• France's news in English

Climber finds treasure chest on Mont Blanc

Ben McPartland · 26 Sep 2013, 13:07

Published: 26 Sep 2013 13:07 GMT+02:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

A French climber was left stunned when he stumbled across a metal box on a Mont Blanc glacier that was filled with emeralds, rubies and sapphires worth hundreds of thousands of euros, it was reported on Thursday.

The mountaineer, who wants to remain anonymous, discovered the box of treasures when climbing the famous Bossons Glacier, near Chamonix.

According to reports in local newspaper Le Dauphiné Liberé the climber saw the box lying in the ice and when he opened it found several little bags marked with the words “Made in India”.

To his astonishment inside the bags were gems, saphires, rubies and emeralds that had an estimated value of up to €246,000 ($332,000).

The climber since handed the treasure over to police.

SEE ALSO: Ten spectacular reasons to climb Mont Blanc

French authorities have paid tribute to the young man.

“He is an honest man who quickly realised this belonged to someone else,” the head of the gendarmerie in Albertville. “He could have kept it to himself but opted to hand it over to the police.

The buried booty is believed to be linked to two mysterious plane crashes involving in an Indian airliners in the middle of the last century. 

On November 3, 1950 the Malabar Princess, an Air India plane, crashed on Mont Blanc  killing 58 people on board. And 16 years later, on 24 January 1966, a Boeing 707 Air India plane en route from Mumbai to New York, came down at the same location. All 117 passengers on board were killed.

French authorities say they will contact their Indian counterparts to try to trace the owner of the treasure. Under French law, the jewellery could be handed over to the mountaineer if these are not identified.

Although the climber's find maybe the most precious so far, mountaineers on Mont Blanc have routinely come across debris, baggage and human remains from the crashes over the years.

In August last year a diplomatic post bag was discovered in the same area on the mountain

The bag stamped "Diplomatic mail" and "Ministry of External Affairs", was found by mountain rescue workers. The Indian embassy in Paris said it was looking forward to receiving the "very late mail". 

Earlier this year The Local France reported on another apparently freak find hundreds of miles away in Paris, when a homeless man discovered an arsenal of "weapons of war" in a waste bin.

He too decided to turn them over to police rather than keep them for himself.

Story continues below…

And perhaps the biggest shock discovery came in May when a French couple returned from their holiday to Ecuador, to find 20 kg of cocaine in a suitcase.

They too decided against keeping the drugs and handed them over to local police.  

What would you do if you found a chest of jewels buried in a glacier?

Don't miss a story about France - join us on Facebook and Twitter.

Ben McPartland (ben.mcpartland@thelocal.com)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
How life for expats in France has changed over the years
A market in Eymet, southwestern France. Photo: AFP

Foreigners in France explain how life has changed over the years.

London calling for Calais youths, but only a chosen few
Photo: AFP

Dozens of Calais minors are still hanging their hopes on help from the UK, but not all will be so lucky.

17 different ways to talk about sex in French
Photo: Helga Weber/Flickr

Fancy a quick run with the one-legged man?

Yikes! This is what a rat-infested French jail looks like
Photo: YouTube/France Bleu TV.

This video is not for sufferers of ratophobia (or musophobia as the condition is officially called).

France to allow Baby Jesus in Town Halls this Christmas
Photo: AFP

Mary, Joseph, and baby Jesus are safe to go on display again this year, it seems.

National Front posts locations of migrants in French town
The National Front courts controversy. Photo: AFP

"Local tax payers have a right to know," says local far-right party chief.

Paris thieves use tear gas to steal €500,000 of watches
Photo: AFP

The thieves pretended to be couriers then threatened staff with tear gas to get the watches.

Bataclan survivor recounts attack in chilling drawings
Photo: BFMTV screengrab

One survivor has recounted the horrific night through illustrations.

Anger among French police grows as Hollande vows talks
French police demonstrate on the Champs Elysées. Photo: AFP

A fourth night of protests shows government efforts to ease anger among French police have been fruitless.

UK border must move back, says 'next French president'
Photo: AFP

If favourite Alain Juppé is elected, Britain and France are in for some difficult negotiations.

Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
Why Toulouse is THE place to be in France right now
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Video: New homage to Paris shows the 'real side' of city
The 'most dangerous' animals you can find in France
Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
Swap London fogs for Paris frogs: France woos the Brits
Anger after presenter kisses woman's breasts on live TV
Is France finally set for a cold winter this year?
IN PICS: The story of the 'ghost Metro stations' of Paris
How to make France's 'most-loved' dish: Magret de Canard
Welcome to the flipside: 'I'm not living the dream in France'
Do the French really still eat frogs' legs?
French 'delicacies' foreigners really find hard to stomach
French are the 'world's most pessimistic' about the future
Why the French should not be gloomy about the future
This is the most useful French lesson you will ever have. How to get angry
Why is there a giant clitoris in a field in southern France?
French pastry wars: Pain au chocolat versus chocolatine
Countdown: The ten dishes the French love the most
Expats or immigrants in France: Is there a difference?
How the French reinvented dozens of English words
The ups and downs of being both French and English
How Brexit vote has changed life for expats in France
Twelve French insults we'd love to have in English
What's on in France: Ten of the best events in October
jobs available