The world of ski-alpinism has lost one of its most noted players with the death of Stéphane Brosse on the Aiguille d'Argentière.
With Kilian Jornet, film-maker Sébastien Montaz-Rosset and Bastien Fleury, Brosse was attempting a rapid crossing of the Mont Blanc Massif from Les Contamines in the west to Champex in Switzerland.
Day one had seen them traverse the Dômes de Miage, Aiguille Bionnassay and Mont Blanc, descend to the Vallée Blanche, continue northeast to the Mer de Glace and climb up to the Couvercle Hut.
Leaving the following morning the team crossed to the Argentière Glacier, descended a little and then climbed up to the summit ridge of the Aiguille d'Argentière (3,902m).
It was whilst moving along the summit crest towards the top of the Barbey Couloir on the east face, which they planned to ski to the Saleina Glacier, that the 40-year old Brosse broke through a large cornice and fell ca 600m.
Brosse was the individual World Champion at Sierre Chevalier in 2002, was part of the relay team that won the World Championships in 2004, and gained his third World title in the 2006 team race.
In addition he held the record for the fastest crossing of the Haute Route from the church in Chamonix to the church in Zermatt, a time of 21 hours and 11 minutes. He also climbed and descended Mont Blanc on skis in a time of five hours and 15 minutes. This was the fastest ski ascent and descent of the mountain, and only a little longer than the round trip summer record.
Brosse and Jornet hoped to try the Mont Blanc crossing in May but conditions were not suitable. Instead they tested themselves by traversing the entire Massif des Aravis (an often jagged crest west of Mont Blanc), from Mont Charvin to Pointe Percée, in just 10½ hours (35km with 6,000m of ascent).
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