An American teen was left hanging 131 feet above the ground overnight after his father’s rappel failed, sending the man plummeting to his death. The 61-year-old father and 15-year-old teen were rappelling up the Les Droites, a mountain in the Mont Blanc range in the Alpines, when the father’s rappelling equipment failed. The father fell to his death, but the teen was left suspended on the cliff face. The teen was able to use his cellphone to call for help, and emergency responders were unable to send a helicopter rescue until the next day due to poor visibility from fog. Therefore, the frightened teen spent the entire night hanging from the cliff face before being rescued the next day.
The Daily Mail reports that an American teen and his father had rappelled up the Les Droites mountain in the French Alps to approximately 3,200 feet and were on their way down when the father’s rappelling equipment gave way. They were around 131 feet above the ground when the father took the fatal plunge. The pair has not been identified, however, reports indicate that both were American citizens living in London.
As the two descended down, the brake on the father’s rappel rope reportedly broke, sending him plummeting to his death. Meanwhile, the teen boy was left hanging from the cliff face with nowhere to go. He immediately used his cellphone to call for help. However, the rescue efforts were hampered when dense fog clouded the area. The rescue helicopter was unable to navigate to the teen’s location in the fog, and the rescue was called off until the next day as the teen was left to fend for himself on the dangerous cliff face.
Once rescuers made it to his location, the teen was taken to the hospital for treatment of “minor injuries.” Meanwhile, his father’s body was located and recovered by the crew. Stephane Bozon, the commander of the local high mountain police, says that that teen acted with a lot of courage for the 10 hours following his father’s horrific death.
“He was there for around 10 hours – hanging from the cliff face. We commend the way he acted, and his courage demonstrated throughout the night.”
The mayor of Saint-Gervais, where the incident took place, claims that the Mount Blanc range mountains are becoming more dangerous than their larger summits due to people not taking the risk seriously enough when attempting a climb to the lower peaks. Mayor Jean-Marc Peillex claims that the peaks are being treated “like an amusement park” and that deaths are resulting from the ill-equip climbers. He notes that this latest death should serve as a reminder that the mountains are dangerous despite not being as high as some of the other Alpine peaks.
“This has been one of the worst years for Mont Blanc in three ways — the number of deaths, the way it is being treated like a Disney theme park and the poor weather conditions. This accident is a harsh reminder that the mountain dictates its own laws.”
It was noted that dozens of people die climbing the Mount Blanc range each year as weather quickly changes on the summit, and visitors can get caught in the weather in a relatively short period of time. Additionally, overcrowding on the peaks can make falling rocks a problem.
[Photo by L’Osservatore Romano-Vatican Pool/Getty Images]