Three climbers were killed and four others injured in a fall Sunday while scaling the southern ridge of Mount Amida in Nagano Prefecture, Japan, the police said. The incident came to light after another climber contacted the police around 8:35 am, reports the Japan Times.
The seven belonged to the same group from Kansai, according to the authorities. At the time of the accident, they were linked together by a safety rope and making their way toward the peak of the 9,203ft mountain.
Staff at Suwa Central Hospital, which treated the climbers, quoted some of the survivors as saying that the climber walking at the head of the group slipped on the path, causing the rest to fall as well.
According to police, the seven are believed to have fallen about 330ft from a point 8,530ft above sea level. The police also suspect the three dead climbers might have been hit by an avalanche triggered by their fall.
A local mountain guide said the route taken was one used by experienced climbers. As it had been snowing a few days ago, the area remained blanketed, making the use of winter gear necessary, the guide said.
“The route is too difficult to climb along without a specialized guide or veteran climber. It’s too tough for beginners,” he added.
Haruhiko Maruyama, a lecturer from a local association that aims to prevent mountain accidents, said it was dangerous to tie together all seven climbers for such a steep route:
“If you tie all the climbers together, they could all fall at once,” he said, adding that usually only two or three climbers should be tied together on a route like this.
Maruyama also pointed out the accident took place around 8:30 a.m., saying the path may have been very slippery because the snow that fell the night prior could have frozen overnight.