Authorities in the Haute-Savoie region of France have extended the period of temporary access restriction to August 1st on the popular Goûter Route (PD)/Normal Route up Mont Blanc as a result of overcrowding. Only climbers with pre-booked accommodation at the Goûter hut will be permitted to attempt the route in an effort to resolve its overcrowding issue.
The restrictions were initially proposed to be in place for a week, but will now be enforced until August 1st, according to a French news report. During this period, access to the summit of Mont Blanc via this route, beyond the Tête-Rousse Glacier, is only granted to those who can provide evidence of a reservation at the Goûter refuge. Details of the restriction is provided in French on the Goûter refuge website (PDF at top).
The hut's capacity of 120 climbers is frequently exceeded, posing 'safety and public order risks.' However, people without a reservation but who are 'in a state of distress' can be accommodated 'under the principle of solidarity in the mountains,' according to the PDF.
The mayor of St Gervais, Jean-Marc Peillex, has frequently intervened in activities on the mountain. Last year he imposed a minimum equipment by-law concerning climbers on the Goûter route, following a spate of deaths due to ill-preparedness. Mr Peillex has threatened closure of the refuge if measures are not taken to control the risks of overcrowding.
How on earth are they going to enforce that?
Some information in French in the PDF linked at the top of this page: http://refugedugouter.ffcam.fr/GB_home.html
It claims that law enforcement will appreciate that those taking the Tête Rousse itinerary will avoid the refuge, but yes - difficult to enforce fully I suspect.
Is this any different from similar restrictions in previous years ?
Seems like a warning of sorts to the hut manager who has been allowing it to go over capacity frequently this season. Not sure what all the talk of 'public order' is about - fights at height?
The full notice mentions that:
- There were cases of would be hut ‘users’ threatening the guardian when he/she presumably refused to let them stay.
- This will be enforced by stationing gendarmes somewhere on the path (I guess just above where it branches off for the Tate Rousse) and providing them with a list of people booked in that night. I guess they would only be there during the day, when the train is running. Hypothetically, someone could may be skip through at the crack of dawn after walking up from the valley or getting the train and bivvying but such people will be few and far between and even then they could just be told that there’s no space at the hut. I guess it’s difficult for a guardian to say no if the weather is so-so or it’s getting late.