Two Americans Die on Matterhorn

Posted on: August 11, 2008

The east (left) and north faces of the Matterhorn (4478m), Valais Alps, Switzerland. The bodies of two climbing partners from Colorado were recovered at 13,100' on the east face last Friday, August 8, 2008; stormy conditions, and resulting poor visibility, likely were factors in the incident. [Photo] Menno Boermans

Two climbers from Colorado—Vince Bousselaire, 53, of Golden and a 57-year-old woman from Boulder whose name has not been released—died last week on the Matterhorn in Switzerland's Valais Alps.

Descending in a storm alongside three other climbers, poor visibility caused Bousselaire and partner to lose contact with the other team. How they fell remains unclear; the Associated Press reported that Bousselaire fell ca. 300 meters and his partner, whose rope caught on a rock, fell ca. 80 meters.


Rescue operation leader Bruno Jelk noted that, in dry conditions, the terrain where the incident occurred is not considered treacherous, "but anywhere can be dangerous when the weather turns and it snows and there's fog."

The two bodies were recovered at 13,100' on the Matterhorn's east face by Air Zermatt on Friday evening, August 8, after numerous search campaigns throughout the day. Family members had reported the climbers missing that morning or the night before, according to AP reports.

Bousselaire was an experienced mountain traveler, having hiked Colorado's fifty-four 14,000' peaks. He is survived by two daughters, two grandchildren, his mother and eight siblings.

Alpinist will update this report as more information becomes available.

Sources: Menno Boermans,,, Associated Press,

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Vince was my father-in-law. The family is still coping with the loss on what was basically a European vacation that he went on. Essentially they got caught in a storm while still at high altitude and were forced to descend onto the face of the mountain from the ridge to avoid intense electricity from what the survivors relayed to the family. After traversing the East face towards the north face to get back to the Hornli Ridge the ice broke loose under his feet and he was unable to self-arrest. There were only three climbers in their rope team though, and Carolyn had the rope tied to her. Vince was last in the northerly procession Carolyn was first and northernmost. The middle climber was 10 feet from either of them, and was able to see roughly 200 feet at the time from his indications. As they had traversed a reasonable distance the rope arced down behind Carolyn across the ice field. Vince unavoidably careened straight through it in his tragic slide, pulling Carolyn loose also. Situationaly speaking, it was impossible for the rope to be coiled up due to the steep slope and inclement weather. All your prayers for the family are appreciated though! We too are praying for Carolyn's family as they cope with their loss...

2008-08-29 01:13:49

The woman climber who died in this accident was Carolyn Randall of Fort Collins, Colorado. She was an experienced mountaineer with extensive climbing experience in Colorado and had also climbed in Alaska, the Pacific Northwest, and other countries. More information can be found at the Fort Collins Coloradoan at the link

2008-08-11 23:51:24
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