SPOT Saves

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Trapped by a storm near the summit of Mont Blanc

Vicente Sutil
Photo Credit: Nicolas Gantz

In 2017, Vicente Sutil, a professional big mountain skier, and two friends planned to ski down Mont Blanc, the highest mountain in the Alps. The aim was to hike up to the summit at 4,800 meters then spend a day skiing down to Chamonix at the base.

The three Chileans started hiking up the mountain carrying their equipment and the forecast was perfect. But when they were 500m below the summit, a localised storm appeared out of nowhere.

They were prepared for Mont Blanc's unpredictable weather and dug a hole with their shovels to sit out the storm. They set up probes outside the snow hole so they could be found even if the snow covered them completely.

They had gas and some food but the conditions remained very challenging and events took a turn for the worse when one of the three starting suffering from frostbite.

"We waited ten hours for a break in the weather so that a helicopter could reach us. As soon as there was a chance, I pressed the SOS button on my SPOT Gen3," said Vicente.

Vicente had bought a SPOT Gen3 two years ago for its small size and low cost. Since then he keeps it on his backpack for every trip in the mountains. It allows his friends and family back home to track his progress and he uses it to send messages when there are issues.

Chamonix Ski Patrol Center received Vicente's precise GPS location and sent a helicopter to rescue the three skiers. Just two hours after pressing the button, all three were off the mountain and able to get medical attention.

Thanks to the speed of the rescue, the friend with frostbite was able to make a full recovery. "SPOT Gen3's SOS button saved our lives," said Vicente.