Last weekend saw the destruction of 1000s of trees in Chamonix and for once it wasn’t at the hands of men with chainsaws. A foehn wind blew through the valley and although we weren’t in Chamonix for it we saw its devastating effects today. A foehn wind is a hot, dry wind that occurs in Alpine valleys and when it whips up you really feel it. It looks cold but feels warm and it gusts for days.
I went out for my first run since arriving on Tuesday this morning. I had to climb over trunks, scrape through branches and even scramble over a stone wall to get round the many downed conifers on my route. I was shocked at the size of these trees which had either been uprooted or snapped in half by Saturdays ferocious winds. A new house was being built high up the mountainside but all of the windows had been smashed – I can’t imagine what it would have been like living there when that happened.
While I was out running, Mr R was out riding. He tried to ride one of our favourite off road paths but couldn’t. He told me the trees had fell down on it and we went to take another look this afternoon. Virtually all of the huge conifers were down, the trail was totally impassable on foot let alone bike. It’s hard to imagine the force that must been to snap these giants in two or uproot them like they were feathers.
This is what the trail used to look like – we shot this video in 2008 from the same spot I am standing at in the picture above.
Chamonet.com had this to say today about the cost of the damage.