UKH

NEWS: Mont Blanc Mayor sparks Regulation Row

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 UKC/UKH News 09 Sep 2020

The French communes of Saint-Gervais-Les-Bains, Chamonix and Les Houches have submitted a draft arrêté préfectorale (prefectural order) for public consultation relating to the protection of Mont Blanc's natural environment and the prevention of ill-equipped mountain-goers from accessing the popular routes. Today marks the end of the public consultation period after 17 revisions of the draft, which should be approved by the Haute-Savoie prefecture in the coming weeks. Meanwhile, a Twitter row between the mayor of St-Gervais-Les-Bains, Jean-Marc Peillex, and a French journalist has reached its peak.

The protected area consists of 3175 hectares, and within this zone non-emergency camping or bivvying on or near the Goûter route would be forbidden and roped teams restricted to a maximum of three people, while the existing summer hut reservation system for the Goûter and Téte Rousse would remain in place alongside minimum equipment checks.


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1
 pec 09 Sep 2020
In reply to UKC/UKH News:

From that map it looks like you could still camp at the Col du Midi and climb the Three Monts route if you want to avoid the hassle of prebooking a refuge well in advance.

 Mr Lopez 10 Sep 2020
In reply to UKC/UKH News:

Oh wow. Carrying a camera up MB or even the Frendo Spur just became illegal. Damn

3
 Stone Muppet 10 Sep 2020

Why the prohibition against more  than three on a rope?

 gooberman-hill 10 Sep 2020
In reply to Mr Lopez:

That would be this clause you are objecting to:
"- to carry equipment or objects other than those strictly necessary for progression in the alpine environment, individual or collective protection and sustenance."

Looking at the draft decree, I'd say it looks fairly sensible to me. I'd say the most contentious clause is the one above:
"- to progress in rope teams of more than three people;"
I've seen guides taking folk onto the Vallee Blanche in winter, with 5 or 6 clients roped to them descending the snow arete off the Midi (carrying their clients' skis). This decree would make it illegal for a guide to rope up to more than 2 clients. Possibly inserted at the behest of the Compagnie des Guides

Steve

 Red Rover 10 Sep 2020
In reply to gooberman-hill:

> "- to carry equipment or objects other than those strictly necessary for progression in the alpine environment, individual or collective protection and sustenance."

I wonder if that clause is to stop people carrying rowing machines up the mountain and getting too tired to carry them down again! 

 Fredt 10 Sep 2020
In reply to Red Rover:

> I wonder if that clause is to stop people carrying rowing machines up the mountain and getting too tired to carry them down again! 

I think it was his stunt that was the catalyst for this legislation. What a cupid stunt. 

 Mr Lopez 10 Sep 2020
In reply to gooberman-hill:

> That would be this clause you are objecting to:

> "- to carry equipment or objects other than those strictly necessary for progression in the alpine environment, individual or collective protection and sustenance."

> Looking at the draft decree, I'd say it looks fairly sensible to me.

It may be a bad translation, but even though the intent might be sensible, the drafting isn't. Like my example above, by that law if you are caught with a camera, or a book, you can be fined 15000 euros and/or put 1 year in jail. Doesn't sound sensible to me, it's too broad a brush

> I'd say the most contentious clause is the one above:

> "- to progress in rope teams of more than three people;"

> I've seen guides taking folk onto the Vallee Blanche in winter, with 5 or 6 clients roped to them descending the snow arete off the Midi (carrying their clients' skis). This decree would make it illegal for a guide to rope up to more than 2 clients. Possibly inserted at the behest of the Compagnie des Guides

> Steve

There's already a limit of 2 clients per guide in MB i believe. The Valley Blanche s not affected by this decree.

Even better, 2-2-1 says you are allowed to do paragliding/paralpinism within the area. 2-2-2 says you are not allowed to carry a paraglider... Ha, ha

Post edited at 11:25
In reply to Mr Lopez:

That line is definitely referring to people dragging junk up for charity stunts. I doubt they will be taking cameras off people. It's vague but it'll be there to stop the likes of the rowing machine guy.

2
 gooberman-hill 10 Sep 2020
In reply to Mr Lopez:

I don't see 2-2-2 as banning paragliders. It talks about equipment necessary for progression in the alpine environment. If you have the equipment necessary for one of the activities in 2-1-1 I think you are covered.

Steve

 Mr Lopez 10 Sep 2020
In reply to gooberman-hill:

> - to carry equipment or objects other than those strictly necessary for progression in the alpine environment, individual or collective protection and sustenance.

A paraglider isn't equipment or an object strictly necessary for progression in the alpine environment, neither individual or collective protection, nor sustenance.

The thing with laws is that they are black or white. Your equipment is either 'strictly necessary for progression in the alpine environent' or it isn't. Common sense says you won't be fined for having a camera, or a paraglider, but common sense or not, carrying those is now illegal.

It's just a ham-fisted approach of banning everything but what is listed, whch is a facile way of drafting laws open to plenty collateral damage. The list of allowed activities is also problematic in my view. Highliners have been outlawed for example, as have research/academic activities, or pretty much anything that isn't climbing, skiing or paragliding

3
 Stone Muppet 10 Sep 2020
In reply to Mr Lopez:

> Even better, 2-2-1 says you are allowed to do paragliding/paralpinism within the area. 2-2-2 says you are not allowed to carry a paraglider... Ha, ha

And 2-1-2 says you are not allowed to land it

 Mr Lopez 10 Sep 2020
In reply to Stone Muppet:

Yes noticed it. That really puts a spanner on the works for the PG pilots who wait it out for the very rare conditions that allow gliders to be able to fly up to MB and land at the summit. One such day last year already put a temporary ban aftr the death of one pilot. Seems this Mayor is quite kneejerky

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LB1aq9FCvt4&feature=emb_title

Post edited at 15:55
 Doug 10 Sep 2020
In reply to Mr Lopez:

The mayor has a long history of trying to get things banned & raising his profile in the press. I suspect  much of it is anger that most of the public think Mt Blanc is part of Chamonix.

 Hardonicus 10 Sep 2020
In reply to Mr Lopez:

Are guidebooks in? What about a coffee table volume e.g. Rebuffats?

 C Witter 24 Sep 2020
In reply to UKC/UKH News:

This is clearly an example of stirring up populist sentiment, making bad faith arguments and instituting legal overreach. The mountaineering community shouldn't allow snobbery about "under-equipped" tourists or indignation about littering to obscure the fact that this stinks of classism, social-exclusion, and over-regulation of wild spaces to the benefit of vested interests and wealthy tourists. Ulysse Lefebvre is on the mark in his critique. This is not about "environmental protection"; this is simply a pretext for authoritarian measures that scapegoat those who happen to be "the wrong kind of tourist".

We should learn from this, too, when it comes to protecting the limited "outdoors" of the UK - and our continuing access. We're so quick to rail against "ignorant people" visiting these places, calling them "scum", "chavs", "Rebok brigade" or whatever, and jumping happily on stories of fires, abandoned rubbish or MRT callouts for people in flipflops. But, do we really want to make our outdoors exclusive? And, how sure are you that you would still be included, if such exclusions were in place?

5
 John Cuthbert 25 Sep 2020
In reply to C Witter:

You clearly haven't read the 'draft', the rationale for it, or followed the newsflow over the last few years. 

This isn't about 'snobbery' or 'social-exclusion, though I agree that some of Lefebvre's comments were ill-judged.'. This is about prudent management (safety, and ecological), and civic responsibility. Who do you think foots the cost for clean-ups and when things go wrong?

John C


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