Death Trap Haute Route – Reconstruction of a tragedy

  /    /  Death Trap Haute Route – Reconstruction of a tragedy

Seven people, frozen to death from exhaustion in snow and ice, only 550 meters from the hut that would have saved them. What happened? The ski touring drama on the Haute Route of April 29, 2018, leaves many questions unanswered. The film is a meticulous reconstruction of the drama and seeks answers.

The drama under the Pigne d’Arolla, on the legendary Haute Route, the ski tour between Chamonix and Zermatt, is the biggest accident of its kind in the Swiss Alps.

Based on the survivors’ testimonies, documents and photos, re-enacted scenes, as well as GPS data and excerpts from the investigation report of the public prosecutor’s office in Sion, the film reconstructs the dramatic events of this tour and tries to find answers.

For the first time, the three survivors, rescuers, as well as Steve House, the famous US alpinist, and two couples from France, who were all on the same route on the same day, talk about the drama.

Reenactements recount in detail what happened on the tour. The evening before the accident in the Cabane des Dix, the morning of the departure, the decision not to turn back, the onset of the storm that arrives earlier than predicted, the aimless wandering around at an altitude of more than 3000 meters, the hopelessness when it is clear there will be no way out, and the tragic night that ends fatally for seven of them.

The film also shows that despite the supposed safety of modern tools and equipment, helicopter rescue and the proximity to civilization, nature is stronger than man. It casts light on what is happening in our Alps, where mountain tourism is very much on the increase.

Diretcor Frank Senn

rank Senn, born in 1963, is an award winning documentary film producer working for the documentary department of Swiss National Television. He is specialized in outdoor and climbing films all over the world. He is also head of the Documentary Series department of Swiss national television.

In 1995, he completed “Death on the Dhaulagiri”, his first documentary film about a fatal mountain-climbing expedition in the Himalayas. This first work was followed by the films “Snowboard Fever”, “Tibet in the Tösstal”, “Countdown on the Lauberhorn”, “Eiger North Face—on the Tracks of the First Climbers” and “Please Come, Rega 10”. Frank Senn co-produced the Swiss television special presentation “Eiger—Live” in 1999. This program followed four mountaineers live on their seventeen-hour ascent to the Eiger summit and received many awards.
In 2002, Frank Senn and Thomas Ulrich made the documentary “Eiger North Face—on the Tracks of the First Climbers”, which was co-produced by Swiss Television SF and ARTE. The film has already been broadcasted numerous of times in Europe and won several awards at Festivals like Banff or Graz.

In 2003 Frank Senn was co-producer of the docusoap “Everest”. In 2004 he produced with ZDF the film “48 hours Matterhorn”, in 2005 he completed two films about a high altitude expedition on the Muztagh Ata “ Research in thin air. It has been co-produced with Arte . In 2006 and 2007 he produced a docu serie about the mountain rescuer and helicopterpilots of “Air Zermatt” in the mountains around Zermatt. In 2008 he produced together with Hari Thapa , producer from Nepal , after five years of preparation, the film “Sherpas- The true heroes of Mount Everest”. The film is a co-production with arte. It has won awards at festivals all over the world (KIMFF,Tegernsee,Val’d’Isère, Aosta) Between 2010 and 2012 he finished the three part documentary “Helicopter Rescuer in the Himalayas” which was a co-production with Servus TV and has been broadcasted numerous of times in Europe. His next project was a Docufiction on the Matterhorn, which has been broadcasted all over Europe in 2015. It was a Co-Production with ZDF/Spiegel TV/arte/ORF.

In 2016 and 2017 he covered in two films the tragedy of the earthquake in Nepal with the titles “ In the shadows of Everest”. In 2018 he followed in a three part series a group of alpinists on the Haute Route. Title of the three part series was “Adventure alps” and in 2019, with the same idea, he produced a three part series with sleddogs in Lappland under the title “Adventure Lappland”. His latest work is the 90 minutes documentary with reenactement “Death trap Haute Route- reconstruction of a tragedy”


Frank Senn






90 min


Sunday, S3A, 15:20-16:50