Having set out at 6.30am in the morning from the refuge de Tete Rousse (3160m) and returning from the summit of the Mont Blanc, at around 8pm last Thursday evening two French climbers died on the north face of the Gouter. They had been making an attempt to reach the refuge du Gouter (3817m). A third member of group was only injured as the group fell 400m whilst lost returning from the summit of Mont Blanc.
Originally the three were part of a group of five climbers accompanied by two mountain guides from La Vanoise region who decided to rest at the Vallot hut (4360m) with two worn out members of the team.
Believing the difficulty stages were behind them and that the remaining climbers would have been able to follow the ascent trail, the guides let the three continue down unassisted. Unfortunately it seems the wind had erased their original tracks.
Roped together and realising they had descended too low the party tlephone mountain rescue who advised them to return to the summit of the Gouter (4300m) to rejoin the normal route. When just below the summit of the Gouter at 4000m one of them slippped started the fall which killed two of them on the way.
An enquiry is underway to determine responsibility for the accident.