Summer of 2022 gave us something new. Three heatwaves in a row. 10ºC on the summit of Mont Blanc.
Day by day we could observe the change in the mountains. First signs were rockfall in the gullies, couloirs. Rocks of different sizes being released by melting snow and ice. Then glaciers opened up wildly. Loosing 20-40cm of depth per day, what was safe one day could be deadly the very next one.
And then we started to have collapses on ridges. Huge chunks of rock falling down with explosion like effects. Ice that usually stays always frozen deep inside of rock formations melted. Know as permafrost, it holds rocks together. Well, not anymore, or in any predictable way.
Now the summer is over and we again have sub zero temperatures. Did things became safe again? Well, water that melted inside of rock freezes again. Expanding in the process. I believe we will observe more collapses, shattering of known rock features.
Guiding became different this year. I had to change pretty much all of my initial objectives. On some summits, I felt like I was not doing any informed decisions. Things could go, or not. Lottery. No work of a mountain guide.
My clients this year had to be very flexible. We were literary changing our objectives by day. And thanks lord they were flexible. We had so much fun and managed several great outings.
Will things go “back to how we knew them”? I do not believe that they will. I think, we have to accept things are changing in such a way, we have to change the way we work. Change the way we approach mountains and our leisure times. Goal oriented mountaineering seems to have more and more limitations.
If you want to have a conversation about this subject, get in touch. I am keen to hear your view!
Be safe, get out…