Faced with the drought and the unconsciousness of hikers in Mont-Blanc, a radical decision by the mayor

OLIVIER CHASSIGNOLE / AFP An athlete runs in the 42kms Mont Blanc marathon in Chamonix, south-eastern France, on June 26, 2022. (Photo by OLIVIER CHASSIGNOLE / AFP)

OLIVIER CHASSIGNOLE / AFP

Faced with the drought and the unconsciousness of hikers in Mont-Blanc, a radical decision by the mayor

HOLIDAYS – Two refuges allowing the ascent of Mont-Blanc have been closed due to the ” danger of death “ represented by numerous rock falls due to drought, the mayor of Saint-Gervais (Haute-Savoie) announced on Friday.

“Today, we see mountaineers all day long who go to the massif, permanently, as if we were at Disneyland or Parc Astérix”is indignant with AFP Jean-Marc Peillex, mayor of Saint-Gervais, town at the top of Mont-Blanc.

“They don’t care, they don’t care about us, the gendarmes, and that’s why we decided to close the Goûter (120 places) and the Tête rousse (74 places) refuges as well as the camp base which authorizes between 40 and 50 camps »details the mayor, confirming information from the Dauphiné Libéré.

Peillex thus intends “show that there is no more accommodation” on the rise of “Roof of Europe”. “Even though we had advised against the ascent, (Thursday) evening, 79 people were at the (Goûter) refuge”he added.

“We are heading for a disaster”

This decision was taken because of the danger posed by the ascent of Mont-Blanc for several weeks given the drought, the heat wave period and the heavy rockfalls that this causes, according to the mayor of the town of 5,700 inhabitants.

Their growing number is an indicator of climate change. “We are heading for a disaster”alert the city councilor, and “Passing through the Couloir du Goûter represents a real danger of death”, he insists. While the ascent has been discouraged since mid-July, ” many “ alpine people ignore the recommendations and go anyway to the highest peak in Western Europe.

In agreement with the guardians of the refuges, the president of the guides of Saint-Gervais and the prefecture, this measure will be in force until “conditions return to normal”. “But with today’s weather forecast, we know it won’t be before early September”concludes Mayor Saint-Gervolain.

On Wednesday, Jean-Marc Peillex announced his intention to demand a deposit of 15,000 euros from mountaineers who go against the recommendations, based on the average cost of a mountain rescue operation and the prices charged by the undertakers, although he has no way of legally requesting it.

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