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French mountain rescue search for American man missing on Mont Blanc

Scott Putnam was last seen at the Tête Rousse refuge at 3,165m, where he spent the night from August 28-29

Police are searching for an American man who has gone missing while hiking up Mont Blanc; the Chamonix mountain rescue team is calling for anyone who may have seen him to come forward.

Scott Putnam is an experienced mountain hiker and had already ascended Mont Blanc 16 times. He was reported missing on Tuesday, August 31 in the Mont Blanc area of the Alps.

He is a US citizen, of athletic build, 1.80m tall, with brown hair.

He was last seen at the Tête Rousse refuge, where he slept overnight from Saturday, August 28 to Sunday, August 29, said the mountain rescue team Peloton de Gendarmerie de Haute Montagne de Chamonix Mont-blanc (PGHM).

The refuge itself raised the alert.

Police told The Connexion this morning that Mr Putnam’s car is still in the car park at the base of the route he took, which is the most common path used to ascend the famous mountain.

It is known as the voie normale (usual route) up to Mont Blanc, and passes by the Nid d’Aigle refuge at 2,372m, the Tête Rousse refuge at 3,165m, and the Gouter refuge at 3,815m. 

Mr Putnam’s phone GPS is so far not yielding any information as to his possible whereabouts. 

Anyone with any information is invited to call the Chamonix PGHM on 04 50 53 16 89.

It comes after a 65-year-old US man was discovered to have died while ascending Mont Blanc in August this year. He had a reservation at the Gouter refuge, but a search effort began after he did not check in for the night.

His body was found at the bottom of a crevasse, at about 4,500m, the PGHM said.

In June this year, mountain access community the Petzl foundation announced the results of a consultation on ways to make the voie normale route safer for climbers.

Recommendations included that multi-language signs of the dangers ahead be installed in the so-called ‘Gouter corridor’, and that strict time limits and ‘opening hours’ be imposed in the area, to ensure that hikers reach the corridor before 10:00.

There were 102 deaths and 230 injuries along the route between 1990 and 2017.

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