The BBC - https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-51487851 - is reporting French President Emmanuel Macron has pledged to create a new protected nature reserve around Mont Blanc by the end of the year. There will be rules about the number of people who can visit the mountain, especially in the summer.
Ive just been reading about it - hmm - dont know
I spent many happy summers, and winters, wandering and climbing in and around that area - after a break of a few years I revisited the area and was totally shocked at the shrunken state of the mer de glace
there is undoubtedly a huge increase in tourism around the area, as there is all over the world, more people are putting a huge strain on the huts there, but that has always been the case - although has this been exacerbated by the ban on camping (I know I used to camp high in the summer when there)
Perhaps the recent problems have been instances of unprepared people venturing high - although who is to say who is prepared or not - and will making it a nature reserve stop this? Or will it lead to an even more attitude that a guide is required when there - I hope not
In short, I just don't know if its a good idea or a bad idea
I'm not offering it as an idea, more a talking point, but it strikes me that banning guides would be the best way to limit numbers on the mountain? How many more people attempt to summit every year because they have a guide to take the navigation and safety issues out of the equation (not entirely obviously, but more or less)?
yet to read the bbc article but there's been plans for a national park or nature reserve for Mt Blanc for decades and they have always been oppossed by the local council.
If you want to reduce visitor numbers ban alpine skiing in ten years. An increasingly short season, backed up by snow making, horrendous traffic jams, adding to the pollution in the less affluent valleys (ever been to Sallanches in winter?) and then all the detritus of ski lifts and bulldozed roads left idle for 8 months of the year.
see how many Mont Blanc mayors will boost their “green credentials” and vote for that?
It is a massive industry though.
What will replace it?
OK, but people need jobs. Pull all sheep off the hills. Take all infrastructure down.
Then the land has little value and it gets used for other things like hydro power.
If they are really serious about limiting numbers, both to accessing Mont Blanc & the Chamonix valley, there's a simple solution.
Close all mechanized uplift in the valley so everybody has to walk up there, sure that will eliminate a lot of the traffic instantly.
Obviously this isn't going to happen but for the average person & guides, the attraction of the area soon disappears.
The Muppet with the rowing machine was probably the icing on the cake of justification for this.
It's pretty pointless, but cheap green points for the Government. Implement a policy that effects a few thousand tourists, whilst ignoring the polluting action of millions in your own cities.
The lifts aren't left idle all year. A lot of the lifts around Chamonix run through the summer as well. For example, the Prarion, Bellevue, Aiguille de Midi, PlanPraz, Brevant, Flegere, the Index, Le Tour, Charmiliion and Vallorcine all run in the summer. They are all incredibly popular, and are a jumping off point for people wanting to climb and enjoy the mountains (including the downhill mountain bikers!)
It's actually quite interesting that the demise of the top lift and Grand Montets has led to a large increase in the number of folks out on touring gear, as it is the only way to access the Argentiere glacier side.
Finally, the main cause of pollution in the valley is not traffic (although the traffic jams can be quite bad at peak times). It's wood burning stoves. IIRC it was about 80 / 20 wood burners vs traffic. While I am not a great fan of the Mairie, they have been subsidising folk to replace older wood-burners with more modern ones which have a vastly reduced particulate output.
The OFB sounds like another palliative, jobs for the boys and girls. Or perhaps I'm being too cynical.
They seem to do it manage it well in the National Parks in the USA..........controlled access etc etc.
But I cannot imagine it would work too many conflicting interests.
There is alot of pressure on these areas, reminds me of the tourist issues in Venice.
Oh very much so. It's under the control of hunters (to whom Macron has openly pandered and actively supports, more so than any other president in recent memory). But that's pretty much all this government is about: posturing. Can't think of any serious commitments/measures other than importing two bears into the Pyrenees (which it was forced to do anyway under EU legislation) and dropping the project for a new airport near Nantes.
In January the very same government also approved a new motorway just downvalley from Chamonix, between Macilly and Thonon-les-Bains, to "open up" the Chablais. Because that's exactly what we need right now, more roads and fewer arable or wild lands. Plus the Haute-Savoie could do with a few more lorries.
I think the gap between words and actions has never so been big, for the most part our previous governments openly didn't care about the environment, but we've now entered a new phase where it's all about pretending while doing nothing, which I reckon is even more dangerous as it gives people the false impression that things are being done. Watching Macron strutting about in international fora and talking about preserving our planet is sickening.
The OFB is a reorganisation of several existing bodies into one which in theory is a good idea & will help coordination between often rival groups, but of course the reality may be different...
Needs to be remembered that Mt Blanc summit is in the commune of St Gervais & its their mayor whos been quoted while Chamonix is a different commune, with a different mayor with a long history of disputes between them. Also that the Italian side has been a protected area for many years.
> Finally, the main cause of pollution in the valley is not traffic (although the traffic jams can be quite bad at peak times). It's wood burning stoves. IIRC it was about 80 / 20 wood burners vs traffic. While I am not a great fan of the Mairie, they have been subsidising folk to replace older wood-burners with more modern ones which have a vastly reduced particulate output.
I think they're to be banned in the Chamonix valley form 2022.
Is it too cynical to suggest that this is an attempt by Macron to curry favour with the environmental lobby at a time when he is experiencing widespread unpopularity in France?
It seems to me reminiscent of the ban on heliskiing in France introduced by Giscard d'Estaing. At the time when he was beset by the affair of the Bokassa diamonds he was photographed by the paparazzi heliskiing from Mont Blanc. In an attempt to divert attention from the greater scandal he introduced the heliskiing ban as a sop to the envionmentalists.
Maybe, but the creation of the OFB predates Macron although he has broadened its scope- I have former colleagues who used to work for the French Natural History Museum who have been transferred to the new body so have heard many complaints, mostly arising from bring together staff who were previously on different pay scales & terms of employment, rather than the concept itself.
You're just angry with rowing machine man because of your own insecurities. You know that you've never been fit enough to contemplate a challenge like that and you know that like most mountaineers you do it for entirely selfish reasons. Like most people your 'ethics' are built on the premise that the way you, personally, can do it is the way everyone should. I'd rather see a man hefting a rowing machine up for charity than have rocks dropped on me by arsehole French guides or their chains of clients holding me up on routes. Yes I know he left it in the refuge but do you really think someone in need would be so pathetic that they wouldn't deal with it by moving out out? There's plenty of kit and shit stashed all over the Alps a rowing machine is probably one of the less offensive items. I'd rather find one of them than an the human excrement surrounding many bivouacs.
> You're just angry with rowing machine man because of your own insecurities.
Nope. I'm angry because it's always the thoughtless few who spoil it for the masses. He could have tried to do all the alps 4000ers in a season, unsupported, if he wanted to impress the mountaineering community who would have no doubt supported his charitable cause.
There's a young lad, Kevin woods, trying to push all the Munros in winter right now. Yeah I know Martin Moran did it, but it's still a great effort.
One of the several times I've been up MB, once on the traverse of the 3 at night, there were only a few folk there and I got chatting to a German fella soloing as we pushed up Maudit, he'd cycled to the alps from his home town in Germany. Full marks for him.
> You know that you've never been fit enough to contemplate a challenge like that
You clearly don't know me!
Ps. There is no excuse for litter. I don't care if it's a banana skin, gel packet or rowing machine. If you can't haul out down, don't haul it up.
I think that banning guides is what The French are after, except Chamonix guides.
i think that is about the most stupid response I've seen on UKC for a long time. Well done.
I doubt it. The utter shite spouted on UKC only ever lessens my faith in humanity and climbers in particular, for people who do such an exciting past time it's full of boring Barlows who spend their time sneering at others. In that way the comment is fairly typical.
> Nope. I'm angry because it's always the thoughtless few who spoil it for the masses. He could have tried to do all the alps 4000ers in a season, unsupported, if he wanted to impress the mountaineering community who would have no doubt supported his charitable cause.
As a mountaineer the idea of being sponsored or requiring kudos from the mountaineering community for something I would enjoy is daft. However my gut instinct is that I wouldn't enjoy lifting a rowing machine up there.
> There's a young lad, Kevin woods, trying to push all the Munros in winter right now. Yeah I know Martin Moran did it, but it's still a great effort.
Well done to him.
> You clearly don't know me!
Prove it! The guy is clearly harder than you are and I definitely think that you're insecure about it. I definitely think he's braver than you and probably more interesting.
> Ps. There is no excuse for litter. I don't care if it's a banana skin, gel packet or rowing machine. If you can't haul out down, don't haul it up.
I agree, however a cached item is not litter, which should be removed from the crag by anyone who encounters it. I hope you don't go round stanage removing everyone's rucksacks cached at the bottom of a the routes on a bank holiday? It would be a bit rude.
> Prove it!
How's that possible?
I'm skiing vasaloppet(90km) in a week or so time. You can probably buy a place and we can discuss accomplishments as we go. Or if you prefer Vattenrundan cycling in June (315km).
> The guy is clearly harder than you are
Oh come on, how old are?
> and I definitely think that you're insecure about it.
Like most people no, regardless of if I'm in the alps, on a crag, racing over hills running, orienteering, skiing, cycling etc.. 99% of the time I'm competing against myself. At the rather injury prone age of 48 having hammered my body in the hills, on rivers and underground for around 35 years now, I've nothing prove to anyone. As the saying goes, the best mountaineer is the one having the most fun. You'll find no pictures of me doing x and y on social media or checking into different locations, I don't really care, I'm doing it for me, not anyone else.
> I agree, however a cached item is not litter
It is if it's still there 24hrs later.
When I did the greater traverse on Skye I left a bottle of water at An Dorus and another in the Glen for when I crossed over. They were gone within 24hrs of being hidden. That is what a cache is.
The rowing machine is just a classic case of ambition over ability, biting off more than he could chew. All he had to do was have 4 mates shadow him, and if he failed they could help. Prior planning prevents...etc.
> As a mountaineer the idea of being sponsored or requiring kudos from the mountaineering community for something I would enjoy is daft. However my gut instinct is that I wouldn't enjoy lifting a rowing machine up there.
It's not about kudos, it's about picking an appropriate challenge for charity? Wasn't that his goal?
Look at the respect folk have on here for spine racers, versus leaving litter in a refuge. If you want to raise money, you need the respect of those writing the cheque.
The return of large numbers of people to national parks and other upland areas in England has brought a spike in littering, wildfires and mountain rescue incidents. Some issues appear to be worse than during equivalent periods in past years.