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Caught in a snowstorm, a Calcutta-to-Paris flight crashes in the Swiss Alps. When the aircraft is spotted by an observation plane atop Bald Mountain, the airline organizes a rescue party to search for survivors. The townspeople of the local village advise Rivial, an airline official, to seek the counsel of Zachary Teller, a retired mountain guide who now tends sheep and takes care of his troubled younger brother Chris. Zachary warns Solange, the head of the rescue expedition, that the sheer south side of the mountain is the only possible way to the top of Bald Mountain in winter, though it is a much longer climb than the northern route. Zachary is then asked to lead the rescue party, but declines, as his last expedition up the mountain ended in an English tourist's death. The next day, Zachary's close friend Servoz is killed trying to guide the expedition up the north face. Learning that the airline has abandoned the rescue mission, Chris asks Zachary to lead him up the mountain in order to recover the money, gold and other valuables of the dead passengers. When his older brother refuses, Chris threatens to attempt the dangerous trek alone, so Zachary relents. The next morning, the two brothers begin their assent of Bald Mountain. They soon reach a sheer section of the mountain, the same location where the English tourist was killed. Despite Zachary's trepidation, the two successfully scale the difficult section, but the inexperienced and exhausted Chris later falls while attempting to climb a cliff. Securely held by his rope, Chris is pulled to safety by Zachary. The younger Teller then insists that they quit the climb, but Zachay assures him that the worst is over, as they should reach the mountain's peak by noon. Though Chris still dreams of the riches that await them, Zachary now proudly sees the climb as an accomplishment, for no one has ever successfully ascended Bald Mountain in winter. Reaching the crash site, however, Zachary's pride quickly turns to shame, as Chris gleefully strips the dead of their valuables. Inside the wrecked plane, the brothers find a young Hindu girl, the sole survivor of the crash. While Chris shows little interest in the girl, other than her diamond nose ring, Zachary nurses her throughout the night. Chris insists that they leave the girl behind, so that no one will know the origins of their newfound riches, but Zachary builds a sled in which to take the young Hindu down the mountain. Insane with greed, Chris attempts to strangle the girl, only to be fought off by his older brother. The next morning, Zachary and the Hindu girl head down the mountain, with Chris, weighed down by his ill-gotten booty, struggling behind them. Despite his brother's warnings, Chris attempts to cross an insecure snow bridge and plummets thousands of feet to his death. At his village, a bereaved Zachary claims that it was his idea to rob the plane, stating that he forced Chris to go along with him and that Chris really saved the Hindu girl. Though no one believes him, Zachary insists that Solange write down his version in his report to the airline. As Zachary heads home with Marie, a widow who has proposed to him on numerous occasions, Solange tears up his report. Father Belacchi, the village priest, tells the old mountaineer that he had never heard him lie before and insists that Zachary attend the upcoming Sunday Mass in order to be forgiven for that sin.