Rocks the size of fridges have been tumbling from Mont Blanc as summer temperatures soar, scaring away many hikers from Western Europe’s highest mountain.
The heatwaves and drought-like conditions that have recently scorched much of the continent have exposed giant cracks and triggered rockfall, making the ascent to the summit more difficult and dangerous.
None of the seven paths leading to the top of the mountain, which dominates the Alps at 4,807 metres tall, is officially closed.
But conditions have deteriorated so much that only the most experienced climbers are able to reach it in late July, according to experts.
A lack of snow during winter has left glaciers at high altitude exposed and riddled with cracks, with large sections acquiring a grey or yellow tinge caused by the accumulation of sand particles from the Sahara.
Heat has done the rest of the damage, melting the fragile blankets of snow that made crossing crevasses feasible and sending gigantic boulders crashing down slopes.