French climber Luce Douady has died at age 16 after falling from a cliff on Sunday, the French Federation of Mountaineering and Climbing has said. Douady was a rising star in international competition climbing and was the reigning world champion in bouldering for her age group.
The 16-year-old was with friends when she fell from a cliff about 15 miles from her hometown, St. Bernard, in the Isère region of southeastern France, according to the statement. Douady was not climbing at the time of the fall but was walking between two climbing areas in the Chartreuse Massif of the Alps. She was on a trail with a handrail when she slipped and fell almost 500 feet, according to the FFME.
“This terrible news has had a huge impact on her training partners, her coaches and her club, Chambéry Escalade,” said the FFME. “But today, the whole federation is in mourning. Luce Douady left us yesterday,” reads the statement. “She went as she lived, living life to the fullest.”
A standout competitor on the European youth climbing circuit, Douady vaulted into the international spotlight last June by finishing fifth at the International Federation of Sport Climbing Boulder World Cup in Vail, Colorado. It was her debut in World Cup competition, against the best adult climbers in the world.
Two months later, at the IFSC Youth World Championships in Arco, Italy, she won her age group in bouldering and finished third in lead climbing. At the European open championship in October, she placed third in lead climbing.
She was a favorite to make France’s team for the 2024 Olympics, to be held in Paris. Sport climbing — comprising the disciplines of lead climbing, speed and bouldering — will make its Olympic debut at the Tokyo Games, delayed until next year because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Douady’s death occurred 60 miles from the site of a 2013 accident that claimed another climbing prodigy. Tito Traversa, 12, died near Orpierre, France, when improperly assembled equipment failed and he fell 50 feet.