Five Climbers Die, One Still Missing on France’s Mont Blanc

Five climbers died and another was missing on the slopes of Mont Blanc, French police said Wednesday. The bodies were found at 9 a.m. local time (3 a.m. ET) by a search party that was launched after the six climbers, including a guide, did not return home the previous night. They had been attempting an ascent of the Aiguille d'Argentiere, a 12,800-foot peak in the Mont Blanc range that reaches 15,800 feet at its highest point and spans the borders of France, Italy and Switzerland. The victims were all French, officials said.

Several people have died this year on Mont Blanc, which is Europe's highest mountain and the 11th highest in the world. Local officials have recently expressed concerns about an alleged lack of preparedness during some expeditions. Last month, the mayor of the nearby town of Saint-Gervais, Jean-Marc Peillex, hit out at the "reckless" attempt by U.S. mountaineer Patrick Sweeney, whose bid to scale the peak with his nine-year-old son and 11-year-old daughter proved nearly fatal after they were caught in an avalanche and had to be rescued.

- Alexander Smith, Ian Wood and Christina Boyle