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Benjamin Ribeyre and Erin Smart

The south face of la Meije (3983m) and the upper Etancons Valley, with the Glacier Carre covered in snow during spring, Massif des Ecrins, France. [Photo] Manu Rivaud

Melting Giants: La Meije, Massif des Ecrins, France

For 141 years since its first ascent, mountaineers from around the world traveled to climb la Meije in the Massif des Ecrins of France. Meanwhile, the permafrost that held its stones together was melting. On August 7, 2018, rockfall destroyed much of the normal route. In this On Belay story from Alpinist 68, two locally based guides–Benjamin Ribeyre and Erin Smart–recount a search for a new way up the peak amid the uncertainties of the planet’s future.