Identified five skiers who were found dead, ‘fell asleep together’ after freezing to death on doomed Swiss skiing trip | Report


Identified five skiers who were found dead,

The victims, whose bodies were found in the Swiss Alps on Sunday night after being reported missing during a brutal storm on Saturday, were named as brothers Jean-Vincent Moix, 30, David Moix, 27, and Laurent Moix, 21. Also involved in the tragedy on the Tete Blanche mountain were their cousin Marc Moix, 44, and their uncle Joel Moix, 58. The sixth member of their skiing group was identified as as 28-year-old law graduate Emilie Deschenaux, David’s girlfriend, whose backpack and skis were found next to the bodies. The search for Emilie had to be called off earlier today due to fog but is expected to resume tomorrow.

The parents of Jean-Vincent, David and Laurent said that their beloved sons ‘fell asleep together’ while doing something they were passionate about. They also noted that ‘Emilie, David’s love, is still on the mountain’ Marc Moix’s death notice by his family reads: ‘After a last hike in the mountains to share his light, he has become our new star, which will now be our guide.’ His loved ones also thanked those involved in the search for Marc and the others, writing: ‘Through their professionalism, their availability, their listening, their empathy, they brought everyone a little light and comfort in these difficult moments of waiting.’ Meanwhile Joel’s wife and daughters said he ‘left full of enthusiasm for his last ascent with his dear climbing companions’. This comes after rescuers desperately searching for Emilie have said ‘miracles happen’ as they hope to find her alive. Air Zermatt chief Anjan Truffer, the lead rescuer deployed to find the group, said his team previously saved people who had been missing for days, giving workers a glimmer of hope that Emilie may still be alive. ‘We have already found missing people several days later, miracles always happen,’ he said, after local police spokesman Daniel Imboden told Blick that hope remains Emilie may have survived the storm.

Swiss media have speculated she may have fallen into a nearby crevice, given that her backpack and skis were found but rescuers have been unable to visually locate her. The area is full of crevices – [she] may have fallen near the other members of the group. But this is just speculation,’ Truffer said. Earlier the mountain rescue chief described how his team discovered five bodies scattered on the mountain. ‘First we found two people lying on the snow, severely hypothermic. Thanks to sounding poles and avalanche locators, we later found two more people lying under the snow cover. We had to shovel these out. When we found the people, they were very lightly dressed… they ended up disorientated at high altitude,’ Truffer told Swiss outlet NZZ.

He added that the ski tourers had tried to build a cave and protect themselves from the gales – in temperatures of -30 degrees C with windchill and gusts of up to 75 miles per hour – to no avail. That’s actually a good idea. But the group didn’t have the necessary equipment with them. They had shovels, but they were too light to do anything with this massive blanket of snow,’ Truffer concluded. The skiers were only wearing thin suits and only carried light equipment, according to local media – despite forecasts of dangerous gusts on the mountain. It’s crazy. ‘You can see it coming, a wall of clouds,’ a mountain tourer told Blick about the approaching storm in the mountains. Truffer added: ‘It is negligent to undertake such hikes with such weather forecasts.’ Klaus Aufdenblatten, another Valais mountain guide, agreed as he said: ”The alpinists completely underestimated the weather conditions. The wind in particular can develop enormous power.’ The group of six skiers had left Zermatt Saturday morning with the goal of reaching the town of Arolla, near the Matterhorn mountain, later that day. But as the group passed close to the Tete Blanche, a mountain peak between Zermatt and Arolla, the region was engulfed in a brutal storm that left the skiers stranded at an altitude of around 11,400ft (3,500 metres).

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‘Fell asleep together’ after freezing to death on doomed Swiss skiing trip: Investigation Report

A member of the group sent a distress call to emergency services around 5pm on Saturday afternoon, authorities said, but helicopters and rescue teams were unable to deploy, such was the ferocity of the storm. Five rescuers who tried to find them on foot had to turn back due to the bad weather. By the time a rescue team finally reached the mountain on Sunday evening, five of the six alpine enthusiasts had perished close to the Dent Blanche alpine cabin. Colleagues of Jean-Vincent paid tribute to him yesterday, including the mayor of Vex – a small village in the Swiss canton of Valais where the deceased had only recently been elected as a councillor. The former private banker, who was also educated at the University of Westminster, was a keen mountaineer and had decided to switch careers.

Mayor Sebastien Menoud said: ‘It is such a huge tragedy to lose a colleague on the local council. Our thoughts are with him, his family and those around him and we express our deepest condolences to them. ‘One knows that it is an immeasurable pain that his family is now confronted with.’ David also lived in Vex and was a lawyer. His girlfriend, Emilie, studied law and works in Fribourg as an administrator for the local water company, according to her LinkedIn account. A friend of David, Lucas Nanchen, posted on Facebook: ‘Why is it always the best ones leave first? David (like his brothers) was the epitome of selflessness, always listening. David was very generous. ‘Lowkey he never came forward and yet he could have. The mountains of his region, which he knew by heart and cherished so much, took him away.’

A close friend of police officer Marc Moix told Blick: ‘He was like a brother to me. I’ve known him for a very long time. He is a generous person with an extraordinary attitude to life. ‘He loved life, his friends and his family. He lived his life 200 percent. It devastated me when I found out what had happened.’

Last night, a group of around 300 people in Vex gathered for a memorial procession, laying candles before listening to a performance by a local brass band, of which Jean-Vincent was a member. Christian Varone, head of Valais cantonal police, told reporters yesterday that rescue workers had pulled out all the stops to try to reach the stranded skiers on Saturday evening but faced horrendous conditions. ‘We were trying the impossible,’ he said, adding that the mission had pushed its efforts ‘to the extreme, extreme limit’, but were forced to turn around to avoid ‘seriously endangering the lives of the rescue workers.’ He added: ‘Sometimes you have to bow before nature.’

Truffer confirmed that emergency services received a distress signal from one of the skiers at around 5:19pm local time on Saturday. This, he said, gave rescuers a rough location in the Col de Tete Blanche, whose peak stands at 12,160ft above sea level. Truffer told Blick that the weather was so bad that flying in to rescue the skiers simply wasn’t an option. He said there were ‘very strong winds, heavy snow, high avalanche danger, and zero visibility’ which would leave rescuers ‘dead in two minutes’. He added that when the group left Zermatt, the bad weather conditions were already known and he believes that the skiers were caught in the storm rather than struck by an avalanche. With helicopters unable to brave the storm, five rescuers had tried to reach the rough location on foot from Zermatt, but they too were forced to turn back at an altitude of 9,840ft due to the bad weather, according to local media reports.

Freezing to Death on doomed Swiss skiing trip | Report

On Sunday, a team consisting of two rescue workers, a doctor and a mountain police officer, was finally able to be dropped off by helicopter nearby, police said. At around 9:20 pm, it reached the Tete Blanche sector, where it discovered the bodies of five of the six people who were missing,’ it said in a statement. The search is continuing for Emilie, the last member of the group. ‘As long as there is hope we will keep going… while remaining realistic in view of the conditions this person has been in for the past 48 hours,’ Varone said. Fredy-Michel Roten from the Valais Rescue Organisation told local press that six private rescue helicopters and two Swiss army Super Puma choppers are participating in the rescue mission along with dozens of specialist mountaineers. Valais lead prosecutor Beatrice Pilloud told reporters that an investigation had been launched to determine the circumstances surrounding the incident.

Zermatt is a popular mountain resort renowned for skiing and attracts tourists from around the world. Tete Blanche in particular is very popular with ski tourers who are attracted by the region’s renowned landscape and the challenging terrain it offers. The region hosts the esteemed Patrouille des Glaciers race, which sees ski tourers traverse a route from Zermatt through Arolla and on to Verbier. But the area is notoriously difficult to navigate during periods of poor visibility, and has proven fatal for even highly experienced skiers and mountaineers. Nearly five years ago, tragedy struck when 14 members from two ski touring parties became disoriented amidst a fierce storm on treacherous slopes. The ensuing rescue operation endured for almost 21 gruelling hours before reaching the stranded groups. Seven people died, while the rest were evacuated with varying degrees of injury.

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