Danger: Do Not Climb Mont Blanc

Local guides have suspended their operations on the normal Goûter Route of Mont Blanc (4,808m) because of heavy rockfall.

While the Compagnie des Guides de Chamonix has not entirely banned climbing on the route, it has ceased its activity there and strongly advised climbers to avoid it.

Today’s announcement comes after guides previously reported that worrying crevasses opened up on the Goûter Route route back in April. Accessible to climbers at almost any skill level, the route is a highly popular ascent on one of Europe’s most popular peaks.

“We are witnessing rockfalls throughout the day and night,” guide companies in Chamonix and Saint-Gervais, France, said today. They added that extreme heat and drought had worsened conditions on the mountain.

“We are a month ahead of the conditions we normally have at the beginning of July. The mountain is already very dry. Following a winter when it snowed little and a spring when it was already hot, the rockfall at the Couloir du Goûter is already significant,” said Olivier Greber, president of the Compagnie des Guides de Chamonix.

Just days ago, guides “strongly discouraged” climbing on the Goûter Route amid an unprecedented heat wave. The July 13 advisory came after several weeks of extreme temperatures at high elevations. During the peak of the heat wave, on June 18, a location near the summit hit 10.4 °C. The previous record? 6.8 °C in June 2019.

Below, conditions on the Goûter Route.

The new normal

Climbing closures on Mont Blanc during summer are not unprecedented. In fact, they’ve become relatively common in recent years. Guides also shut down climbing on the peak for short periods in 2018 and 2020, also because of rockfall. This year on June 22, a climber died when a loose rock struck in the Goûter corridor.

“Scientists tell us, unfortunately, that phenomena that were relatively exceptional until now are becoming the norm,” Greber said. He did stress that the guide service did not actually prohibit climbing on the mountain.

“There is never a ban, far from us the idea of ​​​​banning anything. We simply felt that in the current conditions, it seems appropriate to us to suspend the ascents while waiting to see the evolution of the situation.”

The Compagnie des Guides’ operations halt does not apply to other Mont Blanc routes.

Sam Anderson

Sam Anderson takes any writing assignments he can talk his way into while intermittently traveling the American West and Mexico in search of margaritas — er, adventure. He parlayed a decade of roving trade work into a life of fair-weather rock climbing and truck dwelling before (to his parents’ evident relief) finding a way to put his BA in English to use. Sam loves animals, sleeping outdoors, campfire refreshments and a good story.