5 climbers killed in fall on Mont Blanc peak

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5 climbers killed in fall on Mont Blanc peak
FILE - This Feb. 19, 2003 file photo shows Mont Blanc, western Europe's highest mountain. The body of a French climber who disappeared into a snowstorm more than 32 years ago has been discovered on the slopes of Mont Blanc. Patrice Hyvert was a 23-year-old aspiring guide when he went for a solo ascent on March 1, 1982. Climbers found Hyvert’s body July 3, his identification papers intact. (AP Photo/Patrick Gardin, File)
File - In this Wednesday, Oct. 12, 2011 file photo, an alpinist walks down a ridge on the Aiguille du Midi (3,842 meters; 12 605 feet), towards the Vallee Blanche on the Mont Blanc massif, in the Alps, near Chamonix, France. A mayor in the French Alps says five climbers have died on Mont Blanc and a sixth is missing. The climbers disappeared overnight as they were trying to reach the Aiguille d'Argentiere, which tops out around 3,900 meters (12,800 feet). Mont Blanc, in addition to its primary peak, contains some 200 summits. The bodies of five climbers were located Wednesday, Aug. 13, 2014, while a sixth has not been found, said Jean-Marc Peillex, mayor of Saint-Gervais, a town at the foot of Europe's tallest mountain. (AP Photo/David Azia, File)
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By LORI HINNANT

PARIS (AP) - Five French climbers died in a fall on France's Mont Blanc, officials said Wednesday, after a night of snow and wind on Western Europe's tallest mountain. A sixth climber was spotted at the bottom of a crevasse.

August is the height of the climbing season on Mont Blanc, where even in the warmest months storms can strike quickly. High winds buffeted the area where the group fell, said Jean-Baptiste Estachy, head of the Mont Blanc rescue squad.

Estachy said five bodies were found Wednesday morning. The sixth climber, who was missing, was apparently spotted at the foot of a crevasse and recovery efforts were underway.

"We don't know what the condition is other than that the person is unconscious," Estachy said.

The climbers were taking part in a two-week mountaineering course with the guide and were reported missing overnight when they failed to return to a refuge. They had been on a planned trip to the Aiguille d'Argentiere, which tops out around 3,900 meters (12,800 feet).

Mont Blanc, in addition to its primary peak, contains some 200 summits. It touches France, Switzerland and Italy, and thousands try to climb its peaks each year. An average of 59 people are killed each year in accidents on its slopes, according to the Chamoniarde, an association that provides safety information for the area.


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