A British bloke who tried to scale one of the world’s most notoriously deadly mountains with no specialist equipment was close to death before being rescued by Italy's Aosta Valley Mountain Rescue.
Feda Hussein from Southsea in Portsmouth, was reportedly wearing a tracksuit when he was found in freezing temperatures 10,170 feet up Mont Blanc’s Bionnassay glacier.
Rescuers who found the 26-year old aerospace graduate on Sunday (October 2) morning said he was suffering from fatigue and possible hypothermia.
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Hussein first called for help on Saturday, October 1, telling mountain rescuers that he was unable to continue with his attempt on the mountain because it was too cold.
He also reportedly had difficulty telling rescuers exactly where he was.
“I wanted to climb Mt Blanc,” he told Italian newspaper Corriere Della Sera, adding that the attempt was a 26th birthday present to himself.
“I left on Friday from Val Veny to complete the ascent of the Italian normal route to Mont Blanc which passes through the Gonella refuge.'
But as he continued up the glacier, a snowstorm left him freezing and disoriented.
“I lost my way to the Gonella,” he said. “I was not very far, but in that situation it was impossible to reach it. I had to stop and tried to take cover.”
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It wasn’t until early on Sunday that Hussein was found.
“His body temperature when he was found was 25ºC and the normal is 37ºC,” a mountain rescue specialist told the Daily Mail. “He was about five minutes from dying and was lucky to have been found.
“He was suffering from severe hypothermia and flown immediately to hospital where the doctors started working on getting his body temperature back to normal”
The rescuer added that Hussein “wasn't dressed at all correctly for such an expedition” and that climbers are generally warned off the mountain at this time of year because the weather can be so treacherous.
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Mont Blanc has the highest fatality rate of any mountain in Europe. Some estimates put the annual number of deaths at around a hundred.
Called Mont Blanc in France and in Italy Monte Bianco, the fearsome peak is known by experienced climbers as the Death Mountain.
Travel writer Lane Wallace says that the reason the mountain is so deadly is that many guides suggest it’ easy to climb – leading a lot of novice mountaineers into biting off more than they can chew.
She says that “many guiding companies describe Mont Blanc as more of a ‘long walk’ than any kind of challenging climb”.
"You have no business on this mountain unless you have at least six alpine peaks under your belt," he said. That's why we have so many people killed here."
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One experienced climber told The Atlantic: "You have no business on this mountain unless you have at least six alpine peaks under your belt, that's why we have so many people killed here."
While the mountain is still extremely dangerous for novices, it used to be even deadlier. The New York Times reported that between the years 1890 and 1901 the Swiss Alpine Club recorded 303 deaths – more in just 11 years than all the recorded deaths on Everest put together.
But even today, Mont Blanc can be a killer. Italian media have reminded climbers that wearing the proper gear was important. The first rule for those who are preparing to tackle an excursion in the high mountains is to equip themselves with the appropriate equipment: not only suitable shoes, but also clothes suitable for the weather conditions that will be encountered.
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