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MONT BLANC

Concerns grow over Japanese climber missing on Mont Blanc

Worries mounted Thursday for a 35-year-old Japanese climber who sent an SOS message after getting trapped in bad weather on the Mont Blanc mountain in France.

Concerns grow over Japanese climber missing on Mont Blanc
Ashley Coates/Flickr

The man posted a message on social media on Wednesday saying he was coming down from the 4,810-metre (15,780-feet) summit of western Europe's highest peak but needed help.

Thursday was his fourth night on Mont Blanc alone, Le Parisien reported.

Rescue helicopters are unable to fly because of poor visibility and rain with conditions only expected to improve on Saturday.

Patrice Ribes, head of the local police rescue service, said the climber “could survive several days” providing he had found shelter and had enough water.

“As soon as we can, we'll go looking for him,” he added.

Police have posted a Facebook appeal to help them in their search (see below). 

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This isn't the first time Mont Blanc has made the headlines this summer, with two Germans found dead on Wednesday after dying of hypothermia.

Earlier in August, The Local reported on the death of a South Korean mountain climber on the peak. 

And in late July, The Local reported on human remains thought to belong to passengers killed in one or other of two Air India plane crashes more than 50 years ago discovered on Mont Blanc. 

WEATHER

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

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