A Briton has miraculously cheated death after surviving a night at over 3,000 meters above sea level on Mont Blanc with nothing but a tarpaulin and tracksuit to protect him from a violent snowstorm.
The unnamed 26-year-old man from Portsmouth was found by Aosta Valley mountain rescue on Sunday morning on the Bionnassay glacier after calling for help the previous evening.
He got lost in stormy conditions and struggled at an altitude of 3,100 meters (10,170ft) on the Italian side of the mountain range, but rescuers couldn’t locate him on Saturday night due to the conditions difficult.
When a rescue team spotted him from a helicopter and drove to his location the next day, they were in utter disbelief to discover that the man, wearing only hiking boots, a tracksuit and draped in a sheet , was still alive.
Despite a body temperature of just 25 degrees Celsius – 10 degrees below the hypothermia threshold and three degrees below the “death zone” of 28 – the man clung to life and was transported to the Parini hospital in Aosta.
By Sunday afternoon, the intrepid hiker’s body temperature had soared to 33 degrees and he regained consciousness, telling doctors about his incredible ordeal.
A worker from the Aosta Valley Mountain Rescue tends to the man who was unconscious and near death with a body temperature of 25 degrees C
The woefully underprepared climber is seen lying unconscious in the lower left of this image of the Bionnassay Glacier
Rescuers were blown away when they discovered the man had attempted the huge climb without the proper mountaineering clothing, let alone ice picks, crampons and other climbing kit essentials (pictured shows a mountaineer on the Bionnassay glacier with full equipment)
“I wanted to climb Mont Blanc,” said the mountaineer quoted by the Italian daily Corriere Della Sera.
“I left Val Veny on Friday to complete the ascent of the Italian normal route to Mont Blanc which passes through the Gonella refuge.”
After spending Friday night in a tent on the nearby Miage glacier, the man continued on Saturday but got lost when the wind brought on a snowstorm.
“I lost my way to La Gonella… I wasn’t very far, but in this situation it was impossible to reach it. I had to stop and tried to take cover.
The man called a rescue team for help late on Saturday evening, but conditions were so poor they could not locate him.
Valle d’Aosta mountain rescue technicians remained in intermittent contact with the lost climber, but said their last communication was at 2:30 a.m., in which he was described as “exhausted but conscious”, according to Rai News in Italy.
The crew was forced to wait several more hours before a rescue could be launched.
Rescuers were blown away when they discovered the man had attempted the huge climb without wearing proper mountaineering clothing, let alone ice picks, crampons and other climbing gear essentials .
They suspected it was a desperate migrant who had chosen to take a mountain route to circumvent border controls and were amazed to find it was actually a terribly ill British hiker prepare.
Doctors told Corriere the man had a ‘strong character’ but his near-fatal feats in the absence of proper equipment are by no means an anomaly.
In August, a furious mayor on the French side of the Alpine range introduced a policy requiring ‘pseudo-mountaineers’ to pay a £13,000 deposit to cover their funeral and rescue costs before being allowed to climb.
A French mayor introduced a policy in August that inexperienced climbers are forced to pay a deposit of almost £13,000 to cover rescue and funeral costs if they want to climb.
The mayor of Courmayeur, located at the foot of Mont Blanc on the Italian side of the border, called the decision “surreal” and said the Italian side “will not limit hikers’ ascent”.
Jean-Marc Peillex, the mayor of Saint-Gervais-les-Bains, from where climbers can reach the summit along the Route du Goûter, introduced the measure after dozens continued to defy warnings.
The considerable deposit is split into two parts – €10,000 covers the cost of a mountain rescue and €5,000 covers funeral costs.
The route is accessible to everyone, regardless of skill level, and officials said the number of inexperienced climbers is increasing.
In a statement posted on Twitter, Peillex said the idea for the drop came after five Romanian visitors attempted the climb “wearing shorts, trainers and straw hats” and had to be turned away by police from Mountain.
“Sometimes dumb people only react to dumb ideas,” the mayor told the Telegraph.
“They have the same approach as someone who wants to commit suicide. So I say, let’s make it right and ask them to pay us the costs that it will incur.
“People want to climb with death in their backpacks,” he added.
“So let’s anticipate the cost of their rescue and burial, because it’s unacceptable for French taxpayers to foot the bill.”
However, the mayor of Courmayeur, which sits at the foot of Mont Blanc on the Italian side of the border, called the decision “surreal” and said the Italian side “will not limit hikers’ ascent”.
“The mountain is not property,” said Roberto Rota.
“As administrators, we limit ourselves to indicating when the paths are not in the best condition, but asking for a deposit to climb to the top is really surreal. You can decide to close a path or passage if there is a real risk,” the mayor told Corriere.