2 more deaths on Mont Blanc; friends sought help

Associated Press

ROME (AP) — Two more climbers have died on Mont Blanc following the deaths of nine people last week in a massive avalanche, rescue crews in Italy and France said Sunday.

An Italian Alpine rescue team military official said the bodies of a Polish woman and Spanish man were found 4,400 meters (14,436 feet) up on the Dome du Gouter peak on the Italian-French border Saturday night after spending more than 24 hours in a snow hole.

Rescue services said the man and woman had been climbing with two Spaniards when they were caught in bad weather Friday night. The Spaniards managed to reach the Gouter mountain refuge earlier Saturday and alerted authorities who sent help.

Jean-Baptiste Estachy, commander of the mountain rescue service in Chamonix, France, said on BFM television that while the climbers were on the French side, the Italians were dispatched because they had a helicopter better suited to the weather conditions.

The Italian official said the Spanish survivors were taken to a hospital in nearby Val d'Aosta for tests, but weren't seriously injured. The official — who works for the Italian financial police in Entreves, Italy — declined to be identified because he is not authorized to speak to the media.

A massive avalanche on one of Mont Blanc's most popular routes, Mont Maudit, killed nine climbers and injured 14 others on Thursday.

Mont Blanc is western Europe's highest peak at 15,782 feet (4,810 meters).