Missing French Alps climber found...43 years later

The remains of a young climber who went missing in the French Alps more than 40 years ago appear to have been found, with his family never giving up hope that he would be discovered one day.

10 September 2019
By Connexion journalist

This week, emergency rescue teams in the Isère brought down human remains from the Massif des Ecrins area of the Alps, after the late climber’s family noticed “an orange mark” on the Long de l’Ailefroide glacier while riding between the Isère and the Hautes-Alpes.

The family, who had never given up hope of finding their relative in the mountain, called the CRS Alpes rescue team, based in Grenoble. The family is well-known to the CRS, who said they “show up often”.

Two CRS climbers were dropped by helicopter on-site on Monday September 9, at around 3,000 metres, and brought down “shreds of clothing and human remains”, reports said.

Major Laurent Soullier, commander at CRS Alpes, said: “We are still waiting for DNA test results, but this could very well be Jean-François Benedetti, who disappeared [on a solo climb] on July 25, 1976. His parents have [since] died, but his brother and friends were continuing the search.”

The climber’s father, Georges Benedetti, was a former MP and senator for the Gard department, and died in Corsica in November last year (2018).

The story of Jean-François’s disappearance was covered by cartoonist and climber Jean-Marc Rochette in his autobiographical work, Ailefroide, Altitude 3.954, which came out in March 2018.

Mr Rochette met Jean-François’s mother at the time, and tried to reassure her, by saying: “The glacier will take 50 years to give him back”. It reality, it took “only” 43 years.

Stay informed:
Sign up to our free weekly e-newsletter
Subscribe to access all our online articles and receive our printed monthly newspaper The Connexion at your home. News analysis, features and practical help for English-speakers in France

Resident or second-home owner in France?
Benefit from our daily digest of headlines and how-to's to help you make the most of life in France
By joining the newsletter, you agree to our Terms & Conditions and Privacy Policy
See more popular articles
The Connexion Help Guides
Income Tax in France 2021 (for 2020 income)*
Featured Help Guide
Order your Income Tax in France guide now for immediate digital access
Get news, views and information from France