The six -- two men and three women, all middle-aged, and a teenage boy -- apparently fell from the mountainside Saturday morning during an attempt to climb Neige Cordier, a peak south of Grenoble, The Guardian reported. They were roped together in two groups of three each and had crampons and ice axes.
"On the face of it there wasn't an avalanche," said Remy Avon, a local magistrate. "They came unattached. At the moment we don't know why."
Xavier Cret, mayor of Villar-d'Arene, where the bodies were flown for examination, said he is a mountain guide and described the climb as not particularly difficult. But he said the mountaineers apparently fell "at the most technical part of the ascent."
Once the climbers slipped, they fell more than 600 feet.