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Fondazione Montagna Sicura (FONDMS), Italy


  • Jean-Pierre Fosson: 

Fondazione Montagna Sicura

The Safe Mountain Foundation - Fondazione Montagna sicura - was established thanks to the passing of Act 9 on 24th June 2000 by the autonomous region of the Aosta Valley with the intention of promoting the study of phenomena and problems related to the safety, rescue and life in the mountains. The founding partners are the Aosta Valley autonomous region, the municipal council of Courmayeur, the Aosta Valley alpine rescue squad and the Aosta Valley mountain guide association.

It is pursuing the following objectives:

  • The study of climatic and meteorological phenomena;
  • The study of environmental phenomena which condition life in the mountains;
  • An analysis of hydro-geological risks;
  • The promotion of human activity in order to control depopulation;
  • The promotion of safety in the mountains;
  • The study of problems concernining alpine rescue;
  • The promotion of mountaineering and hiking activities.

Established at the end of 2002, the Foundation has its seat in the prestigious Villa Cameron in Courmayeur which was donated by Miss Una Cameron, an aristocratic Scot and mountain climber who, in the thirties, had the house built. She donated it to the Region so that a research and conference centre concerning mountains could be established. The villa is situated at the foot of Mont Blanc, at the entrance to the Val Ferret and a five minute walk from the Monte Bianco cable car. It is in a perfect position, given that it is easily reached from France (Haute Savoye) through the Mont Blanc tunnel and because the surrounding area is an excellent outpost for observing all natural phenomena.

All the initiatives were started in the autumn of 2003 thanks to some conventions with the Aosta Valley autonomous region’s committee for territory, the environment and public works. The foundation is presently involved in:

- the management of projects which concern the environment, natural risks, safety and conservation both of a local and cross-border nature and an assessment of the alpine environment from a sustainable development point of view;
- the acquisition, classification and disclosure of a heritage documentary on the alpine environment, with particular reference to the dynamics of glaciers and climatic change;
- the actuation of synergy with the main “centres of excellence” operating in the alpine region on the above-mentioned themes;
- the management of projects about communication and information concerning high mountain areas, from the point of view of prevention and safety;
- the implementation of training and specialized courses regarding safety in the mountains for various types of clients (mountain climbers, ski clubs, tourists and residents);
- the running of in-depth and specialized training courses for mountain professionals, in particular alpine guides.

The Foundation is the seat of the “Aosta Valley glacial direction cabin”, in agreement with the regional administration’s comittee for territory, the environment and public works.

The direction cabin is supervised by the geologist from the Aosta valley autonomous region and puts together members from the alpine rescue squad and alpine mountain guides as well as referees from institutions such as the National Glaciology Committee, CNR-IRPI and Aosta Valley’s ARPA (Regional Agency for the Protection of the Environment). Its aim is to co-ordinate some initiatives for monitoring Aosta Valley glaciers, to plan combined actions for safeguarding them and to promote, using work-tables, the scientific know-how acquired and the actions undertaken. Since 2004, these ambitious aims have been fulfilled through specific activities:

- the development and updating of a regional glaciological data bank, in synergy with the committee for territory;
- two annual surveys ( one in summer and one in autumn) of the 37 representative Aosta Valley glacial devices. ( This is done by mountain guides);
- the continuous monitoring of three significant glacial devices, one of which is done by using a remote-controlled digitalcamera;
- the creation of a computerized historical inventory relating to the evolution of the territory and photographic archives of the Aosta valley glacial environment, beginning with the discovery of historical documents and proceeding with their classification and computerization so as to document the geomorphological evolution of the area.
- specific research projects that include the use of instruments and advanced technology applied to the study and monitoring of glaciers.

The monitoring activities are part of the tasks performed by the “Aosta Valley glacial direction cabin”. Funds come from the Region as well as from the other signatories. Not only, as we have see the direction cabin brings together the people in charge of alpine rescue and mountain guides as well as institutional referees such as the National Glacier Committee, the C.N.R. (National Research Council), Aosta Valley’s A.R.P.A. (Regional Agency for the Protection of the Environment), CVA and the Parco Nazionale del Gran Paradiso. Each organization is competent in its sphere and together share t heir knowledge giving an important surplus at this structure.

The referent is Jean Pierre Fosson, Director of the Foundation and expert on European projects.