Two mountain climbers trekking through the Alps made quite the unexpected discovery last week when they came across what turned out to be the body of a fellow climber who had gone missing at the site over 30 years ago.
Reuters noted on Wednesday that the body is that of Patrice Hyvert, a 23-year-old climber who was training to be a mountain guide at the École Nationale de Ski et d'Alpinisme, France’s national ski and mountaineering school located in Chamonix. On March 1, 1982, Hyvert set out on a solo climb in the Mont Blanc massif of the Alps. A snowstorm eventually moved in and Hyvert was never seen again until now.
Jean-Marc Boivin, another experienced climber, was making a similar climb at the time and also got caught in the bad weather but was evacuated with the help of a rescue helicopter. Boivin later contacted Hyvert’s father Gerard and alerted him about the conditions he had faced. The climber is believed to have intended to ski back down the mountain and tried descending through another route when the weather turned.
There was no question as to whether the body discovered was Hyvert’s; his identification papers and equipment were still on him. The news reportedly came as a shock to Gerard Hyvert, who described it like a “second death” and says mountains were his son’s passion.
"I'm a mountain man, and I would have preferred him to stay up there," he told a French radio station. "He was better on a mountain than in a coffin. He was in his element."
The mountain will indeed be Hyvert’s final resting place after all. Plans are in place for a memorial service on July 17, followed by the scattering of his ashes on the glacier where he was found.
"My hope was to die before he was found, because he was in his place" Gerard Hyvert also said. "He loved the mountains so much."
Meanwhile, two more Mont Blanc hikers went missing this past Sunday. One is in his 30s and the other in his 40s. As of Tuesday, a helicopter search had not yielded any clues and ran into bad weather but is scheduled to resume when it clears.