Hi ben jammin,
I better should have written that you MIGHT get into trouble with the police by camping on the Géant Glacier in summer. I actually do not know how OFTEN the people from the Ref. Cosmiques and the Aig. du Midi call the police, but I know THAT they do it. And I also think that the prohibition is justified during summer since the renovation of the huge Ref. Cosmiques (after it was closed because of danger of fall) has costs some millions of Euros if I remember correctly. And it is great that such a nice hut exists now again in this high height. So I think it is justified if the people for whom different institutions have payed so much help a little bit to reduce this investement...
During winter, it is a totally different situation (when the Ref. Cosmiques is closed) since in this case, the old, dirty and dilapidated Abri Simond Bivouac is the only place where one could stay over there (I tried to give an impression of it on my Mont Maudit-page ...;o)) - and if you do not count the earth closet of the Aig. du Midi where you can also stay overnight in case of emergency ... (you can read this thread Reservations cable car Aiguille du Midi and Abri Simond ...;o))) . But this bivouac hut does not exist anymore "officially", i.e. no current guide book, as far as I know, names this bivouac hut anymore. In an old edition of Eberlein, one could read already about 15 years ago, that this bivouac hut is NOT useable anymore .... so it is only insider-knowledge, that this bivuoac hut is open in winter when the Ref. Cosmiques is closed. The true reason (according to insider knowledge) why this bivouac hut still exists and is open in winter (and even the garbage cans of which are removed "officially" by the order of Chamonix or the Ref. Cosmiques) is that mountain guides use this bivouac hut in winter when they bring up their clients for winter ice climbing. Obviously, it is more comfortable for them to stay in the bivouac hut than to camp (although I am myself not totally convinced that the stuffy hut is better than a tent with fresh air if you stay only one or two nights overthere). So if you do not have this insider knowledge that the Abri Simond bivouac is still useable during some weeks in winter, you do not have any other possibility either to camp (illegally) or to dig a snow cave in order to stay there overnight. I personally cannot find neither any economic nor any ecological reason why staying in snow caves is allowed but camping not or rather what the economic or ecological advantage of snow caves is ....except that it probably makes more fun ...;o)
Personally I never got into trouble on the midi, and I haven't
seen anyone who got into trouble either. Then again, I was never
up there in the main season when the herds of tourist trample
over your tent.
I'm sorry that I don't agree with your argument that the high price
of a luxurious hut somewhere automatically gives anybody around
the duty to stay there so the owner can pay for his costs.
I know a lot of people who would be happy if there was no hut
at all, certainly not such an expensive one that invites the
more 'fancy' tourist-mountaineers. A bivouac would be sufficient
for emergencies if you are concerned about that.
Also I don't agree with you that it is *morally* OK if the people from the
refuge call the police in the main season, when the Refuge is completely
booked for many weeks and there is no chance to get a place there.
On the other hand, in this very spot, I do see the problem that
is caused by too many people camping on the Glacier there, dropping
their human waste everywhere around, where it all thaws out of the
snow in summer.
So this might really be an exception in the Alps, where I could
understand that some limitation is necessary.
Just some very personal thoughts,
no reply necessary,
Hi ben jammin,
I am copying the description of the approach to the Ref. Cosmiques from my Mont Maudit-page:
To the Ref. Cosmiques and the Biv. Abri Simond:
In order to reach the hut, you need about 1/2 h from the Aig. du Midi. If you leave the cable car station via the bridge, you go to the Southsummit. On the firn ridge, you go down with SE-direction to an even ridgeplatform; then turn right to the S and SW-direction below the S-face of the Aig. du Midi. Pay attention to crevasses!
You reach the Aig. du Midi with cable car from Chamonix
the thing with the camping on the Géant Glacier is really difficult. Officially it is strictly prohibited during summer as well as during winter. But when the Ref. Cosmiques is closed (some weeks in winter), people do not care if you stay in the Abri Simond Bivouac near the Ref. Cosmiques or whether you camp on the glacier. One time during winter, I also camped on the glacier (although it was really cold with -30°C .... ;o)). There were other people as well who camped on the glacier. And some other people were staying in snow holes ....;o)) But when the Ref. Cosmiques is open, i.e. especially during summer, you will probably get into trouble with the police ....