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Dad condemned for Mont Blanc bid

Father and two children, aged nine and 11, narrowly escaped death during “reckless” world record attempt

THE MAYOR of a town near Mont Blanc has lodged a formal complaint against a father who filmed his children as they were caught in a mini-avalanche during an attempt to climb Mont Blanc.

Patrick Sweeney captured the moment his nine-year-old son and 11-year-old daughter narrowly escaped death as they tried to climb western Europe’s highest peak in June, while trying to set a new record for the youngest climber to reach the peak.

The footage shows both children tethered to their father, who quickly anchored himself into the mountain so they wouldn’t be swept away.

On his return to his native America, Mr Sweeney gave the film to broadcaster ABC. It caused an outcry in both the US and France when it was aired earlier this month.

Mr Sweeney told Good Morning America: “I heard PJ scream first and then Shannon scream and all I could think was. ‘I have to bury my ice ax and I have to create a good anchor’.”

Meanwhile, son PJ said that he felt “pretty scared” when the avalanche struck, but wanted to make another attempt on the mountain - but his sister wants to wait a year.

Had they reached the summit, Mr Sweeney’s son would have become the youngest person to climb Mont Blanc.

The record is held by Asher Silver from London, who climbed the 4,810m mountain aged 10 in 2009.

But Jean-Marc Peillex, Mayor of St-Gervais-les-Bains – where mountaineers begin their ascent of Mont Blanc – yesterday lodged a complaint with police against Sweeney for “endangering the life of others”.

“If they were in France, Mr Sweeney would deserve to have his children taken away,” he told Le Figaro.

“Such acts deserve to be punished, not to be aired on TV at prime time.”

He described the world record attempt as "reckless".

Although Mr Peillex does not believe the action against Mr Sweeney will succeed, he hopes it will discourage other “adrenaline junkies”.

He said an increasing number of “amateurs” are putting the lives at risk by attempting to climb the dangerous mountain.

“Mont Blanc is not an amusement park,” he said.

Four mountaineers have died on the Mont Blanc in recent days. Two Irish climbers fell to their deaths on Sunday, while two Finns died two days earlier.

Image: ABC screengrab

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