France’s highest peak Mont Blanc shrinks

Mont Blanc, the highest mountain in Western Europe has lost a full 1.3 metres of its height according to the latest measurement. But it had nothing to do with this summer's heatwave apparently.

France's highest peak Mont Blanc shrinks
Mont Blanc has shrunk by 1.4 metres. Photo: Richard West / Flickr

The height of the mountain that stands in the Alps on the border with Italy often varies in height due to the changing weather conditions at the summit.

In 2013, the last time the mountain was measured, the roof of western Europe stood at 4810.02 metres.

But on Wednesday and expedition of surveyors calculated that the new height of the peak came in 4808.73.

The mountain’s height has varied ever since scientists began measuring in 2001. In 2007 it reached a height of 4811 metres but has dropped and risen over time.

Despite the hot summer the reduction in height is not down to any scorching sun in the French Alps as the temperatures at the summit are almost always below negative.

It is more down to the changing strengths of winds and snow fall.

If there is a light wind and heavy precipitation then snow will settle on the peak and increase the ice cap that coves the rocky peak, which actually stands at 4,792 metres.

SEE ALSO: Stop stealing Mont Blanc Italy tells France



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Mountaineer dies on Europe’s Mont Blanc despite rescue attempts

A French mountaineer died close to the summit of Mont Blanc on Friday after rescuers made several attempts to get to him in a violent storm.

Mountaineer dies on Europe's Mont Blanc despite rescue attempts
A picture taken from a helicopter on August 7th, 2020 shows the Planpincieux glacier of the Grandes Jorasses, on the Italian side of the Mont Blanc massif, with the Courmayeur village in the background, Val Ferret, northwestern Italy.  Andrea BERNARDI / AFP

The man, in his forties, was climbing Europe’s highest peak when he lost his way and got stuck at 4,800 metres (15,700 feet), assailed by “the storm, the wind, the cold,” rescuer André-Vianney Espinasse told AFP.

He called for help on Thursday evening.

Several helicopters attempted to rescue him but couldn’t get to him due to the weather, Espinasse said.

As a result, one helicopter dropped rescuers off lower down, at 3,200 metres, forcing them to climb the rest of the way at night.

At two in the morning, after reaching a refuge and waiting for the weather to ease, they climbed further into heavy winds.

They found the man some two hours later, suffering from severe hypothermia.

But “at 5.30, in awful winds, the mountaineer suffered a cardiac arrest,” said Espinasse.

A fresh attempt by a helicopter to lift the victim off the mountain failed once again due to the high winds.

The rescuers then decided to leave the body and get out of “this extremely dangerous area”.

A rescue helicopter from neighbouring Italy eventually managed to lift the body off the mountain.

“Going solo on high mountains should really be avoided due to all the dangers involved,” Espinasse said.

Mont Blanc is between the regions of Aosta Valley in Italy and Savoie and Haute-Savoie in France