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Monday January 29, 2018 - Email this article to a friend

Tributes have been paid to two skiers who fell to their deaths in a steep couloir. Futher details of the accident have been revealed. UPDATED

The two were skiing off piste in the Grands Montets area when they separately fell to their deaths. 

They have been named as friends Oscar Cassagneau-Francis - an experienced skier who had trained as a junior doctor - and Rajen Mahendra who worked in advertising and marketing.

Both 26, they grew up in the same street in Cambridge.

They fell several hundred metres while skiing in the steep Couloir du Chapeau in the Grand Montets area last Sunday morning.

"They were skiing off-piste. They followed a ski track and went down into the Couloir du Chapeau," M Rondot, a mountain rescue expert and guide who works for the Le Peloton de Gendarmerie de Haute Montagne (PGHM), told the BBC.

"One person fell down and lost a ski - he tried to ski on one ski, but then he fell again."His brother tried to go to see [him], then the third man went down and he fell as well.

"The first skier's brother was not hurt and raised the alarm," he added.

Rescuers arrived within 10 minutes but both skiers who fell were pronounced dead at the scene.

M Rondot was in the helicopter that recovered the body of the first skier to fall.

PlanetSKI had details of the accident at the time, but we waited to report until next-of-kin had been informed and information placed in the public domain by official sources.

ChamonixGrand Montets, Chamonix














Mr Cassagneau-Francis' older brother Oliver Phillipe was with the two.

He saw one of them fall and contacted the piste patrol.

It's reported that he didn't see the second fall. He was uninjured.

Friends of Mr Cassaneau-Francis told the Cambridge News that he was lovely guy, who loved his friends.

"Oscar was a fun-loving, adventurous, kind-hearted and caring person who touched the hearts of everyone he knew," the newspaper quoted them saying.

"He will be sorely missed but greatly remembered by all those that know and love him.

"The world is a darker place without his cheeky smile and zest for life."

Oscar Cassagneau-FrancisOscar Cassagneau-Francis













The police have opened an investigation into the accident and are due to talk to Oliver Philippe who is a keen skier who regularly posts photos and videos of skiing on social media.

Raj Mahedra was a keen sportsman who played touch, a game similar to rugby league.

The Cambridge Touch Association posted this message on its Facebook page:

It is with deepest regret and very great sadness that I must announce the death of our fwariend and fellow touch player Rajen Mahendra.

Raj was involved in a fatal skiing accident on Sunday.

Raj started playing touch in Cambridge with his school friends whilst he was at the Perse. He excelled at the sport and went on to represent Cambridge in the National Touch Series and the Midlands region at the Touch Nationals.

Raj was a great athlete and tremendous sportsperson, but he was also friendly, helpful, kind and always smiling; he will be sorely missed by all his friends at the Cambridge Touch Association and in the wider touch community.

Our thoughts go to his family at this dreadful time.

Cambridge Touch AssociationRajen Mahendra with the Cambridge Touch Association - photo Facebook



The Couloir du Chapeau is 40 degrees in places and the skiers were not with a mountain guide or qualified professional.  

The two who died fell independently of each other, but just minutes apart.  

They were on holiday with the UK tour operator, Inghams.

They were pronounced dead at the scene and their bodies have been recovered by helicopter.

The conditions at the time were said to be hard packed and icy.  

After the fresh snow of last week the temperature has risen and made conditions off piste very difficult.

"The deceased were skiing off-piste but the route is very well-known and is popular with skiers," said a spokesman for the High Mountain Police.

He described conditions as "very unfavourable" and said the "snow was very compacted and very icy".

The Foreign Office is providing support to the families of the men.

Investigation underwayInvestigation underway

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