In thirteen years of operation and over two thousand seven hundred clients to date, the worst accidents any experienced were a broken wrist after a fall on a footpath, and a broken ankle after tripping over crampons during a crampon training exercise. (last update end of season 2016)
This was one incident in 2013 and one in 2014, prior to that it was only cuts, bruises, and sprains. We usually have one or two precautionary helicopter evacuations for altitude sickness each year, but the victim has always recovered extremely fast, often before the helicopter reaches the valley. Our full accident history excluding (fully recovered from) altitude sickness, sprains, cuts, bruises etc. is shown below, and any future incidents will also be reported here:
Accident History 2004 – present (2016):
2009: Guide suffered broken rib and considerable cuts and bruises after fall on steep snow descent gulley. All guides subsequently instructed to avoid this gulley in the future. No clients involved.
2011: Suspecting rock fall and therefore having left clients in the Tete Rousse hut for a “guides only” reconnaissance of the Grand Couloir, a guide was subsequently hit in the leg after a very large rock fall from below the Gouter hut. The guide sustained major bruising to his leg but fully recovered in a few days. No clients involved.
2013: Client tripped and fell breaking his wrist on the footpath below the hut whilst descending back to the valley.
2014: Client suffered broken ankle after tripping over crampons during crampon training exercise.
Safety is absolutely paramount to us, and we consider our safety record as infinitely more important than our summiting record. We do not hesitate to turn back in marginal conditions or with overly tired clients, as even experts can come unstuck if they push the limits often enough. All our guides carry radios that allow them to talk to the rescue services or each other at any time and wherever they are on the mountain, this being particularly important due to the many areas still without mobile phone reception. Radios also make it much easier to change teams around if anyone is having a problem and needs to go down.
Accidents are always a possibility in the mountains of course, and the fact that an operator has had one does not mean they are a bad operator; to be clear most well known operators probably have safety records similar to ours. We are however very proud of our accident record to date and maintaining this standard will always be our top priority.