By Shelley Marsden
Two climbers from Ireland have died after falling as they attempted to scale Mont Blanc, which is Western Europe’s highest mountain
Colm Ennis and Peter Britton from Clonmel, Co Tipperary, aged 37 and 55, plummeted hundreds of feet while climbing in the Dent du Geant (‘Giant’s Tooth’) area of the mountain range in eastern France.
A spokesman for the PGHM High Mountain Police said they “slipped” and “broke lose” on Sunday from their ascent ropes.
One of the victim’s passports was later found by rescuers, while the second climber was identified after their families were traced.
Explorer and mountaineer Pat Falvey told RTE that climbing Mont Blanc and the routes around it is spectacular, but climbers all too often underestimate its difficulty.
Just a week ago two Finnish climbers, aged 25 and 40, were killed in the same range after slipping and falling into a crevasse near Aiguille de Blaitiere.
Each year, some 20,000 people try to reach the summit of Mont Blanc. To date, over 1,400 people have died in the attempt.
Jean-Marc Peillex, mayor of the Saint-Gervais municipality which includes Mont Blanc, has criticised the hundreds of people who risk trying to climb the mountain in the summer months.
He said he was particularly incensed at the case of an American self-confessed ‘adrenaline junkie’ who tried to scale the peak with his two young children before getting caught in an avalanche. Thankfully, they all escaped the ordeal unharmed.