The recent rescue of a 26-year old British man attempting to ascend Mont Blanc is only the latest example of safety issues in the mountains this year.
According to this article on explorersweb, The man was attempting to climb Mont Blanc wearing a tracksuit, hiking poles and a tarp. He was caught in a snowstorm and he had to call for help from the Bionnassay Glacier. Rescuers failed to find him in the storm and told him to find shelter, then lost contact.
He was found the next morning 3,100m up the mountain, still alive. However, with a body temperature of 25˚C, he was five minutes from death. Mountain rescue officials said he had dressed “as if out for a Sunday stroll,” as reported by The Daily Mail. He told police he wanted to climb the mountain as a “birthday present to himself”.
A growing problem
This is unfortunately not the first accident on Mont Blanc this year.
At the beginning of summer, local guides briefly stopped working on the mountain because of heavy rockfall, an issue driven by climate change.
The mayor of Saint-Gervais-les-Bains, a village at the foot of Mont Blanc, announced plans to charge a deposit of €15,000 to reach the peak via the Goûter route. The aim was to cover rescue and funeral costs of the climbing mishaps that increase every year.
However neither warnings, videos, nor financial threats were enough to prevent poorly equipped “pseudo-alpinists” from climbing Mont Blanc. Local authorities ended up closing the busiest refuges in the French Alps until further notice.
It’s likely that climbing Mont Blanc will continue to become more complicated for everyone. This is why it’s so important to put safety first when adventuring in the mountains. Hiring a guide is an excellent way to prevent accidents and make the most of a mountaineering trip. At Ten80, we have a large network of mountain professionals and we always point our clients in the right direction when planning their next adventure in the Alps.
Climate change is becoming one of the world’s major issues and talking points. The development of ski resorts creates significant pressure on the mountains and their eco-system, and it is an undisputable fact that the glaciers are retreating. We found some useful environmental tips in this article on seechamonix.com to help preserve the mountains for future generations.
- Be aware of your environmental impact as skiers and boarders. Educate yourself about your environmental impact on the mountains, and what you can do to minimize it.
- Leave no trace – do not litter the slopes. When the snow melts at the end of the season, litter left behind will remain. Bin it or take it home with you. Did you know it takes up to two years for an orange peel skin to be absorbed by the earth? While a cigarette butt takes up to five years. If you find litter on the slopes, be responsible, do the right thing – pick it up.
- Do your bit to reduce global warming on holiday and at home. In hotels, re-use your towels each day, and where possible recycle your household waste. Many French ski resorts now have excellent recycling facilities for plastics, cans and paper, glass and other waste. Additionally, if you’re not in your chalet or hotel room, switch off electrical appliances. A TV can use more energy when left on standby than it does during the time is being watched.
- Encourage tour operators to adopt green policies. Find out if your tour operator offers train travel as an alternative to flying; if they use paper from sustainable forests for their brochures; if they use low-wattage light bulbs in their chalets and bio-degradable detergents.
- Investigate whether your chosen resort uses environmentally friendly practices. Many resorts now use bio-diesel fuel in piste-bashers, solar panels for heating, hydro-electricity/wind energy for power and a host of other initiatives. Some resorts use the International Standards Organisation (ISO) 14001 as a mark of their environmental credentials.
- Reduce CO2 emissions. By flying fewer miles or switching from air to rail, you can help reduce the volume of greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change. Whenever possible, use your bike instead of your car.
- Respect the natural habitat of mountain animals and plants. If you ski through trees, you can damage them by knocking off branches and killing young shoots under the snow. Take care. Many areas are out of bounds to protect the natural habitat of animals and plants – not just safety reasons.
As mountain lovers, let’s all make an effort to follow these simple, impactful environmental tips and make the Alps a better place for those who will visit them in the future.