65 tons of rubbish was collected on the slopes of Mont-Blanc on Sunday during the second clean-up operation of the summer organized by Saint-Gervais city hall. 500 volunteers of all ages scoured the slopes between 2,800 meters and 4,300 meters altitude. The rubbish was placed in sacks and heliported to the valley.
Guides and French Electricty Company workers helped with the work on more dangerous terrain. The workers found tins, bottles and plastic cups and an old washing machine!
“We found everything the mountain has trouble digesting”, commented Jean-Marc Peillex, Mayor of Saint Gervais. The campaign has been dubbed The mountain in its purest form. The first operation, on the 19th of June collected 135 meters cubed of rubbish. “People have begun to understand that they have to change their attitude, the operation has piqued their conscience”. Saint Gervais will organize another clean-up next spring.
The campaign operation is not without controversy. The Mayor has passed a bye-law banning bivouacs on the access route to Mont Blanc, in particular at 3810m around the refuge du Goûter. In exchange a base camp will be created around the refuge de Tête Rousse with a capacity of 50 tents. Popular routes in the United States have a long established system of trail permits and packing-out poop and it seems that the presures on Mont-Blanc are moving it towards the American system. A friendly protest yesterday saw the alpinist Christophe Profit in discussion with the Mayor. Profit believes that the ban on bivouacs is not within the spirit of climbing. Despite the signs there were some half dozen tents planted in the snow around the refuge yesterday.