Italy: access still blocked at the foot of a glacier threatening to collapse

Photo of author

By admin

Courmayeur | Access to the small valley of Val Ferret, on the Italian side of the Mont Blanc massif, remained prohibited on Friday by local authorities, worried about the risk of a huge glacier collapsing in an inhabited area.

• Read also: Mont Blanc glacier on the verge of collapse in Italy

“Nobody passes! Neither car, nor bicycle, nor pedestrian ”: an automatic barrier and two security guards block access to the asphalt road winding through the hollow of the green valley, at the foot of the Grandes Jorasses and the Planpincieux glacier, AFP noted.

Like a huge serac, an estimated volume of ice of 500,000 cubic meters – the “size of Milan Cathedral, or a football field covered with 80 meters of ice” – threatens to detach from the glacier, according to the reports. local authorities, who ordered Wednesday evening for at least 72 hours the evacuation of a “red zone” below.

In the Italian region of Valle d’Aosta, the Val Ferret valley, which in this summer is a joy for tourists and mountain lovers, is close to the famous resort of Courmayeur and the entrance to the Mont Blanc tunnel. , vital axis between France and Italy.

Italy: access still blocked at the foot of a glacier threatening to collapse

The affected area is nevertheless located at least four kilometers from the entrance to the tunnel, and even more from Courmayeur, where the situation was perfectly normal on Friday, with its clusters of tourists strolling through the sunny streets.

In total, only 75 people were evacuated, around 20 residents and vacationers. The evacuation “was urgent and imperative”, justified the mayor of Courmayeur, Stefano Miserocchi, speaking of a “high state of alert” for 72 hours.

Local authorities are worried about the temperature for the next three days during this period of strong summer heat, after a cold snap at the end of July.

“This situation is particularly delicate, because it disrupts the level of the water between the ice and the rock, and therefore the stability of the glacier”, explained Friday to AFP Valerio Segor, director of natural risk management for the Valle d’Aosta.

“The problem now is that the water does not drain enough and remains like a bubble under the glacier, risking to lift it” and precipitate the fall of its most fragile part, according to Mr. Segor.

A large fault was indeed visible on the lower part of the Planpincieux, from which flowed two waterfalls towards the valley, AFP observed during a helicopter flight over the majestic glacier, clinging to the wall like a gigantic block of grayish polystyrene.

In September and October 2019, this Planpincieux glacier had already threatened to partially collapse, over a portion of nearly 250,000 cubic meters. Surveillance measures have since been put in place.

The weakened part of the glacier is located between 2,600 and 2,800 meters above sea level, in the direct vicinity of the Boccalatte refuge, a wooden house a stone’s throw from the rock, but which remains open to mountaineers. found.

In Courmayeur, as in the small town of La Palud, leading to Val Ferret and at the end of which the road is blocked, the “emergency” evacuation arouses skepticism, even sharp criticism from residents and tourism professionals. , worried about the consequences on their sector of activity.

Leave a Comment