Five French climbers were found dead on Wednesday on Mont Blanc, Europe’s highest mountain, with a sixth member of the group still missing, local authorities said.

The six climbers, including one guide, had been reported missing since Tuesday evening after they failed to return to their shelter when bad weather hit the mountain.

Rescuer workers were scrambling to find the sixth person but further bad weather, including rain and hail, were hampering their efforts.

Four men and one woman, aged between 30 and 40, had set out with their guide for an expedition organised by France’s national association for outdoor sports. The group had set out to climb the “Aiguille d’Argentiere” peak on the Mont Blanc massif, which stands at 3,902 metres (12,802 feet). According to local media, the guide was among the dead. There have been several deaths this climbing season on the mountain, sparking fears among professional guides that Mont Blanc is fast becoming a tourist “free-for-all”. Two Belgians were found dead on August 2 and six climbers died between July 15 and 30 - two Irish, two Finns, a German and a French person.

A US climber sparked outrage earlier this month when he tried to climb the mountain with his nine-year-old son and 11-year-old daughter and got caught in an avalanche.

The family escaped uninjured, but video footage of the incident in a spot known as the “Corridor of Death” caused an outcry when it was broadcast in the United States last month.

The worst single death toll from an accident on Mont Blanc in recent times came in July 2012, when nine climbers - Swiss, German, British and Spanish - were killed in an avalanche.