The pioneers of the High Level Route sought an 'aesthetically pleasing' way to get from Chamonix to Zermatt that avoided tourists. In the summer of 1861, by forging a path through virgin peaks and unknown glaciers, they found one. Today the glaciers are smaller and the tourists more numerous but we seek the same.
Since the turn of the millennium mountaineers have noticed ever more rapid changes in the terrain they travel through. The summer alpine season starts earlier and earlier, landslides and rockfall are increasingly common and good weather conditions are less reliable. A number of classic routes are no longer viable.
C19th mountaineers often combined science with mountaineering. Following their example, we shall collect snow samples from 50 sites along our route for researchers from Utrecht University. They will measure the density of microplastics in these samples and use atmospheric modelling to find out how much plastic is in the atmosphere and where it's coming from.