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Climbing fatalities


Two more mountain deaths add to deadly week


By swissinfo.ch and agencies


Tourbillon castle (left) and Valere castle in front of the Bietschhorn mountain (Keystone)

Tourbillon castle (left) and Valere castle in front of the Bietschhorn mountain

(Keystone)

Two German mountain climbers have been found dead on the Bietschhorn mountain in canton Valais. The deaths come days after six people died in two separate incidents on Monte Rosa.

The 29-year-old man and 28-year-old woman, who lived in Valais, had left the Baltschiederklause hut early on Saturday morning attempting to climb the 3,934-metre (12,906ft) Bietschhorn and then descend via the Bietschhorn hut, according to Valais police. They were reported missing on Monday and their corpses were found on Wednesday.

In a separate accident on Monday, three climbers died near Switzerland’s highest mountain, Monte Rosa, less than 24 hours after a collapsed snow cornice sent three other mountaineers plunging to their deaths.

Two of the climbers who died on Monday morning were attempting to summit the 4,092-metre Pollux peak when they slipped on an ice sheet and fell several hundred metres. The other was on the way to the Castor peak in the same group of mountains.

Hot summer

Problems caused by a hot summer can include melting glaciers and permafrost, which holds rocks together. As a result, the risk of rockfalls or even rockslides and rock avalanches is significantly higher.

Last summer saw many more accidents in the mountains than in 2014, mainly as a result of the hot weather, said the Swiss Alpine Club (SAC). However, many climbers do not know routes or set off too late in the day.

By the end of September 2015 there had been around 2,400 accidents in the Swiss mountains, 330 more than during the same period last year. The number of fatalities also increased – from 106 to 150.

It is not just inexperienced climbers who are at risk. In July, the highly accomplished Swiss alpinist Norbert Joos, who had summited 13 of the 14 peaks in the world that are above 8,000 metres without the use of supplemental oxygen, died in a climbing accident on the highest mountain in Switzerland’s Bernina Range. 

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swissinfo.ch and agencies

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