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MONT BLANC

Another death on Mont Blanc amid attempts to crack down on under-equipped climbers

The death of a Ukrainian climber on Mont Blanc marks another fatal accident in a series that have recently occurred on western Europe's highest peak.

Another death on Mont Blanc amid attempts to crack down on under-equipped climbers
A Ukrainian climber was found dead on Mont Blanc on Saturday, a day after setting off to scale western Europe's highest peak, rescuers said.
 
The 42-year-old became trapped in an overnight storm on the 4,810-metre (15,780-foot) mountain.
   
The climber had alerted mountain rescuers that he was in trouble, but they could not come to his aid because of the poor conditions.
 
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File photo AFP
 
“He had lost track of where he was, so he sent a signal around 10:00 pm (2000 GMT),” said the mountain unit of the gendarmerie in nearby Chamonix.
 
“But it was impossible to launch a rescue operation because the mountain was in the middle of major storm,” the gendarmerie added, citing poor visibility.
   
The weather had improved enough by Saturday morning to allow a rescue helicopter to search for the man, whose body was found at an altitude of 4,000 metres.
   
There have been a series of fatal accidents on the mountain in the past month, with climbers from France, the Czech Republic and South Korea also killed while trying to scale its heights. The search for a missing Japanese climber was called off last Sunday.

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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