A Cambridge father is defending his decision to take his two children climbing on Western Europe’s highest mountain, after the group survived an avalanche.

Patrick Sweeney, his 11-year-old daughter Shannon and his 9-year-old son Patrick, were a few thousand feet from reaching the summit two weeks ago in an area locals call the “Corridor of Death”, when the family heard a hissing noise.

“My daughter said, ‘Dad it sounds like snakes,’ and I said, ‘Shannon it’s a lot worse than snakes,'” Sweeney told WBZ-TV.

His children slid 50 yards down, but were stopped by the safety rope they were tied to, which was attached to him. Sweeney says that’s when they put three months of training to work. They used ice axes to get up from piles of snow, and descended back down the mountain to safety.

The story is attracting critics online, but Sweeney thinks otherwise.

“It’s a heck of a lot better than having them sit at home wasting time playing Minecraft, video games, or watching TV,” he said. “If they can learn this lesson of courage while they’re young, then I’ve done an awesome job as a father.”

Do you agree with Sweeney? Or should parents not be putting their children in dangerous situations like this? Share your comments below, and watch for them on WBZ News in the Morning from 4:30 to 7:00 a.m.


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