A Climber Who Found $168,700 Worth of Precious Jewels on Europe's Mont Blanc Will Get to Keep Half

It's believed the gems were aboard an Air India Boeing 707, which crashed on the mountain in 1966.

When you go climbing it's expected you'll see some impressive things—babbling brooks, animals in their natural habitat, and scenic overlooks among them. But can you imagine stumbling upon $168,700 worth of jewels while you're out getting a little fresh air? That's the reality for a climber who found a trove of precious stones on Europe's Mont Blanc, the highest mountain in the Alps. CNN reports the climber found the emeralds and sapphires while climbing in France in 2013, but it was recently announced in a Facebook post from Chamonix-Mont-Blanc council that he's now been allowed to keep half of the stones.

The climber, who asked to remain anonymous, found the jewels inside a metal box on a glacier overlooking the southeastern French village of Chamonix. According to the council, the gems were being transported on an Air India Boeing 707, which crashed on Mont Blanc and killed 117 people. The crash has been the subject of conspiracy theories that suggest the flight was shot down by a fighter jet or missile. On board the flight was the father of India's nuclear industry, Homi Bhabha. Another Air India plane smashed into a nearby spot 16 year prior to the one experts believe was carrying the precious jewels. Debris from both wrecks is routinely recovered from the bottom of the glacier. Discoveries have included metal, wire, and a piece of landing gear.


Following the climber's discovery, a search for the gems' heir was conducted but it turned out to be fruitless. As a result, the haul was divided equally between the climber and the local council last week, with each party collecting $84,350. The council will put its half of the stones on display at the Chamonix Crystal Museum, which has been under renovation but is scheduled to reopen on December 19.

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