The highest mountain of Western Europe and growing menace of rockfall, yet more than 300 people dared to climb the Mont Blanc each day this summer season. Moreover, the temperatures reached all-time highs this year, yet the perilous final ascent received more visitors than ever.
In an effort to reduce deaths and bottlenecks, the mayor of Saint-Gervais-les-Bains, Jean-Marc Peillex decided to take matters into his own hands and impose a daily cap of 214 for mountaineers on Mount Blanc in 2019.
The mayor of the Alpine town, where the most popular route to the top of the mountain begins, said, “It’s a tough decision but a very good one, because Mont Blanc is a climb unlike any other. You have to be prepared.”
Mont Blanc is the highest mountain in the Alps and has been ranked 11th in the world in topographic prominence. Every year, several mountaineers from all over the world take very difficult challenge of climbing the 4,810 m peak.
As reported by Guardian, at least 16 people have died so far this year. However, only one of these occurred on the busy “royal route”.
This summer police began calling for aspiring climbers to have a reservation at one of the shelters on the route, before letting them proceed. Peillex said that in order to enforce new rules, he was considering the creation of a “snow brigade.”
Officials informed that the ascent to summit the peak has caused tensions among climbers, particularly the ones are ill-prepared (wearing trainers, for example) or unfamiliar with mountaineering protocols. Peillex reported a tourist putting up a tent at the very top of the mountain.
There have been reports of undesirable behaviours on the White Mountain, including hostilities among climbers jostling for position on key sections of the route, as well as of the fake guides leading the gullible climbers.
A series of meetings took place over the weekend between local officials, the French mountaineering federation, France’s mountain police brigade and guide associations, following which the new limits were announced.
As the mountaineers wait for the next summer, it will be interesting to know what new changes the new rules will bring. Will the situation improve? Well, we will certainly get to know next year.