A member of a climbing party that was attempting to scale a mountain in eastern Crete under difficult conditions was killed, though his three companions were rescued after an operation lasting more than nine hours, police said yesterday. The unnamed 42-year-old fell to his death during an ascent of Afendis Christos in Lasithi, officers said. His group set off from the Limnakaros plateau on Saturday but made a call for help the same afternoon. Local police, the fire brigade and the EMAK rescue team were alerted and launched an operation to save the climbers. Rescuers reached the three stranded men at around 4 a.m. yesterday and helped them to safety. The body of the fourth climber was collected and taken to a local coroner who was to conduct an autopsy to establish the exact cause of death.