Need to burn some time staring at your computer this afternoon before you’re out of the office and off to pursue actual passions? Might I suggest this gripping tale of a tragedy that unfolded on one of the world’s most iconic ski touring routes this past Spring?
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Like so many disasters in the mountains, this one unfolds as bad decision is piled on bad decision on the Haute (“High”) Route between Chamonix and Zermatt. The fact that we’re privy to such grisly details is because one survivor was determined to speak out about her experience. The other’s… not so much. Let’s just stay the finger-pointing is full on.
“Ten people is a big group for such an ambitious trek. A large group is invariably slow, which is why Mario Castiglioni opted to travel light. In case of emergency, he always had his satellite phone.”
“The group piled into a small bus and a car and headed to Chamonix. They reached their hotel around 5 p.m. and gathered in an inner courtyard, where their guide went over the equipment they would need to cross the Haute Route: skis, poles, climbing skins, helmet, goggles, headlamp with extra batteries, gloves, thermos, travel-sized first-aid kit and sleeping bag. There were also beacons, shovels and probes in case anybody got caught in an avalanche. Not to mention climbing harnesses, ropes, crampons and ice picks for when things got steep. If anyone had forgotten something, the guide said, now would be the time to say so.”
Too much description beyond this point would fall into the spoiler category, so just carve out some time for it if you can. It’s well-written and compelling from start to finish. An unofficial must-read.