British skier dies in French Alps avalanche during outing with guide

The woman, 45, was airlifted off Mont Blanc glacier but died of her injuries

The avalanche happened on the Argentière glacier on the Mont Blanc massif
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A 45-year-old British tourist died in an avalanche on Saturday (January 14) on the Mont Blanc massif in the French Alps.

Her companion and a mountain guide were also caught up in the incident but uninjured.

The group was out on the Argentière glacier, one of the Mont Blanc mountain range’s biggest glaciers, when the avalanche happened.

The woman, who was believed to be ski touring at the time (hiking uphill on special skis before skiing down), was airlifted by mountain rescuers but died of her injuries.

Colonel Bertrand Host of the specialist mountain police service le Peloton de Gendarmerie de Haute-Montagne (PGHM) in Chamonix, said his team was called to the glacier at about 17:00 on Saturday.

“When we arrived she was in a bad condition and we evacuated her from the valley,” he told the PA news agency.

He said that around 80 people die on the Mont Blanc massif every year.

The BBC reports that an avalanche warning risk of three on a scale of five was in place on Saturday.

When contacted by The Connexion, a spokesperson for the PGHM said that weather conditions had been fairly good with a slightly cloudy to overcast sky at the time.

“The accident took place on the right bank of the Argentière glacier shortly before the traverse that allows you to join the left bank of the Grands Montets ski area to return to Argentiere,” the spokesperson added.

No further details about the identity of the two British people, including the victim, were given.

The public prosecutor's office in Bonneville (Haute-Savoie) has opened an investigation to determine the exact circumstances of the death and an autopsy has been ordered.

A spokesperson from the Foreign Office said it was assisting the woman’s family.

Temperatures this winter, which are well above seasonal averages in much of Europe, have seen many ski stations in France close their pistes due to a lack of snowfall.

Read also: Ski stations in France see some snow after major lack in mild January

Melting snow can make avalanches more likely. Warmer temperatures in recent years have also melted permafrost, raising the risk of rockfalls on the most popular Mont Blanc routes.

Last August, two mountain shelters used by Mont Blanc climbers were closed because of potentially deadly drought-related rockfalls.

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