“We see our playing field change almost day by day”, lamentations on Monday 4 July on franceinfo François Damilano, Chamonix’s high mountain guide and mountaineer. evolution called “dramatic” Based on “just awesome”Meanwhile, the collapse of the Marmolada glacier in the Italian Alps on Sunday, July 3rd, left at least seven dead and eight injured. Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi said on Monday that a disaster is linked to global warming. The collapse occurred the day after a record temperature of 10 degrees Celsius on the top of the glacier.
franceinfo: Is it getting harder to climb high mountains?
Francois Damilano: The golden age of iceberg climbing is clearly behind us. We have known for several years that global warming has consequences for high mountain regions. We have to remember what scientists tell us. In the Alps, the temperature rise is twice as fast as the global average. So we mountain guides, we mountaineers, see our playground change almost day by day.
How does this translate in practice? What do you see daily?
Several references point to this dramatic and astonishing development. The mass of glaciers decreases and the mass of glaciers decreases, and the shape of some glaciers changes radically. For example, Marmolada is finally finding its facade on a steeper slope than it did a few years ago. This is clearly what caused it to rupture as it is not a matter of a natural fall of seromas due to the advancing glacier, but rather a rupture at the front of the glacier. The rupture is probably due to a coupling of two phenomena: both global warming, but also due to an early season in particular. In fact, we already saw a heat wave in May. Now in Chamonix, looking at the mountains just above the city, it looks more like the conditions normally found in August.
Will this situation force you to modify practices and methods of excursions? Obviously, we think of the very large flow on glaciers in France like the one on Mont Blanc.
The gaze of the mountaineers and the gazes of the mountain guides are constantly adapting. Our experience and knowledge require us to adapt to the evolution of the mountain. This is the basis of mountaineering. Now, this change in icy terrain forces us to do several things. First, there is a change in seasonality. We tend to do some trails early in the season and not in the middle of summer like we did before. And then, of course, we must beware of new instability, dirt that appears with the retreat of the ice, and some collapses of the walls due to the high limit of permafrost. This permanently frozen land is rising due to global warming in the mountains. And for a number of years, we’ve noticed absolutely amazing meltdowns. But again, the guide’s job and the mountaineer’s know-how is to adapt to their terrain and figure out how to avoid certain areas that have become more fragile.
Should visits to the high mountains be limited in the future?
Don’t get the problem wrong. The solution lies not in restricting access to the mountain, but in limiting global warming. What happened in Marmolada is a dramatic sign, but it is nothing but a sign of a more global problem.
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