British Man Tries to Climb Mont Blanc in Tracksuit, Nearly Freezes to Death

A 26-year-old British man almost died on France’s Mont Blanc this weekend after starting his ascent in terrible conditions and with virtually no gear.

Feda Hussein attempted to climb the mountain with nothing but a tracksuit, hiking poles, and a tarp. The weather was less than ideal.

As a result, this aerospace engineer’s solo expedition quickly unraveled, according to Italian news reports. He called for help from the Bionnassay Glacier Saturday evening after he got lost in a snowstorm. Rescuers failed to find Hussein in the storm and told him to find shelter. Then they lost contact.

Italy’s Aosta Valley Mountain Rescue found Hussein the next morning 3,100m up the mountain. To their shock, Hussein was still alive. But with a body temperature of 25˚C (3˚ lower than the “death zone” of 28˚), he was five minutes from death, they said.

The team had spotted the hiker from a helicopter. He was wearing nothing but hiking boots and a tracksuit, draped in a sheet.

Rescuers transported Hussein, still clinging to life, to the nearest hospital. Here, medical workers immediately began restoring his body temperature.

Mountain rescue officials said Hussein had dressed “as if out for a Sunday stroll,” The Daily Mail reported. Hussein told police he wanted to climb the mountain as a “birthday present to himself”.

He turned 26 on Oct. 1 — the day he set off to climb 4,870m Mont Blanc.

“He has a strong temper,” his Italian doctors told the local Corriere Torino. Hussein also told The Daily Mail he believes he was “well-prepared”.

mont blanc

Mont Blanc is well-trafficked but still strenuous. Photo: Shutterstock


‘Pseudo-alpinists’ increasing on Mont Blanc

Mont Blanc has found itself in the news several times this year, though not for alpine accomplishments.

The summer started when local guides briefly stopped working on the mountain because of heavy rockfall — a growing problem among mountains warming with climate change.

Then Jean-Marc Peillex, the mayor of Saint-Gervais-les-Bains, a village at the foot of Mont Blanc, announced plans to charge climbers a deposit of €15,000 to reach the peak via the popular Goûter route. The reason? To cover rescue and funeral costs of the climbing mishaps that increase every year.

Then the mayor got really angry.

“I give up,” exclaimed the exasperated Peillex in August. Neither warnings, videos, nor financial threats were enough to prevent poorly equipped “pseudo-alpinists”, as he testily called them, from climbing Mont Blanc. Ultimately, local authorities decided to close Tête Rousse and Goûter, the busiest refuges in the French Alps, until further notice.

With this week’s story of another hiker going up the mountain unprepared, it’s likely that climbing Mont Blanc will continue to become more complicated for everyone.

Andrew McLemore

An award-winning journalist and photographer, Andrew McLemore brings more than 14 years of experience to his position as Associate News Editor for Lola Digital Media. Andrew is also a musician, climber and traveler who currently lives in Medellin, Colombia. When he’s not writing, playing gigs or exploring the outdoors, he’s hanging out with his dog Campana.