North face of the Aiguille du Midi not recommended for mountaineers


Thousands of cubic meters of ice threaten to collapse: the north face of the Aiguille du Midi is not recommended for mountaineers.

After a fall of seracs, 15,000 to 20,000 m³ of ice is now unstable and threatens to collapse in the Mallory Corridor. A newsletter of La Chamoniarde strongly advises against frequenting the foot of the north face of the Aiguille du Midi.

On Monday 14 June at around 3 p.m. there was a fall of seracs that gave the alert. From the Plan de l'Aiguille refuge, one of the keepers Eddy Veillet has observed a large avalanche over a part of the glacier overlooking the Mallory corridor. In this season, this sector is a very classic slope and frequented by mountaineers.

Serac on the north face of the Aiguille du Midi
Serac on the north face of the Aiguille du Midi
Serac on the north face of the Aiguille du Midi


These photos show a horizontal fracture in the glacier which indicated the fact that it was cutted in two. "One could imagine a rupture of the glacier front" said the geomorphologist Ludovic Ravanel of Edytem Laboratory. Based on these visual findings, the authorities decided to carry out a helicopter flight that same day, which helped rule out the worst. "The horizontal fracture is simply a break in the snowpack of 5 to 6 meters high, or even a little more," pointed out Ludovic Ravanel. The entire lower part of the glacier is cleared of snow but the front of the glacier is not individualized. "

"It could fall in two hours or in two weeks"

This observation is reassuring, yet the risk is there. Without speaking of a critical situation, we find ourselves in the rather classic mechanics of a suspended glacier where a first fall of seracs triggered a beautiful avalanche. Below, specialists have identified a volume of 15,000 to 20,000 cubic meters of relatively unstable ice. However, Ludovic Ravanel warns us:  "It could fall in two hours or in two weeks". This threat could cross the access trail to the Mallory corridor and the Grand Mulets refuge.

Source: @Le Dauphiné

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