Five cross country skiers found dead amidst treacherous weather conditions, one remains missing

compass bubbles: mountaineers high in the Alps
The group had set off from Zermatt, Switzerland on Saturday to tour a section of the famous Haute Route (Image credit: Getty)

The bodies of five cross country skiers who went missing in the Alps over the weekend have been found, while officials say one party remains missing.

The group of six, which reportedly contained five members of one family, set off on Saturday from the Swiss ski resort Zermatt, which sits at the foot of the Matterhorn. It is believed they were attempting to tour to Arolla, Italy on a two-day section of the famous Haute Route, a roughly 75-mile path between Zermatt and Chamonix. However, they disappeared around Tete Blanche mountain, which straddles Switzerland and Italy, prompting a massive response from mountain rescue.

The section of path the group was touring mostly lies below 9,000 feet and isn't believed to be particularly avalanche prone, but according to reporting in the BBC, severe weather has plagued the region in recent days, bringing heavy snowfall and high winds, and is thought to be to blame for the tragedy. The conditions hampered initial rescue efforts, and the bodies were not discovered until Sunday.

The identities of the deceased have not yet been made public, however Reuters reports that the skiers ranged in age from 21 to 58 and five came from the Valais Canton, while one is from Fribourg.

Ski mountaineering, Mt. Elbert, Colorado, USA

Officials say that severe weather that has plagued the region in recent days, bringing heavy snowfall and high winds, may be to blame (Image credit: Will McKay / Aurora Photos)

Backcountry skiing safety

Before setting off in the backcountry, you need to have some training in backcountry safety. This means possessing navigation skills such as carrying a compass and knowing how to read a map, and carrying a backcountry first aid kit. You'll also need an avalanche beacon, shovel and probe and a satellite communicator to request help if you need it. Learn more in our article on backcountry skiing.

Julia Clarke

Julia Clarke is a staff writer for and the author of the book Restorative Yoga for Beginners. She loves to explore mountains on foot, bike, skis and belay and then recover on the the yoga mat. Julia graduated with a degree in journalism in 2004 and spent eight years working as a radio presenter in Kansas City, Vermont, Boston and New York City before discovering the joys of the Rocky Mountains. She then detoured west to Colorado and enjoyed 11 years teaching yoga in Vail before returning to her hometown of Glasgow, Scotland in 2020 to focus on family and writing.