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A new path to the Conscrits refuge

In September 2012, a brand new path was created to reach the refuge of the Conscrits in the heart of Mont Blanc, via a Himalayan footbridge. For guides and the municipality of Les Contamines, it was an innovative way to meet the increasing dangers associated with the retreating Tré-la-Tête glacier. This new route reduces the risk of accidents to this remarkable site. The Petzl Foundation participated to finance the construction of the footbridge.

SEPTEMBER 2014

Trail to the Conscrits refuge © Stéphane Lozac'hmeur

  • Project partner:  Bureau des Guides des Contamines-Montjoie (Mountain Guides Office), www.guides-contamines.com
  • Country:  France
  • Project type:  Accident prevention
  • Budget: €15,000 in 2012 and 2013

In late July 2012, the new trail to the Conscrits refuge in the Mont Blanc, was almost completed. The footbridge was still under construction: spectacular images of working at height! The Petzl Foundation partially financed the footbridge construction.

August 2012: the footbridge on the new path to the Conscrits refuge in the Mont-Blanc is completed!

© Gilles Lansard
The Conscrits refuge (2,580 m) is on the access route to several peaks including the Aiguille de la Bérangère, the "Dômes de Miage", the Lex Blanche and the Aiguille de Tré-la-Tête. In 1997, the old shack which was often completely covered by snow in winter, was replaced by a modern building which can accomodate 90 mountaineers.

The Conscrits refuge is an access route to the southwest side of Mont Blanc, as well as the "Dômes de Miage".

Access to the Tré-la-Tête glacier has become very delicate and dangerous in the summer, including the aptly named gorge of "Mauvais Pas"(bad steps), which is increasingly exposed to rockfall. At the junction between the glacier and the cliff, where the glacier has retreated, new ladders had to be added every year.

Over the years, the issue of a new summer route had been discussed several times. After location scouting, guides of Les Contamines proposed an entirely new path. It now runs along the right side of the glacier and is criss-crossed by old hunting and animal trails. However, this path came up against deep ravines, which were difficult to cross on foot, hence the idea to build a sixty-meter footbridge.

Natural Reserve of Les Contamines-Monjoie © Gilles Lansard

Work began in June 2012, thanks to local and European funding of €130,000. Together with the guides of Les Contamines, the Petzl Foundation is committed to this project and to respecting the environment of the Natural Reserve of Les Contamines-Monjoie.

This is an exemplary solution to the problems raised by glacier retreat and climate change. It is also the opening of a beautiful gateway to the mountains. Risk reduction makes the refuge more accessible and enables younger generations of hikers to explore the highest mountains.

Olivier Bégain, guide and President of the Mountain Guides Office, says:

Olivier Bégain
« In the midst of this remarkable site, protected by the Natural Reserve of Les Contamines-Monjoie, it was imperative to conduct such a project in consultation with the various stakeholders: municipalities, the French Alpine Club, and environmental associations such as Asters.
From the mountaineering perspective,the new route isn’t any easier, but it is much less dangerous. From an environmental perspective, the new route required the construction of a footbridge, but on the positive side, the bridge allowed us to eliminate all of the ladders on the face of the cliff. »


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Photos : Gilles Lansard - Stéphane Lozac'hmeur

Updated in september 2014


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