Sad news from France today where we’ve learned that an avalanche on Mont Blanc, perhaps the most well known and iconic European peak, has left nine climbers dead and four missing. It is believed that a climber accidentally started the snow and ice slide while attempting to scale the mountain.
The 4810 meters (15,781 ft) mountain is a popular one with outdoor athletes across Europe. Not only is it a fantastic climb, but it also offers great skiing, mountain biking, hiking and more. Those activities have made Mont Blanc a top destination all year round and thousands attempt to climb it on any given year.
Today’s accident resulted in the death of three climbers from the U.K., three from Germany, two from Spain and one from Switzerland. They were caught up in the avalanche high on the mountain when a large sheet of snow broke off from the peak and slammed down the mountain. A number of climbers were able to react quickly enough to get out of the way, but others weren’t so lucky. Two climbers were pulled out of the snow by rescue squads, but the SAR operations were hampered by the possibility of further avalanches in the area.
Conditions on the mountain have been particularly unstable thanks to an unusual amount of spring snows and early summer storms as well. Heavy snows and high winds have reportedly creating some massive, yet unsteady, overhangs that hang above some of the more popular summit routes and authorities have been warning climbers about these conditions for some time.
The search for the four missing climbers was called off due to darkness and poor snow conditions. The rescue teams hope to resume the search tomorrow. They believe that there is a chance that the remaining climbers are alive, but they must proceed with caution.
Condolences to the friends and family of those whose lives were lost in this tragic accident.
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