Photographer's Note

Les Drus in the Mont Blanc range high above Chamonix in the French Alps is the stuff of mountaineering legend.

The Bonatti Pillar is one of the great Alpine climbs up 2,000ft of golden granite on the south-west face of Les Drus.

The Dru is an extraordinary pinnacle of rock. It sports an icy north face (one of the six classic Alpine north faces), a 3,000ft west face of smooth vertical walls and overhangs, and the spectacular south-west Bonatti Pillar. Few mountains have such a variety of magnificent lines on them or look so beautiful. The Dru crusted with a winter lace-work of ice and gilded in the golden pink of Alpine glow is one of the most striking sights in the Alps.

Walter Bonatti had made the first ascent of this route alone over five days in 1955. It is a legendary mountaineering story, perhaps one of the greatest exploits in the history of Alpinism, to rank alongside the first ascents of the north faces of the Eiger, the Matterhorn and the Grandes Jorasses.

During the past five years there has been a tremendous amount of rockfall on the Dru, millions of tonnes of rock have obliterated the classic climbs including the Bonatti Pillar. The scar can be seen in this picture where the rock face is lit up by sunlight.

Many mountaineers believe this is due to global warming. Of course mountains have and always will crumble such are the brutal forces they exist by. But it seems that these factors are accelerating. All over the world I have seen with my own eyes how glaciers have shrunk and how summer routes have become dangerous as the melting perma-frost loosens the rock and makes some routes into a deadly firing range.

Evidence of global warming? I believe so but only time will tell. But how much time?

PJE, manub, arnaud has marked this note useful

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Additional Photos by Richard SG (escher1) Silver Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 30 W: 5 N: 240] (1268)
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