Mont Blanc, rockfall in the Grand Couloir and TMB train stop
Following a large rockfall, the Chamonix guides advise against ascending Mont Blanc via the Goûter route, and camping is now prohibited at Tête Rousse. Furthermore, the TMB tramway now stops at Mont Lachat.
The great summer heat and long dry spell are the probable cause of the enormous rockfall which last Wednesday rocketed down the Couloir du Goûter on the normal route up the French side of Mont Blanc. The Chamonix Office de Haute Montagne immediately advised against climbing this route and as of Sunday camping is now prohibited in the area close to the Tête Rousse hut.
British mountain guide Andy Perkins reports on his website an eyewitness account of one of his colleagues during a reconnaissance at the time who described the size as "totally unbelievable. Blocks were flying past us as we sprinted into the campground above the Tete Rousse hut".
In a parallel note, the Office de Haute Montagne di Chamonix points out the the rack and pinion TMB tramway now stops at Mont Lachat until 2013, and that walking along the railway between Mont Lachat and Nid d'Aigle is completely forbidden. Access to Nid d'Aigle at 2372m on the Bionnassay glacier is possible either from Bellevue by walking along the "Chemin de l'Are" or alternatively from Mont Lachat at 2077m along the "Chemin des Rognes".
Both options add significant time and height gain to the ascent to the Goûter hut which is the starting point for the final ascent push to the summit of Mont Blanc, meaning that a night at the Tête de Rousse hut is now highly recommended.
Returning to the Couloir du Goûter, check out this interesting link to find out how that section may be rendered safer in the future: Comment limiter les accidents dans le couloir du Goûter?