A world champion French ski mountaineer has fallen to her death on Mont Blanc amid warnings that an unprecedented heatwave is making hiking routes unstable.
Adèle Milloz, a 26-year-old ski mountaineer champion and her female hiking companion, 30, fell to their deaths while climbing the Aiguille du Peigne route. Their bodies were discovered by fellow hikers early on Friday evening.
Milloz was in training to become a mountain guide when the incident occurred. The deaths have so far been ruled an accident and police are investigating the circumstances of the fall.
"The high mountains have become more dangerous with the drought, but access was not subject to any particular prohibition," a spokesperson for the High Mountain Gendarmerie Platoon (PGHM) told AFP.
Climbers were warned last month to postpone their trips as the drought was causing more frequent and dangerous rockfalls atop Europe’s highest peak. Several guided tour companies suspended their hikes, and two mountain shelters were closed.
The deaths come as France continues to fight extreme weather events brought on by record-breaking droughts and heatwaves. According to the national meteorological service Météo France, last month was the driest July on record, and several new heat records were set last month as the mercury rose as high as 42C in parts of the country.
The extreme heat has also advanced the grape harvest by as much as three weeks in several parts of France including Languedoc-Roussillon, Corsica and the Pyrénées-Orientales.
Winemakers say the early harvest, heat stress, and burned, dried out grapes could hugely undermine the 2022 vintage.
Meanwhile, firefighters have been battling multiple forest fires that had been raging across the country, including in the regions of Jura, Averyon, Finistère and Gironde.
Within one week, wildfires in Gironde razed 7,400 hectares, making it the second big loss of forest cover in the area. Last month two separate fires broke out in the same department, burning through 20,800 hectares.