The Alpine gendarmerie seized the 10m pole and national flag that the Latvians were carrying up the mountain to celebrate the centenary of the Baltic state gaining independence.
Jean-Marc Peillex, mayor of the village of Saint Gervais, had asked the police to block the expedition, calling it “an undertaking by reckless people”.
Participants of the expedition said on Facebook that they did not intend to give up and still hoped for a diplomatic solution that would let them achieve their goal. “We, participants of Mont Blanc 2018, are proud of what we have achieved, and the events on the recent days only show that our goal is something out of the ordinary. We hope to find support on the international level so that we can go ahead with this unique project,” the climbers said on Facebook.
It is understood that the group was allowed to continue on their route with the flag without the mast.
The incident has happened at a time when Chamonix council is trying to stem accidents that happen to often ill-prepared climbers on the 4,810m peak.