Jornet rescued from the Frendo Spur


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steve shea

Sep 9, 2013 - 05:50pm PT
Rescues of what type? On foot? Maybe. I spent a long time in the Massif in the 70's. Very early on we were advised by locals to buy rescue insurance. The CAF office was the first stop in Cham for those in the know. I remember it went from about fifty to eighty USD over my time there. We were absolutely aware of French rescue costs. Things must have changed significantly. They did not say heli rescue just rescue. Also seeing helo rescues of climbers was an almost daily event not isolated at all. As a matter of fact the obit notices were posted on the Place de l'Eglise wall outside the meteo after every big weather event and the helos operated nonstop at times. The PGHM also did body evacs with the body bagged outside the bird in plain sight. Hard to miss. Then at Snells or the Biolet or the Midi pherique camping the PGHM or Gendarmerie would come in and pack up the deceased's gear. We saw this a lot. Things really must have changed. It took me awhile to ignore the helos or I never would have climbed there. They were a constant reminder of the seriousness of the sport we were involved in.

In '77 I think, not sure, there was a very tragic accident on the NF Tour Rond. The top party fell off and swept several parties below into the schrund. All were killed. It was a landmark case in France because for the first time ever a suit was brought by the families to recoup rescue costs and get money from to top group's family. Liability. It was thrown out if I remember correctly.

Sep 9, 2013 - 06:09pm PT
The article (in French) says Kilian and partner were rescued on foot (PGHM walked down from the Aiguille du Midi tram's top station).

Mountaineering-related rescues represent about 20% of all rescues in the summer and 10% of non ski area related rescues in the winter. My "relatively low" statement was certainly unclear. I should have written "far from the majority of all rescues".

A lot of the helicopters/planes buzzing around both sides of Chamonix these days are sightseeing and not rescue related.


Boulder climber
Sep 9, 2013 - 06:53pm PT
Otherwise it'll become boring yes

This speaks volumes. If taking a risk makes it non-boring, then rescue yourself.

Sep 9, 2013 - 06:55pm PT
The pitches just below the top of the spur are steeper ice than the famous fin of snow leading up to the Rognon. Wouldn't have wanted approach shoes in the conditions I saw (which, I take it, were pretty typical). I mean, it's low angle ice for ice climbing; but, on the other hand, it's pretty freaking steep ice for "approach-shoeing"!

Glad they are safe. Agree with Donini that people can go for it however they wish, and also that they should not expect or depend on rescues. Also agree that people should try to be "responsible" when their actions might put others at risk (e.g., SAR, though in this case that's not really an issue).

Sep 9, 2013 - 06:57pm PT
It's very likely (certain?) that Jornet and Forsberg are members of one of the alpine clubs and have rescue insurance.

If you're all het up about the costs why not make it like car insurance? If you get rescued once, your premium goes up.

Trad climber
Poughkeepsie, NY
Topic Author's Reply - Sep 10, 2013 - 01:01am PT
As for the cost of rescue in France, it seems to depend on whether or not the PGHM judges your situation to have been life-threatening. If not, then you pay. See, for example, .

It sounds as if the charged and rescued team should have sat tight until they were dying, at which point the same rescue would have been free.

Sep 10, 2013 - 01:20am PT

a few questions that come to mind:

who gets to decide how much is too little?

or is it too little only if you require a rescue?

or is something like house/anderson on the rupal face equally as "irresponsible"?

or is it only okay because in that case after a certain point, there was no chance of rescue?

what i'm taking away from this enlightening discussion: only go light and string yourself out if you can't get rescued.

got it.

thanks supertopo denizens!

Sep 10, 2013 - 02:05am PT

The rescue from your link happened in Italy (Aosta Valley). The Valdotain SAR function as the article states, charging for a rescue if in a non life threatening situation (does not mean the rescued party has to be injured just that injury or death is a real possibility if not rescued).

There is indeed a current debate in France and in the French Alps especially as to whether or not to charge for "unnecessary rescues," but as of now people who are rescued are not billed.

French Alpine Club (CAF) is not expensive, roughly 25 per year, but only available to members at this price.

This insurance covers rescues in other European countries as well as any treatment or care related to an accident.
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