Avalanche fears have mounted in the Alps as permafrost melts away in high summer temperatures, leading a mayor in France this week to threaten visitors to Mont Blanc with a £12.500 deposit to climb the mountain. Jean-Marc Peillex, mayor of Saint-Gervais, believes the money could be used to cover the rescue or possible funeral costs of those who decide to play “Russian roulette” and attempt to ascend western Europe’s highest peak.
Discussing the state of Mountblanc on BBC Breakfast, British mountain guide Kenton Cool told BBC Breakfast: “That particular Mont Blanc has always been notoriously dangerous. But what we’ve seen recently in recent years really not just this year is the permafrost, the cold temperatures that essentially keeps the mountain together.
“It sticks it all together with snow and ice and what we find over the last few years rising temperatures means that the permafrost is is gradually getting higher and higher and higher. Normally during the summer, freeze back in place, that’s not happening.
He continued: “So these rocks aren’t being stuck into place. And the mountain quite literally is falling into pieces and every now and then a rock will tumble down and just set off a chain reaction.
“You can go on to Twitter or YouTube you can see these videos it is quite literally Russian roulette. It is incredibly dangerous.”
“Most guides office and mountain guides and myself decided two or three weeks ago to climb but the mayor took the option not to pull out a warning to close the mountain,” added Mr Cool.
He continued: “It was highly advised and then this week, the two mountain huts that most people would stay in, they were officially shut to try to persuade people and then finally the shock tactic of a 15,000 Euro deposit to the rescue.
“Right now the Alps, they are out quite literally a fall into pieces rocks and raining down everywhere, and it’s a very, very sad state of affairs.
He said the amount “has to be startling to focus attention on this”.
“If anyone thinks it’s illegal they can go to court to challenge it,” he added.
Last month was the hottest July on record in France, according to the national weather agency Meteo France.