The mayor of Saint-Gervais-les-Bains, Jean-Marc Peillex, has announced that various French mountaineering and governing bodies - including local officials, guides and mountain police - have come to a consensus regarding the introduction of a quota system to regulate ascents of Mont Blanc in 2019. The measures will only concern access to the summit via Saint-Gervais - the administrating commune in which Mont Blanc is largely situated, shared with Courmayeur - namely via the Goûter Route/Normal Route.
#montblanc #saintgervais ENFIN !!!! une décision consensuelle a été prise lors d'une réunion organisée par le Préfet #Lambert Je suis fier d'annoncer qu'en 2019 le #montblanc ne sera plus bafoué. Réservation obligatoire en refuge et un quota d'ascensionniste par jour sera fixé.— Jean-Marc PEILLEX (@PEILLEX) September 3, 2018
Mr Peillex has long been a proponent of stricter regulation on Western Europe's highest mountain as increasing numbers of ill-prepared climbers and tourists attempt to summit Mont Blanc. Last year he imposed a minimum equipment by-law concerning climbers on the Goûter route, following a spate of deaths due to ill-preparedness.
This summer, more than 300 people have attempted to climb the mountain each day, The Guardian reports. Access restrictions were put in place earlier in the season by Mr Peillex in an attempt to resolve overcrowding both at the Goûter refuge and on the mountain. Climbers required a booking at the hut in advance before ascending,
In a UKC interview, Mr Peillex described the issue at hand. 'As in every year, Mont Blanc is stormed up by many climbers but also by pseudo-mountaineers,' he explained, 'whose attitude and practices are disrespectful of the natural environment, basic rules of safety and also of laws and regulations enforced by the State.' A spate of rockfalls throughout the Massif due to melting permafrost at high altitudes increased the risk of death or injury in the Goûter couloir this summer, while reports of trail runners ascending in shorts and trainers, fake mountain guides and altercations between climbers and hut owners added to the Mayor's concerns.
An article in Le Dauphine reports that prospective climbers will be required to submit details of their plans before starting out on the route. The daily limit will be based on shelter capacity at the Goûter refuge (200 beds, plus 14 reserved for emergency situations), where reservation will continue to be mandatory. A "brigade" could be set up by local authorities to implement these measures, the article explains, of which the legal outlines have not yet been detailed and which, according to the prefect of Haute-Savoie, Pierre Lambert, still need be 'the subject of a serious technical and legal analysis.'
Mr Lambert confirmed the broad strokes of the measures unveiled by the mayor of Saint-Gervais, adding 'It will be important to be able to control the reservations and the identity of the climbers who go to the shelter.'
However, the Mayor of Chamonix, Eric Fournier, denounced the proposal, claiming that the decisions were made at a meeting to which he was not invited. In a press release, he commented:
'This uncoordinated decision, taken unilaterally, will pose problems of increased traffic on the routes taken from the Chamonix side, where the security issues have not been analysed.' Speaking specifically of the Trois Monts Route route, he added:
'A detailed analysis of the risks of increased numbers on this route, but also on others, should have been conducted by the prefectural authority, including the guide companies and the PGHM. That's what I asked of Pierre Lambert, Prefect of Haute Savoie. It is deplorable that a more global analysis of the solutions that could be implemented on all routes up Mont Blanc has not occurred. The consequences of a decision considering only one side can be dramatic. The municipality of Chamonix-Mont-Blanc will be required to take measures to manage the negative effects of this uncoordinated decision.'