Jean-Marc Peillex has enough. “I resign,” writes the mayor of the French municipality of Saint-Gervais, announcing that from today the refuges Tête Rousse (3167 meters) and Goûter (3835 meters) on the normal route on the 4,809-meter-high Mont Blanc will remain closed until further notice. “How sad that we are forced by some lawless daredevils to have to make a decision that really shouldn’t be.”
Repeatedly, the authorities had previously appealed to refrain from climbing Mont Blanc because of the current immense risk of falling rocks as a result of the summer heat. The region’s mountain guides are currently no longer taking clients up the highest mountain in the Alps. Nevertheless, according to Peillex, yesterday evening “79 climbers, mostly from Eastern European countries, played Russian roulette” and entered the Goûter hut.
Previously, the mayor had already threatened to demand a deposit of 15,000 euros per climber in the future “to cover the rescue and burial costs of the crazy and incorrigible.” However, this is proving to be legally difficult.
Rockfall also on Matterhorn
On the 4,478-meter-high Matterhorn on the border between Switzerland and Italy, too, authorities and mountain guides warn of extreme rockfall danger and urgently advise against climbing attempts. But even there, mountaineers repeatedly disregard the advice. On Tuesday evening, 13 climbers had to be rescued from an altitude of 3,715 meters on the Italian normal route after a landslide had occurred. Eleven people were killed in a glacier collapse on the Marmolata in the Italian Dolomites in early July. Permafrost is also in retreat in the Alps. This leads to more rockfall and the danger of ice masses breaking away. Climate change sends its regards.
Update 18 August: The two huts on Mont Blanc will be open again from this Saturday (20 August). Reason: The extreme heat period is over. Snowfall is expected at altitude.