Alps Crumbling in the Heat

A long heat wave in southern and central Europe is having a serious impact on the Alps, affecting some of the most popular spots.

In the Ecrins massif (French Alps), a huge rock slide has buried the trail to the refuge housing climbers for Mount Pelvoux, one of the area’s most visited peaks. Further slides and climate change-related issues have forced the closure of three more huts in the last three weeks, glaciologist Melaine Le Roy reported on X (formally Twitter).

Chatelleret Hut closed because of flash floods and Selle Hut had to stop operating because the water source to the hut dried up. Now a rockslide down Celse Nievre Valley has cut access to Pelvoux and Sele huts. You can see the rockslide in the video below.

Be careful on Mont Blanc

In the Chamonix area, conditions have rapidly worsened, La Chamoniard reports. The zero isotherm is currently around 5,000m, meaning snowy ground doesn’t ice up during the night, even on the 4,000’ers. This means softer snow, weak snow bridges over hidden crevasses, and unstable terrain on the ridges.

The High Mountain Rescue Group confirmed the dangerous conditions in their latest report, issued on Monday.

A very dry-looking Mont Blanc massif photographed from the air this week

A very dry-looking Mont Blanc massif photographed from the air this week. Photo: Davide Faranda


Among the worst affected areas is Mont Blanc’s normal route. Several crevasse falls have been reported at the Dome du Gouter and a major slide yesterday at 5:30 am down the Col du Gouter (also known as the Bowling Alley) on Mont Blanc’s normal route resulted in a rescue.

If the situation doesn’t change, soon Mont Blanc will be extremely demanding or not possible, officers warn. “Make inquiries, adapt your choice of activities and outings, and don’t hesitate to postpone certain climbs,” La Chamoniard suggests.


graph with zero isotherm altitudes.

The graph by La Chamoniarde shows the zero isotherm in 2022 and 2023, compared to the altitude of some representative peaks in the Alps such as the Matterhorn (Cervino) and Italy’s Marmolada. Photo: La Chamoniarde


Yesterday, a new rockslide occurred on the north face of the Aiguille de Midi, between the Frendo Spur and the Mallory route, shocking trekkers at Plan de l’Aiguille. The debris cloud could be seen through the Chamonix valley, Le Dauphine Libere reported.

A frame from the video of a rockslide on the Aiguille de Midi.

A frame from the video of a rockslide on the Aiguille de Midi. Photo: Le Dauphine Libere

Trekking also hazardous

Landslides do not only affect alpinists climbing big mountain faces. They also affect trekkers and hikers passing below the peaks. The video below by guide Jaime Escolano shows a rockslide at the Croda Rossa in Italy’s Dolomites.


Just seven days ago, I crossed the base of Croda Rossa with friends, passing through the area that would be hit by the rockfall.

Trekkers crossing under the Croda Rossa in Italy's Dolomites.

Trekkers crossing under the Croda Rossa in Italy’s Dolomites. Photo: Jaime Escolano/Terrenodeaventura

Angela Benavides

Angela Benavides graduated university in journalism and specializes in high-altitude mountaineering and expedition news. She has been writing about climbing and mountaineering, adventure and outdoor sports for 20+ years.

Prior to that, Angela Benavides spent time at/worked at a number of local and international media. She is also experienced in outdoor-sport consultancy for sponsoring corporations, press manager and communication executive, and a published author.