France: Global warming puts an end to refuge in the Alps


The Pilatte hut at an altitude of 2577 m in the Écrins Masjid area of ​​Isère, well known to mountaineers, is permanently closed. The rocky ground has become unstable as the nearby glacier melts.

Opened in 1954, the Plot Shelter served as a base camp for many mountaineering races.

Opened in 1954, the Plot Shelter served as a base camp for many mountaineering races.

Wikipedia / Anthospace / CC BY-SA 4.0

The Pilatte Shelter, located at 2,577 m above the Ecrins Massif in Isère, will be closed permanently for security reasons, according to the French Federation of Alpine Clubs and Mountains (FFCAM). .

The sanctuary, which opened in 1954 and served as a base camp for many mountaineering races, had already been closed since the summer of 2021, with large cracks appearing due to the “paraglial phenomenon” caused by the rapid melting of the Plot glacier. At the level of the refuge. These cracks have been monitored annually by experts since the 1990s.

All of the geological surveys carried out in parallel around the building showed a “new and brutal acceleration” in the spring of 2021, “weakening the structure of the refuge,” the federation explains in a press release on its website.

In thirty years the glacier has lost 50 meters of thickness

The glacier, which played the role of the buttress of the granite foundation, has “lost almost 50 meters in thickness since the early 1990s,” FFCAM said. “Natural disaster status has been recognized and insurance expertise is ongoing. Geological surveys have been conducted for over a year to understand risk events and to assess the sustainability of the foundation and its impact on the safety of practitioners,” the federation underlined.

A temporary settlement will be placed this year near the asylum to allow guides with groups on races around the asylum, he continues. He warns that the future of the building, which was built in 1954 and another built in 1994, is “very uncertain.”


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