A British hiker traveling through the French Alps stumbled upon a gruesome sight on Sunday — the bodies of six climbers who died in one of the worst mountain tragedies in France in recent years.
The corpses were found at a very steep section of the Neige Cordier summit at roughly 8,850 feet. They were soon transported by helicopter to the nearby town of Villar d’Aren, village mayor Xavier Cret told the AFP.
“The victims were climbing roped together in two groups. It looks like there was a slide of snow and stones mixed together,” he said, adding that it appeared that they had died on Saturday.
The apparently experienced mountaineers, climbing in two groups in what were described as “ideal conditions,” are believed to have become unattached from the mountain and fallen into a steep pass 656 feet below to their deaths.
While it was initially believed that an avalanche was to blame for the deadly fall, further investigation suggests that it was due to human error.
“On the face of it there wasn’t an avalanche. They came unattached [from the mountain]. At the moment we don’t know why,” local magistrate Rémy Avon said.
The dead included two men and three women between the ages of 42 and 64 as well as a 16-year-old boy.