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The south Face of Grandes Jorasses, Mont Blanc massif
Photo by Enrico Bonino
Planpincieux glacier, Mont Blanc
Photo by Fondazione Montagna Sicura

Mont Blanc Planpincieux glacier in danger of collapsing

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The Planpincieux glacier on the Italian side of the Grandes Jorasses (Mont Blanc) is at risk of collapsing. The road into Val Ferret has been closed. And yet it seems as if nothing awakens us.

The latest news comes from Mont Blanc. More precisely, from the Italian side of the Grandes Jorasses where the Planpincieux glacier risks collapsing. Officials believe up to 250,000 cubic meters of ice may break away from the hanging glacier at any moment. All newspapers in Italy, and also many international media outlets, are reporting the news this morning, while many online media outlets started reporting about it yesterday.

The alarm was raised by the Valle d’Aosta Region and the Fondazione Montagna Sicura, a non-profit foundation for mountain safety, after monitoring had revealed the glacier shifting downwards by up to 50-60 centimeters a day. Clearly the collapse might be extremely important, and it is for this reason that the Courmayeur town council ordered the road to be closed that leads into Val Ferret road, the beautiful valley that leads below Grandes Jorasses, Aiguille de Triolet and Mont Dolent.

Earlier this month, on 4 September 2019, the town mayor signed an order (No. 3517) which - as reported on the website of Fondazione Montagna Sicura - stated "the prohibition of access and transit to the path that leads to the Boccalatte - Piolti hut and the area below the Grandes Jorasses Whymper serac. The order is necessary because, following advide received from the Geological Service report "Hydrogeological structure of mountain basins", the risk has increased of a possible collapse of a portion of the serac from the Grandes Jorasses glacier (estimated at maximum 175,000 m3) in Val Ferret."

It is almost superfluous to state (and to reiterate) that this is only the latest signal in chronological order. Yet we don’t do anything. Glaciers melt and collapse. The mountains crumble. Storms destroy our forests like a scourge (have we really already forgotten the damage Vaia inflicted on the Dolomites last October?). But it seems as if nothing shakes us. The nothing changes. That nothing convinces us to invert, albeit minimally, the inertia that - as the entire scientific community has long stated - will lead us to a headlong collision.

by Vinicio Stefanello

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