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An avalanche has swept over a group of European climbers in the French Alps, killing nine people on the slopes of a peak known as Cursed Mountain.

Although four climbers were first reported missing, police later said they were alive and accounted for, with two of them having cancelled their climb and two having taken a route different to the deadly one.

The nine people known to have died in the avalanche on Mont Maudit (Cursed Mountain in French) early on Thursday were three Britons, three Germans, two Spaniards and a Swiss, said local police Colonel Bertrand Francois.

Nine more climbers were lightly injured and treated at a local hospital.

Among the dead was a British mountain guide, the French PGHM mountain rescue group said, and a French guide was among the injured.

British Foreign Secretary William Hague said he was "very saddened" by the tragedy and was sending "deepest condolences to the friends and families of those affected".

One of the injured sounded the alert about 3.25am GMT (1.25pm AEST) after the avalanche on Mont Maudit, the massif's third-highest peak.

It rises to 4465 metres and is considered one of the more difficult paths to the summit of Mont Blanc that at 4810 metres is western Europe's highest peak.

The avalanche was thought to have been triggered when a climber caused a sheet of snow and ice to break off the mountainside.

Officials said the victims had been in a group of more than 20 people, including guides, who had left a base at 3600 metres about 1.30am local time for the climb.

Originally the police thought that four more climbers were missing after the disaster, based on the guest list of a mountain refuge from which the alpinists had started out on their ascent.

But late on Thursday, Emmanuel Vegas, a lieutenant with Chamonix police, said the two Britons thought missing had taken a route different to the one hit by the slide and the two Spaniards thought missing had resold their spots in the refuge to two of the climbers who were killed.

About 50 rescuers, including those from Italy, had been involved in searching the area of the Mont Blanc massif at the height of more than 4000 metres, where snow drifts in some cases were up to six metres thick.

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Hard core climbers or just people who want to add to their bucket list not sure if I would ever have the desire to do what they do.


Condolences to the families.


I bet the spaniards are buying lottery tickets today.





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Usually by end of June or very early July. Occasionally there can be snow on the mountain until late July, thats not unheard of, but the difference is the last three years in a row it has been well into July before it all melts. Because it has been slow to melt of recent years they have been sending teams of people up there to break up the snow to get it to melt quicker.

Today I can still see some patches of snow left.

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Was up Fuji-san at the weekend. (Saturday night, the weather was shocking!) There were still very large patches of snow up there, down as low as the 8th station, or possibly even lower.

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