DEADLY ACCIDENT IN THE CIRQUE DE LA SOLITUDE (Wed 10 June 2015)

Malte8900

Posted: Wed, Jun 10, 2015, 22:28

Anyone who speaks french that can explain or knows anything about this??:
http://www.ouest-france.fr/corse-trois-touristes-morts-et-deux-grievemen...
Seems like there has been a terrible accident at cirque de la solitude!?

- Malte



Michele
moderator

Posted: Thu, Jun 11, 2015, 5:40

Wednesday, June 10
Three hikers have died, seven are seriously injured and several others might have disappeared Wednesday on the hiking trail GR 20 in Corsica because of bad weather in what is one of the most serious accidents on the GR20.

Loosely translated from this page: http://france3-regions.francetvinfo.fr/corse/2015/06/10/drame-d-ascu-ce-...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wambTZfKKCk

BAD WEATHER --- BAD WEATHER --- BAD WEATHER
Some people just don't seem to give a s... about bad weather warnings.
I don't speak French but from what I understood there has been some sort of landslide during a heavy rainstorm in the Cirque.
The landslide (and rock falls) must have carried away people. 3 are dead, seven seriously injured and others are missing.

If anyone has any more news please fill us in. This has been a terrible tragedy.

--Michele

PS
This http://postimg.org/image/y2qlbf1ub/ is what happens in the Spasimata valley when it rains. The same happens in the Cirque ..... only a hundred times stronger.



Gaffr

Posted: Thu, Jun 11, 2015, 6:18

Hello,
Just caught up with the news. The rainfall must have been very heavy. On a day like this best to keep away from higher areas.
On account of heavy traffic, causing erosion on the route, the amount of debris lying around in the Cirque has increased even in the eight years or so that I have know this area. In 2013 a large boulder, this was slightly away from the marked route, did move when I pulled on it but where were a few folks below me so I did not release it.
Comparing 2007 to 2013 I did take images of vegetation/flowers above the rock slabs heading towards Bocca Minuta ( the top of the up side when heading South). In 2013 the vegetation had been eroded away.
Of course at the moment we don't know which side of the Cirque moved ( maybe both did?) but maybe I have indicated with my posts? that I have felt that tumbling boulders and debris were the main worries in the cirque. But I guess my concerns were releases of stones from the movement of human traffic.
My French wife is away in Austria with her cycle at the moment so I can't help with the translation.

--

Gaffr



lanterne_rouge

Posted: Thu, Jun 11, 2015, 6:26

Terrible news.
This video shows what happens in the cirque during heavy rain..
http://youtu.be/bs_ind5Ikh8



kirktash

Posted: Thu, Jun 11, 2015, 6:39

I am in Calvi now and was in Calenzana yesterday when this happened. News is not being picked up at all by any US outlets. For those of you considering this trek, please be careful. Even the Southern section, which is supposed to be "easier" requires some basic knowledge of scrambling (read: rock climbing without ropes). Many of the guidebooks don't accurately describe how difficult this trek is, so please do your research (including using this forum, which is a great source of info) before attempting the GR20. We stopped after the Vizzavona and traveled the island instead (which is truly beautiful!) for the remainder of our trip.



Michele
moderator

Posted: Thu, Jun 11, 2015, 6:53

Thank you lantern rouge. That video is a precious source of visual information. But I believe the rage of water in yesterday's accident must have been unbelievably stronger.



Malte8900

Posted: Thu, Jun 11, 2015, 8:09

Thank you for the replies. Sounds horrible. The weather on the gr20 is definitely no joke. What a terrible incident!

- Malte



HARDT

Posted: Thu, Jun 11, 2015, 11:31

According to this article (http://www.corsematin.com/article/asco/video-trois-morts-et-trois-blesse...) it seems like melting snow was the cause of the accident (that is if I am translating right...). This could mean that the implicated hikers were not actually defying a bad weather forecast, but were victims of very unfortunate circumstances that no one might have foreseen. It is scary altogether.

If everything goes as planned (and if this stage has been opened again...) I will be making my way through the Cirque on Saturday 20th, this month. I will be looking closely at the weather forecasts and any news that might appear on this sight.

The text below is from the article I have linked to:

Ce mercredi après-midi aux alentours de 15h45, un accident s'est produit sur le parcours de randonnée du GR20, au niveau du cirque de la solitude, sur la commune d'Asco en Haute-Corse.

Le bilan est lourd, un éboulement aurait causé la mort de trois personnes ensevelies et aurait fait deux blessés. Un premier souffrirait d'un traumatisme crânien, un autre du dos. Une personne ensevelie a été retrouvée indemne. Six personnes étaient sur place.

Ce serait une coulée de neige, fondue à cause des fortes chaleurs, qui aurait déclenché un éboulement de terre et de roches.



Michele
moderator

Posted: Thu, Jun 11, 2015, 12:44

Here is another article where it's stated that a "mini-storm" was in place and caused the mudslide and landslide.

http://www.lamontagne.fr/france-monde/actualites/a-la-une/national/2015/...

It's in French but can be googletranslated easily.

A couple of googletranslated extracts:
... A precise assessment of the accident, the worst recorded in the Corsican mountains for thirty years, was still difficult to establish because of conflicting accounts from survivors and witnesses ...

... This is a mini-storm nearly two hours which caused the day before a mudslide and landslide, carrying many hikers ...

So either if it was melting snow or else the fact is THERE WAS bad weather.

--Michele

P.S.
The regional delegate of the French Federation of mountain climbing, Paul-André Acquaviva, stressed that "a funnel at 2,000 meters above sea level as I Cascittoni technically very difficult is supposed to be traversed early in the morning and not in the afternoon. "



JohnnyTabasco

Posted: Thu, Jun 11, 2015, 13:09

I went through the Cirque 06/06/15 with 3 friends for the first time.
We were extremely careful because of the conditions (melting ice fields - that we avoided - and wet stones).
The accident 3 days later is extremely sad and it makes me even more sad to here that they were warned not to go on this day.
We saw a lot of stupidity up there like people going face first with poles and crossing ice to save a few minutes - or look cool on a photo.
Please be careful up there. Better to look weak and get home safe!
May the poor souls rest in peace and hopefully the rest will turn up alive!



JohnnyTabasco

Posted: Thu, Jun 11, 2015, 13:14

We were in Calvi when it happened. There was a big storm on the mountain that could be seen and heard from the beach. I saw the helicopters from there right after it had blown away.



HARDT

Posted: Thu, Jun 11, 2015, 15:42

Michele, I completely agree with your view points. It is truly reckless, and quite frankly very selfish to go against the warnings of the guardiens. I guess the melting snow, which happens also in good weather, was my poor attempt of understanding why such a terrible accident could happen.

I read in another article in a french newspaper that the number of confirmed dead hikers has reacher four.



Tarjei

Posted: Fri, Jun 12, 2015, 11:00

Very sad news indeed.

The route through the Cirque is now currently closed of course:

http://www.le-gr20.fr/blog/accident-sur-le-gr20-acces-ferme.html



Gaffr

Posted: Sat, Jun 13, 2015, 7:06

I have, not as yet, found any note in or on any of the Media of this accident in GB.
Generally happenings in Europe don't get much coverage here.

--

Gaffr



Gaffr

Posted: Sat, Jun 13, 2015, 8:06

However the PNRC Randoblog gives the latest for walkers with alternatives for stage 4.
Looks as if the stage 4 will be closed for some time?

--

Gaffr



Michelle Kern

Posted: Wed, Jun 17, 2015, 21:10

Hello,

I did the cirque the same day of the accident but left very early in the morning as the storm had been forecast and we were through by 10am. The storm struck around 3 in the afternoon however the clouds had started forming around midday. The storm was very fierce and we decided not to stay in our tent for the duration and retreated to the refuge. It lasted a couple of hours. Huge cascades of water suddenly appeared where there were previously little streams and some walkers had to cross waist deep water in a river that normally is quite shallow. A lady was struck by lightning at Tighjetu refuge as well.

From what I can gather from the scant reporting, it seems the route is still closed but they are about to open another.
There are still a few people missing by the sounds of things but weather continues to hamper search efforts. They also need to check all the chains etc and the geologists need to go in and assess.

Michelle



Michele
moderator

Posted: Wed, Jun 17, 2015, 22:00

Thank you Michelle for your helpful report. So this confirms that the "unlucky" group entered the Cirque right at the beginning of the storm that had been forecast the day before.

I wonder what happened to the lady struck by lightning. Did she survive or maybe got badly hurt?

Thanks

--Michele



Anneskjoeth

Posted: Mon, Jun 22, 2015, 14:51

We were there two days before the accident early in the morning and in good weather. At 1 p.m. the worst thunder storm, I've ever witnessed hit and 50 cm of rain fell within an hour and a half approx. 500 m. lower than the circle. Must be much more further up. Streams appeared everywhere and filled up quickly. The water level weren't normalized 4 hours after the rain had stopped.

The storms appeared 4 days in a row. On the third day it hit around 3 p.m. in the area of the circle, but the landslide came crashing around 11 a.m. and took those unfortunate people with it. A small avalanche started the landslide and released enormous boulders on its way. They were not climbing during the storm.

When we were there it was apparent the snow was melting and big patches looked as though they could fall off at any time. Corsica had 35'C weather for three weeks just before we came. My bet is all that water from the days before helped that process and is the reason for this horrible accident.

--

AnneSkjoeth



Michele
moderator

Posted: Mon, Jun 22, 2015, 15:24

Anne,

Thanks for your precious report. If you witnessed something it would be good if you could report to the Gendarmerie as they were trying to collect as much info about the accident as possible.
If you say "the landslide came crashing around 11 a.m. and took those unfortunate people with it" you may have different information about what was reported at the beginning (they entered the cirque right before the thunderstorm).

Thank you

--Michele



Tarjei

Posted: Wed, Jun 24, 2015, 14:19

Five people has now been confirmed dead after the accident:

http://actu.orange.fr/une/accident-sur-le-gr20-en-corse-le-bilan-passe-a-5-morts-afp-s_CNT000000bpiR2.html.



Gaffr

Posted: Wed, Jun 24, 2015, 19:24

A little bit clearer now but still two persons missing...one from Montpellier and another from Nancy.
Of course the Cirque is the scene of a search still on-going.
What it does give to us is some idea of the amount of material moved by the water/snow when two weeks after the tragedy the search for the two missing folks is still being conducted. Not an easy task for the folks working in the Cirque.

--

Gaffr



HARDT

Posted: Tue, Jun 30, 2015, 9:22

I just came back home yesterday from doin the GR20. I started in Calenzana on tuesday the 16th of June. At the Gite d'etape in CAlenzana the official message was that the Cirque was closed, and that it would remain so until end of June. But, from then on as I talked with different hikers during my walk there were various conflicting information. One person said at a week later that the Cirque was reopened, and another said it would never be opened...

When I got to Haute Asco Thursday (18th) there were a bus (Navette) bypassing the Cirque. The bus costs 35 euros (they certainly know how to make money...). The bus left at 09:00 and at 15:00 every day from Haut Asco. For some reason the bus at 09:00 were only for the people who had prebooked a place in the refuge. I took the one at 15:00, which was a 2 hour bus ride to Calazima, followed by a 2 hour walk to Auberge de Vallone.

There was a alternative route from Haute Asco, going to the ridge close to the summit of Monte Cinto, then turning right passing close by Lac du Cinto and down through a valley to Tighjettu. We got information that day from other hikers who had tried the alternate route, that they had been turned back by police at the ridge. The weather up there apparently was not very good and the authorities did not want "anyone" risking the walk from the ridge into the valley wich was only marked by cairns. Besides the hole alternate route were described as a 10 hour tough technical walk/climb. There are around 1400 height meters both up and down.

The bus ride was interesting, but frankly more scary than any of the climbing I did. Some of the fellow hikers I went along with did not get any food, besides cheese and bread, at the Auberge Vallone since we arived pretty late in the day. Advise is to save som rations for that day.

The count of dead hikers found in the Cirque were climbing as the days past, and the latest I heard through news channels were a 7th hiker was found, but to surprise it was not one they were looking for. And, they were still looking for I believe 2 more...

I have no regrets about not doing the Cirque, not after what happened, and the next day I walked to Refuge Cioutulu and from there after dumping some weight climbed Paglia Orba, which was an absolute amazing experience with great technical challenge along with some awsome views. This climb compensated 100% for the loss of the Cirque. The climbing of Orba, it must be emphasized, should ONLY be made in perfect weather. Walk from Auberge Vallone to Cioutulu 3 hours, walk from Cioutulu to top of Orba and back again to Cioutulu little more than 3 hours.

I was lucky with regards to weather. Only one day with rain and hail showers. The people having started in the south reported several days with rain; read everything soaked, putting up wet tents and nowhere to dry clothes... Weather now appears great, 35 degrees at the coast when I left.



Michele
moderator

Posted: Tue, Jun 30, 2015, 10:33

Thank you so much, Hardt for such a great report. Hope it will be helpful to our readers.



Kevski

Posted: Tue, Jun 30, 2015, 13:32

Thanks for this update. We're planning on a N/S traverse at the beginning of Sept. Is it reasonable to believe the Cirque will be re-opened by then? I guess some walking route will be needed - a permanent bus / by-pass arrangement is not likely. It would be a terrible pity to do the walk and miss out on the most interesting bit.

Apart from the kind folk maintaining this site, what is the best source of "official" information?

Thanks again.

PS Thinking of writing up a trip report?

--

Kevin



Michele
moderator

Posted: Tue, Jun 30, 2015, 13:42

Kevin,

I read on a French paper that the Cirque will stay closed until the end of summer. Should this rumor be confirmed I suppose you'll be free to pass that section. However, do not underestimate the beauty of the variant which offers you the possibility to do the Mt. Cinto summit.

The official site of the park is: http://www.parc-corse.org/ and its related blog: http://randoblogpnrc.blogspot.it/

--Michele



HARDT

Posted: Tue, Jun 30, 2015, 15:29

Kevski

The Cirque may or may not be opened again by the time you get there - it really is difficult to give a positive answer. I got the impression from some french guys, that normal hand and foot holds in the disaster area, including chains and ladders, where simply "erased" (mind you, I am not very good at french so I might have misinterpreted something). Access to the area by rescue people must be severely limited, and thus any progress on repair work very slow. And, I think you can assume that as long as there are people still missing it will not be opened.

I originally planned to climb Monte Cinto in one day, and then continue through the Cirque the next day. I would have loved to see Corsica from its highest point and I believe, as Michele put it, that you should not underestimate the beauty of this variant. I skipped it only because they said people where being turned back at the ridge.

I walked from Refuse Caruzo to Haut Asco, took the bus and walked from Calasima to Auberge Vallone, all in one 6.5 hour day. You can make your decisions when you get there based on strength in your legs and cloud formation near the peak of Cinto. Remember also that walking between 8 and 10 hours in tough terrain is quite a lot, and it increases the risk of being caught out in the afternoon rain or thunder.

I am thinking of writing a trip report at some time, including some of the 700 photos I took, but it might be a while before that is completed. Please, just ask if you have any specific questions. Lot of very helpfull people on this forum.



Gaffr

Posted: Tue, Jun 30, 2015, 16:02

Hello,
I must say that for me, and I have traversed from both ends, that the cirque was not the most interesting section...for me the Manganu through to Petra Piana is the most fabulous...I thought this both times. The cirque was becoming more troublesome on account of the erosion of the many folks passing through. Of course I never imagined the huge movement of rock that came down in early June but there was always the possibility of rocks being dislodged when folks were moving around.
There are so many fine sections on the route that on a lengthy journey it is, for me, interesting to have the odd day amongst the perfumes from the vegetation to accompany the walking. Don't forget the trail from Prati down to Asinau and Bavella, in the so called easier South where there are three very fine days along the crest.
I took the trip to the top of Cintu as a day out from Haut Ascu and found it a very worthwhile excursion. Have not been down to Tighjettu from Cintu but it will make an adequate route.
I too wouldn't expect the Cirque to re-open for some time. On top of everything else that may have altered owing to the rock slide it is still very much an accident site.

--

Gaffr



Tarjei

Posted: Tue, Jun 30, 2015, 20:01

It all adds up to how you define interesting I suppose ;).

I can understand why people are considering the Cirque as the most interesting part of the GR20 due to all the rumours and stories about it. Which now will probably grow even more. I was also very excited to get there, see it and make it.

Though I completely agree with Gaffr that it is not the most fabulous stage of the GR20. Both Ortu di u Piobbu to Carozzu, aforementioned Manganu to Petra Piana (including descent to Melo and Capitellu), E Capanelle to Prati (over Monte Renosu and I Pozzi), Usciolu to Asinau (over Monte Incudine) among other stages was for me much more better.

And as Hardt says, if you are looking for technical sections, the ascent of Paglia Orba by far makes up for missing out on the Cirque. I found that climb to be the most challenging part of my walk.

Tarjei



Kevski

Posted: Wed, Jul 1, 2015, 8:39

Thanks everybody and fair comments.

It would be nice to do the Cirque if for no other reason than the fact that it is an integral section of the original route (or at least the one that has become so popular...I don't know the history). The fact that it is bit more technical than other sections is something we would probably enjoy...being climbers as well as walkers. But we have done lots of stuff that is airy and technical so it wouldn't bother us too much to miss out especially if there is an alternative route to walk. Don't really want to take a bus trip.

One way or another we'll be there at the end of August hoping for 2 weeks of fine but not too hot weather.

--

Kevin



obrobinson

Posted: Thu, Jul 2, 2015, 15:12

Hi,

Just completed GR20 again! Take my word for it the alpine variant to Tighjettu from Asco is far more demanding of your scrambling skills and endurance, but a far better route. Do both in a loop if and when you can. 8 - 10 hrs for the moyenne (average person) - myself completed it in 4 hrs 20 mins, with provisions and tent still for Vizzavona. P.S. Bocca Minuta side very unstable and possibly unlikely to be opened anytime soon.



Michele
moderator

Posted: Thu, Jul 2, 2015, 16:35

Thanks obrobinson for your report.



sussex_hiker

Posted: Wed, Jul 8, 2015, 12:25

Here's an update on the route, translated into English, following this tragic incident:

http://gr20hike.tumblr.com/post/123406506331/tragedy-at-cirque-de-la-sol...



Gaffr

Posted: Wed, Jul 8, 2015, 12:56

Many thanks for the information.

The Randoblog of the PNRC last week printed a copy of the survey made by the French geological survey folks and the conclusion was that the cirque would not be open for some time.
Many large blocks of rock were found to be lying precariously on the areas that walkers would use to descend and to re-ascend from the cirque.
Quite apart from the on-going search for the missing folks there is no way that the cirque will be in use....it is obviously too dangerous for lots of people to around in the area.

The alternative route from Haut Ascu to Cintu and down to Tighettu is a fine route.

--

Gaffr



Olly

Posted: Wed, Jul 8, 2015, 20:30

Hi,
The alternative route may indeed be a fine route, but my experience of the first half, gained climbing Mt Cintu last week is that the extra footfall is making a real mess of the way-marked trail on the loose scree sections.

Olly



Gaffr

Posted: Thu, Jul 9, 2015, 5:24

Hello,
I take it that you mean the section between Lac d'Argentu and circa 2,600m.?
Yes we all in our large numbers do change the mountain surfaces....maybe we should just do this section when snow is on the slope. :-)
I didn't see any of this area, being North facing, this section was covered in snow when I went this way. Big contrast with the South side with just pockets of snow in between the boulders.
I have not been down to Tighjettu from Cintu but there are, are there not, some areas of scree in descent to the refuge? Or maybe there is a choice here either use the scramble sections of rock or the screes?

--

Gaffr



rosbif_rebuffat

Posted: Thu, Jul 9, 2015, 20:54

Thanks sussex hiker for the link. I am all set for this great adventure from 3rd to 20th september, can't wait.

I am a little confused on this detour though, if its an 8-930 hour walk how much in total does this add on to that day? I am aiming to do this in 12-13 stages which means i only have 4 spare days for bad weather/injury



Gaffr

Posted: Fri, Jul 10, 2015, 4:28

Hello Gaston,
The detour is now the stage 4 probably for the rest of the season...an additional 400/500 mtrs. of ascent. Probably a tougher stage physically now.
You have options though depending on how fit you are. Carrying full camping kit?
Stage four will now be Asco over or near to Cintu summit then down to Tighjettu refuge.
You could go a little further and stop at Vallone Auberge or go up to Ciottulu di I Mori refuge which would add a few more hours to your day.
If running out of time you have the option of bailing out at Vizzavona where there is a train station...come back and do the glorious Southern sector another time.
the jairvan is not a racing circuit...it is a very pleasant holiday! :-)

--

Gaffr



rosbif_rebuffat

Posted: Fri, Jul 10, 2015, 12:01

Thanks for the information Gaffr. I am carrying full camping kit so If I do struggle I can just Bivouac somewhere, maybe on Cintu summit if the weather is clement, but I would like to think I am fit enough to make it to a refuge.

I had my eye on this journey since 2006 and am determined to enjoy it, definitely not make a race of it.