a serious but stable condition in hospital.

"He had nothing, he wore jeans and leather boots," Marlier said, adding that the four were "without a worry in the world, going for a hike among the crevasses".

None had ropes or climbing gear.

"They certainly did not do it on purpose, but they certainly did not know what they were doing and where they were going."

He has shared his photos of the rescue operation with PlanetSKI in the hope that it will serve as a warning to others.

Crevasse rescueThe rescued man - photo Ezio Marlier













Marlier and the warden of the nearby Refuge Torino, Armando Chanoine, were alerted to the accident at around lunchtime on Saturday, 13th October, and went to help.

He said they kept the casualty talking and called the high mountain police in Chamonix to recover him.

A doctor was lowered into the crevasse to treat and stabilise him before he could be winched out.

Crevasse rescueThe rescue operation - photo Ezio Marlier













The man was in the crevasse for an hour before he could be rescued.

Crevasse rescueDealing with the casualty













He was airlifted by helicopter to hospital in Sallanches.

Helicopter airliftHelicopter airlift - photo Ezio Marlier













The accident happened not far from the relatively new Skyway cable car.

It opened in 2015 and gives access to the glaciers of Mont Blanc.

Pedestrians can go up from Courmayeur to Punta Helbronner at almost 3,500 metres where there's a restaurant, an exhibition and a 360 degree terrace to enjoy the views.

Skyway Monte BiancoLooking towards the top of the Skyway Monte Bianco, April 2018















It's the starting point for a number of marked hiking trails and, in the winter, off-piste ski routes, including the 24km Vallee Blanche down to Chamonix on the French side of Mont Blanc.

Ezio Marlier said walkers frequently ignore the warnings posted at the top of the Skyway not to venture onto the glacier without a guide and the correct equipment.

He's seen families head into the dangerous territory to take selfies.

Just before hearing of the fall last weekend he spotted people with children up to a kilometre into the off-limits terrain.

He said he was sworn at after shouting out to warn another group who were on the glacier.

Ezio Marlier, Mountain guideEzio Marlier




















"We knew that something would happen sooner or later, unfortunately it happened to a guy who ended up injuring himself seriously," he said.

Ezio Marlier said he was telling his story because, despite signs, barriers and other warnings, people continued to walk onto this type of terrain where there are gaping crevasses, without the necessary gear and training.

"In fact most don't even know they're on a glacier or what this means and involves.... I'm amazed that with all these people ignoring the warnings, up until today, there has only been one accident."

See here for the main PlanetSKI news page with all the latest stories from the mountains.

For the Spirit of the Mountains - PlanetSKI: Number One for ski news

Related Articles

THE SKI CHALET 2019 (Wednesday January 16, 2019)
WHAT A RESCUE! (Sunday January 13, 2019)
AVALANCHE DEATHS (Tuesday January 8, 2019)
#WINTERISCOMING (Saturday January 5, 2019)

With thanks to our main sponsors...

Platinum partners

Bronze partners