Mountain melt endangers Alpine tourists

Guides are not recommending hikes to Matterhorn and Mount Blanc

July 31, 2022

GENEVA, Switzerland (AFP) — Little snow cover and glaciers melting at an alarming rate amid Europe’s sweltering heatwaves have put some of the most classic Alpine hiking routes off-limits.

Usually at the height of summer, tourists flock to the Alps and seek out well-trodden paths up to some of Europe’s most iconic peaks.

But with warmer temperatures speeding up glacier melt and thawing permafrost — which scientists say are driven by climate change — routes that are usually safe this time of year now face hazards like falling rocks released from the ice.

“Currently in the Alps, there are warnings for around a dozen peaks, including emblematic ones like Matterhorn and Mount Blanc,” Pierre Mathey, head of the Swiss mountain guide association, told AFP.
This is happening far earlier in the season than normal, he said.

“Usually we see such closures in August, but now they have started at the end of June and are continuing in July.”

Alpine guides who usually lead thousands of hikers up towards Europe’s highest peak announced earlier this week that they would suspend ascents on the most classic routes up Mont Blanc, which straddles France, Italy and Switzerland.

The Guide Alpine Italiane said on its Facebook page that the “particularly delicate conditions” caused by the temperature spike made it necessary to “postpone the climbs.”


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