Alpinist loses fingers and toes, but receives no insurance money

Alpinist loses fingers and toes, but receives no insurance money
Alpinist loses fingers and toes, but receives no insurance money
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The man, then 38 years old, climbed the Matterhorn in the Swiss Alps with a friend on October 9, 2021. During the descent, the duo spent the night in the Solvay hut at an altitude of 4,000 meters. When they woke up the next morning, the weather had completely changed. It was snowing and blowing fiercely. The two soon showed severe frostbite symptoms on their hands and feet.

When the weather improved, they were flown to hospital by helicopter. One of them had to have surgery there. All the toes on his right foot and four fingers on his hand were in such bad condition that they had to be amputated. His friend escaped with frostbite wounds and recovered.

READ ALSO. Skiers who froze to death didn’t stand a chance: “They may no longer know which was left or right”

The man who was in the worst condition, an experienced mountain athlete, contacted his insurance company. But he refused to pay. “Because frostbite is not an accident,” he said.

(Read more below the photo)

The two mountain climbers were rescued by a helicopter after the storm.

The two mountain climbers were rescued by a helicopter after the storm. — © Swiss Mountain Rescue Service

The alpinist was not satisfied with that decision and went to court in Vaud. But the insurance company’s lawyer produced the contract which clearly states that frostbite is not considered an accident and that accident insurance therefore does not cover injuries resulting from frostbite.

READ ALSO. Avalanche takes several people away in Swiss Alps: at least three dead and one injured

The man then went to the Federal Court in Switzerland. But there too he was rejected, even though he claimed that the weather had suddenly changed and that therefore they could not have foreseen what had happened. “Suddenly it started to thunder and the temperature dropped sharply,” he said.

Swiss weather service

But the insurance company had done its homework thoroughly and had even requested the weather reports for that day on the Matterhorn from the Swiss weather service. And it turned out that there had been no thunderstorms at all that had caused a sudden drop in temperature.

Moreover, the judge stated in his judgment, as an alpinist you must be prepared for sudden changes in the weather. Because you can always expect that in the mountains.

The mountaineer will not receive any compensation and will also have to pay legal costs, approximately 800 euros.

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