News has just reached us that French Olympic champion snowboarder Karine Ruby died in a climbing accident on the Mont Blanc Massif today (Friday), sending the valley into shock.
The incident happened at around 13:00 in the Tour de Ronde area, when Ruby, 31, was part of a group of alpinists roped together on a descent. Unconfirmed reports say that Ruby was amongst a group of five roped together being led by Gilles Monchard when Gilles fell into a crevasse, pulling Karine Ruby and French climber Simon Ouest, who was 38, to their deaths. A third climber, 27, was also seriously injured and was helicoptered off the mountain.
Other reports are saying Ruby was with two clients, when a snowbridge gave way sending them all into a crevasse, killing Ruby and one of the clients and seriously injuring the other.
Karine, France's best known female Olympic snowboarder, won gold in the 1998 Nagano winter games for Giant Slalom and silver in the 2002 Salt Lake City parallel giant slalom competitions.
She bowed out of competition at the Turin Olympics in 2006 when, sponsored by Quechua, she got knocked out in the quarter finals of the boardercross. Since then, she had been an 'aspirant guide' working towards becoming a high mountain guide in Chamonix and was due to complete her training in the next few weeks.
French prime minister Francois Fillon paid tribute to the well-liked Chamoniarde saying she was 'an exceptional sportswoman'.
It's not the first time tragedy has touched the Ruby family. Karine's brother Jerome, himself an extreme sports enthusiast was struck by the death of his boarding partner Andre-Pierre 'Dede' Rhem in 2004.
Another sad day for the Chamonix valley and a reminder that the 'haute montagne' is a beautiful, yet unpredictably dangerous place.
Photo : getty