The mayor of St. Gervais has had enough, and some would say rightly so, with people making attempts to summit Mont Blanc without the right equipment.
There has also been a recent spate of deaths, accidents and missing people, especially on the Gouter Route to Mont Blanc's summit.
As a result, he has signed an arrete municipale today which means that with immediate effect, anyone attempting to climb Mont Blanc via the Gouter Route must have a minimum level of equipment and clothing:
- Head torch
- 2 pairs of gloves (1 light, 1 warm)
- Warm, waterproof (Gore Tex) jacket, socks, fleece, waterproof trousers
- Mountaineering-specific boots and crampons
- Harness and crevasse rescue equipment
- Ice axe
- Walking poles
- GPS or altimeter
- Hat, glacier sunglasses, sun cream, ski mask
Last year Jean-Marc Peillex (Mayor of St Gervais and councilor for the Mont-Blanc Area) threatened to close the Gouter Route all together, after a series of fatalities and accidents. That didn't happen and it appears that he had threatened to sign today's arrete around the same time, but has only now felt that it's an appropriate time to go ahead and impose it.
The arrete municipal, posted on Facebook, states that on average 20,000 people visit Mont Blanc each summer, with between 350-400 people setting off for an ascent every day, via the various different routes.
Considering these numbers of people, how this new by-law is going to be policed raises a number of questions. Will there be someone questioning people's direction/motives/end goal at the Nid d'Aigle, Tete Rousse refuge, the Hellbronner or the Aiguille du Midi? Will anyone be stopped at the Gouter Refuge, turned around and sent home if they're missing an item from the list above? What times of year would this policing take place? What about the other routes up Mont Blanc - will the mayor of Chamonix follow suit and issue similar by-laws?
Regardless of whether or not you agree with the kit list above, from today, it's obligatory to have it if you're planning on Climbing Mont Blanc via the Gouter Route. In any case, it's advisable to hire a mountain guide to accompany you and to consult the local High Mountain Office for advice on current mountain conditions how to plan your ascent.