Mountaineer dies on Mont Blanc despite rescue attempts

Rescuers found the man suffering from severe hypothermia, but he died after a heart attack. PHOTO: REUTERS

GRENOBLE, FRANCE (AFP) - A French mountaineer died close to the summit of Mont Blanc on Friday (July 30) after rescuers made several attempts to get to him in a violent storm.

The man, in his forties, was climbing Europe's highest peak when he lost his way and got stuck at 4,800 metres, assailed by "the storm, the wind, the cold," rescuer Andre-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 wind, the mountaineer suffered 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.

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