Five Haute Route Skiers Dead, One Missing Near Matterhorn

Five skiers are dead and one is still missing in the Swiss Alps near Zermatt, the famous resort town at the foot of the Matterhorn.

The group went missing on Saturday while ski-touring on Tete Blanche, one of the classic peaks in the area. Rescue patrols were unable to locate the bodies until last night, because of high avalanche risk and bad weather that grounded the helicopters.

The search continues for the missing skier. Authorities have not revealed the identity of the victims, but they were all Swiss nationals and five were members of the same family. Their ages ranged between 21 and 58 years old.

Part of the Haute Route

The famous Haute Route links Chamonix and Zermatt via a week-long, 120km ski with stops overnight in high mountain refuges. At 3,710m, the Tete Blanche is the high point of the tour. It lies on the Swiss-Italian border, between the Valais and the Aosta Valleys. From its summit, the route is a long descent on glaciers until the finish at Zermatt.

Tete Blanche map

The red line marks the Haute Route between Zermatt, on the right, and the Col de Valpelline, near the summit of Tete Blanche. Photo Chauvin Guides


The group involved in the incident had gone in the opposite direction from usual, beginning at Zermatt, the BBC reported. It is not clear whether they were headed for a mountain hut or intended to summit Tete Blanche and return to Zermatt on a long day tour.

Weather and snow conditions in the area were hazardous throughout the weekend, with lots of fresh snowfall and high winds.

Angela Benavides

Angela Benavides graduated university in journalism and specializes in high-altitude mountaineering and expedition news. She has been writing about climbing and mountaineering, adventure and outdoor sports for 20+ years.

Prior to that, Angela Benavides spent time at/worked at a number of local and international media. She is also experienced in outdoor-sport consultancy for sponsoring corporations, press manager and communication executive, and a published author.