Local authorities have issued a warning against climbing Mont Blanc, especially along the most popular route via the Goûter hut. According to them, due to the high temperatures and drought, there is a risk of loosening of large stones and boulders or the opening of fissures that were previously covered by ice and snow. “We see that the conditions are getting worse every day,” one of the operators of the alpine huts around Noé Vérité told AFP.
As early as mid-July, Alpine guides stopped taking tourists to the top of Mont Blanc and do not recommend the ascent to anyone who does not have experience in the mountains. “Mont Blanc sometimes has a reputation for being easy to climb, but it’s not at all, and this year it’s even more true,” said Olivier Grébert, chairman of the Mountain Guides in Chamonix, France.
According to the mayor of the town of Saint-Gervais-les-Bains, which also lies near Mont Blanc, the authorities and the police have seen dozens of people climbing without adequate equipment and experience, despite warnings. Due to the lack of judgment of these “death candidates”, the town hall proposes to collect a bail of fifteen thousand euros, i.e. about 370 thousand crowns, which corresponds to the expenses for the intervention of the mountain service and the removal of the body, the mayor wrote. “It is unacceptable that French taxpayers should finance these expenses,” said Peillex.
The situation is also bad in other parts of the Alps. “A dozen peaks are currently under warning,” said Pierre Mathey, secretary general of the Swiss Mountain Guides. This applies to the Matterhorn on the Italian border or the popular Jungfrau. “The glaciers are now in the state they are usually in at the end of summer or later,” said Andreas Linsbauer, an expert from the University of Zurich.
A number of restrictions have also been issued by the Italian authorities, who are monitoring the mountains more strictly after the fall of a piece of glacier near Marmolada, where eleven people died. Here, too, the Alpine guides have suspended their services in a number of places. They point to their difficult situation after two years of the pandemic, when significantly fewer vacationers came to the Alps.
“There are a lot of other things to do here, but usually people who want to see Mont Blanc just want to see Mont Blanc,” said Ezio Marlier, chairman of the mountain guides in Italy’s Valle d’Aosta region. But his Swiss colleague Mathey believes that it will be possible to find new and safe routes. “However, the mountains decide, not the person,” he told AFP.