A 15-year-old boy spent over 10 hours dangling over a cliff edge in the Alps after his friction brakes – which are designed for descending – completely failed.
The teen was with his 61-year-old father when it all happened and he tragically witnessed his dad fall to his death in front of him, police have said.
They were together on the south face of Les Droites, a mountain in the Mont Blanc range of the French Alps, when his father’s rappel – the friction brakes designed for descending ropes – is thought to have failed, sending him plunging 40 metres.
The American boy managed to contact emergency services on his phone during the drama, but because of the poor weather conditions, it proved impossible and too risky to send a rescue helicopter up to him. This forced the boy to endure a harrowing night hanging against the cliff face from around 9pm until 7.30am the next morning, when rescue workers could finally get to his side.
Stephane Bozon, commander of the local high mountain police commended the way he acted and the courage he displayed throughout his horrifying ordeal. After being rescued the boy was treated for minor injuries and his father’s body has been recovered.
This death comes amid fears from professional climbers that the mountain range is becoming an ‘amusement park’ for climbers who are normally ill-equipped and simply unaware of the potential risks climbing Mont Blanc poses. Dozens die every year trying to reach the 20,000ft summit.
Our thoughts go out to the boy and his family at this terrible time.