| ||The impregnable Mont Blanc was finally summited in 1786. This victory, for which a substantial reward had been offered, was achieved by the guide Jacques Balmat and a doctor from Chamonix named Gabriel Paccard. A century later, some 3,000 people had attempted the ascent and more than half, including sixty-seven women, had succeeded. Today, Europe’s highest peak attracts 3,000 climbers every year. They make their approach via the Mont Blanc du Tacul and Mont Maudit route of 13,110-foot (4,000-m) summits, or they climb via the Dôme du Goûter. Every day during the high season, 300 to 400 people crowd this glamorous peak. This heavy traffic, which is the chief economic resource of the valley below, threatens the site itself. A cleanup operation that lasted from 1999 to 2002 removed almost 10 tons of trash from the mountain. Extreme environments, such as high mountains, are highly fragile. They are sensitive to the slightest disturbance and easily damaged by mass tourism.
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