This is not a ski-specific story, but does involve a family on a snowy mountainside almost killed by an avalanche. The disturbing part is that the father was fully informed when he took his children on this climb – reportedly the family had wanted to set the world record for the youngest climbers to reach the dangerous peak, nicknamed “the White Killer.”
Last week, Paul Sweeney was climbing a section of Mont Blanc in the French Alps that’s nicknamed “the corridor of death” with his two children when a sudden avalanche started to pull both 11-year-old Shannon and 9-year-old P.J. down the mountain.
Both children were tethered to their father, an experienced climber who was the last line of defense against falling down the mountain. He was able to stop the family from falling and other climbers in the area came to the children’s rescue.
Outdoor enthusiasts regularly take risks for the thrill of a particular activity, and as adults we are entitled to that freedom. But when parents make the decision to risk their children for the thrill of “setting a record,” there is simply no justification. Much like the parents who set sail around the world with a three year old and one year old – until a medical emergency required abandoning their ship – Sweeney displays a reality-show mentality. He described the harrowing experience as feeling like an antelope being ripped by a lion from the waist-down, and he was the only safety factor saving his children from being swept away. But in news reports, he expressed no remorse or even circumspection over the choice to place his children in such danger.