Six Climbers Killed In Fall On Mont Blanc

Aiguille d'Argentiere

Aiguille d'Argentière, as seen from the nearby Aiguille du Chardonnet. Photo: alpiniste/Flickr;

8/13/14 - A group of climbers was found dead today after being reported missing Tuesday en route on the Aiguille d'Argentière in the Mont Blanc massif. The team was on an outing with the Union Nationale des Centres Sportifs de Plein Air (UCPA), a French nonprofit that makes outdoor trips available to people age 7 to 39. This group contained four men and one woman, between the ages of 27 and 45, and was led by a fully licensed guide. The investigation is still underway, but it's thought that the team summited the mountain, and then fell 820 feet while roped together during the descent.

The climb took place during the latter half of a two-week mountaineering course. They were last seen leaving a mountain hut and reported missing by the hut's caretaker when they failed to return during their expected 2 to 4 p.m. window. They had reportedly ignored bad weather warnings and set out at 4 a.m. for an attempt of the peak's 12,800-foot summit. Two helicopter searches went out last night, but storms forced the rescue effort to hold off until this morning. The bodies of the five climbers were found first, while the guide's was later found in a crevasse.

It's been a grisly summer in the Mont Blanc region, with this incident bringing the death toll up to 12 since mid-July alone. This is the biggest single accident on Mont Blanc since 2012, when an avalanche claimed the lives of nine climbers. Fatalities are common in the range, with an average annual death toll of about 100, according to Wikipedia, simply due to the range's accessibility and the sheer number of climbers that attempt its peaks every year.

Sources: AP,