The Europen dog days of summer have forced yet another activity to shut down. The current heatwave is causing popular alpine hiking routes across The Alps to close because snow is melting too quickly. Every summer, heaps of tourists come from all over the world to visit the area for hiking, climbing, and summer activities. However this year the extreme summer heat is suspending operations on the normally safe routes and mountain passes.
With the glacier melting, loose stones and sediment may slough off and possibly destabilize slopes and expose fossil ice beneath. According to the Guardian, the warmer temperatures— which scientists say are driven by climate change—are speeding up glacier melt and thawing permafrost, and routes that are usually safe at this time of year now face hazards such as falling rocks released from the ice.
Mountain guides simply don’t feel safe leading tours and taking guests out into the mountains with the known risks. Officials closed a dozen or so peaks including the iconic Matterhorn and Mont Blanc, the highest range of the Alps. The window of opportunity for summiting these classic routes may have closed for the season. Closures are normal, and in the past, they typically begin sometime in late August. However, this year they have started as early as June and July.
Officials are urging caution for travelers heading to the region of the European Alps. Specifically for glacier travel due to hazardous conditions. If you plan to travel to the area contact the mountain huts and guiding offices for updates. The final judgment is always up to the climber but be forewarned that once formerly easy routes nowadays may have extreme exposure.