Tragedy in the Alps; French Ski Champion and Friend Fall to Their Deaths

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Climbers were advised last month to postpone trips in the French Alps as record dry conditions made the likelihood of rockfalls unusually high.

That doesn’t stop Alps enthusiasts from climbing or hiking there.

Tragically, two people lost their lives on Friday, August 12th, after falling off the face of Mont Blanc in the French Alps. One is reported to be Adèle Milloz, 26, a French ski mountaineering champion, and the other her unidentified friend, 30.

Milloz was undergoing training to become a mountain guide at the time of her death. She and her friend were hiking toward the Anguilla summit in the Mont Blanc range of the French Alps at the time of the fall. They were estimated to be about 10,000 feet up the side of the mountain when they fell. They were seen in descent by another group of mountaineers. The eyewitnesses also reported the two were roped together at the time.

The bodies were discovered Friday evening. 

The deaths have been ruled an accident. Officials acknowledge that the two were roped together when they fell. They have stated that the route the climbers were traveling wasn’t considered “particularly difficult,” but recent droughts in the area have made climbing more dangerous than usual. 

Authorities said they are investigating, and the cause is still unclear, although they have ruled out rockfall as the cause. 

Milloz had been skiing since she was 15-years-old and grew up in the Alps. She won several European and world titles in ski mountaineering and was a junior world sprint champion in ski mountaineering. She achieved a gold medal in individual and team sprint mountaineering at the Winter Military World Games in Sochi in 2017 and became a European Champion in 2018. Participants in this sport hike up a mountain before skiing down. 

Milloz retired from competition in 2019 to focus on training to become a mountain guide. Although she was not competing in the sport at the time of her death, her death has been felt by enthusiasts of the sport.

The French Mountain and Climbing Federation first announced her death on August 13th in an announcement on their website. In their statement, they stated they “will always miss her smile.”

As this shocking news breaks, the industry and world are reeling. France’s Minister of Sport and the Olympics, Amélie Oudéa-Castéra, tweeted condolences, writing in French, “Deeply saddened by the death of ski mountaineering champion Adèle Milloz in Mont-Blanc, at the age of 26, and of the woman who was by her side. I extend my deepest condolences to her family, loved ones, and her colleagues from the National School of Skiing and Mountaineering in Chamonix.”

The Chairman of the Company of Guides of Chamonix, Olivier Gruber said, according to The Sun, “Adèle was a luminous young woman. The whole company feels infinite sadness today.” 

The news of her passing is especially difficult for avid enjoyers of the sport as it has been announced that ski mountaineering, or skimo, will be included in the 2026 Winter Olympics for the first time.

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