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Operation 'Mountain Pure' - 75m3 of rubbish cleared

Organised by the mayor of Saint-Gervais the Mont Blanc is white once again! Last weekend, assisted by 400 volunteers the surrounds of the refuges on the way to the summit have been cleared 75m3 of rubbish and litter, which was then returned to the valley by helicopter. It seems today's climbers are more conscious of polluting their environment than was the case twenty years ago.

Nonetheless, potentially a result of Internet and extreme-sports TV coverage, a visit to the Chamonix region and an ascent of the Mont Blanc (4810m) is becoming more and more popular. Some 3100 climbers stayed in the refuge du Gouter (3810m) in July, without counting those camped outside, all of them attempting the summit.

It is for this reason the mayor has also decided to enforce a law of no camping on protected sites, as the Mont Blanc is classified, particularly targeting those who leave the clearing of their rubbish to the wind.

This is not without controversy as some mountain-guides believe bivouacing to be part of the natural spirit of mountain climbing. It seems, however, all bodies share the belief that the mountain belongs to everyone and that it is not acceptable for guides to have to slalom their clients through mounds of campers litter to arrive at the summit. For now there are differences in opinion on how to achieve this.

There is a possibility that due to pressure on the mountain local authorities will begin to enforce more stringent measures to curb problems of pollution at altitude. In the US trail permits and 'packing-out poop' have been long established on popular routes.


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