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Dangerous encounters on the Western Alps.

Dangerous encounters on the Western Alps.

<FONT COLOR=RED><i>Dangerous</i></FONT> encounters on the <b>Western Alps</b>.

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Page By: chaberton

Created/Edited: Oct 10, 2012 / Oct 10, 2012

Object ID: 285369

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To Anyone who wants to read this article, it is known that:

This page, which I published time ago on Sp, had been completely erased from me when I went out from SummitPost.
It is only thanks to the intervention of Eric:Visentin (he explain me how to do), that I was able to retrieve the Cache copy from Google.

Thank you very much, Eric, for what it's worth, this article is also yours.


I decided to write this article, to acquaint bikers and hikers of the Western Alps about an insidious danger, often overlooked, but still, at a distance of more than sixty years, present on our beautiful mountains.

This is not the danger of landslides, avalanches or snakes and wolves, but the far more dangerous explosive remnants of World War II.

By this I do not mean that the Western Alps are like a minefield, they are discoveries made (in a narrow range of the Alps) during more than thirty years of excursions, more often outside of marked trails. But it seemed to me good and proper to refer you to the threat posed by explosive remnants of war and how to behave.

This one....is really deadly!
This one is really deadly!

Historical Introduction.

In the years between 1940 and 1945, the high Valley of Susa and Chisone, were the scene of fierce fighting.
In June 1940, the brief but fierce battle between France and Italy, disseminated the mountains of shells of every kind and power. Suffice it to say that on the night of June 24, the French artillery gave the bottom of all their reserves of artillery, sparking a fire of hell all over the Western Front.

The bomb squad had a lot to do in the months ahead to clear the whole area.
Up to 8 September 1943, the situation remained calm. After the armistice with the allies and the disintegration of the Italian army, the situation changed again. Germans and fascists occupied the valleys and consequently were formed the first guerrilla bands.
During the next two years of war was a succession of large and small fights between the two parties. Most of the weapons and ammunition were found by the partisans in stores and bunkers abandoned by the Italian army.

The partisan occupied almost the entire dorsal of Assietta, located between the Valley of Susa and Chisone. Their weapons included heavy and light weapons, including mortars, anti-air machine guns and even a gun of 149/35. There were other battles (as the Allies climbed the Alps) on the boundary line between the French forces of liberation and the Nazi-Fascists.

Should also be noted the Allied planes crashed in the Susa Valley, one in Thuras Valley, one above Bardonecchia. Moreover in some cases the bombers, returning from their missions, to be sure their cargo unloaded bombs on the mountains, as in the case of the 250 pounds bomb of Rocher Charniers. These were aircraft in distress, who had strayed off course in the mountains, or even been damaged by the contra-air. 
It was flying over the Alps for 11 km!
It was flying over the Alps for 11 Km!
1940. Demining in the Alps
Demining the Alps.

Dangerous encounters in the Western Alps.

This article serves to warn you from the objects that you find during your excursions, are often buried seeds but in some cases in full view. What you need to do is very simple, stay away!
If you feel take a shot with the telephoto lens, mark the point on the map and go to denounce the presence of to the Carabinieri (Italy) or the Gendarmerie (France).
Do not do more.
It is always best not to scream there's a bomb! I am telling you from experience, as most people stay away, but there is always the wiseguy on duty, who stops to pick up a souvenir, perhaps with the idea to expose it at home or even worse, empty a bullet to get a vintage pencil holder. Even the smallest objects are capable of disintegrating a man, leaving to posterity (if he took) only the piercing.
The explosives contained in these weapons have not lost their effectiveness over the years, and indeed are more volatile, as they say in the jargon more vivid.
Just recently has been been discovered, in the lower valley of Susa, an artillery shell filled with mustard gas ( Italian -dating from 40). The Geneva Convention prohibiting it absolutely use, but obviously the Fascist regime did not care beautifully (see War of Eritrea).
Also during my research at an archive in Rome, I found a document dated May 1940, in which for the attack to the France, were taken into account all means of offense, literally carry the phrase: "No one excluded, including gas asphyxiating".

From the series when a Maramaldo
(the name given by Galeazzo Ciano to Mussolini, foreign minister of Fascist government, when he learned that he intended to attack France) is about to make a cowardly, makes it completely.

So you see that touch the abandoned weapons is never a good idea.
Glass Mine.
Glass Mine

Remnants of a "bad past"!

The Fuze.
The Fuze.

The most dangerous are the fuses for artillery shells striking, especially if they still have the cartridge primer of TNT. It is based on mercury fulminate, it seems a small cylindrical object the color of aluminum, very unstable, it can fall apart one hand and fill the eyes with splinters.

Do not touch it!

The whole bullets, even without the spool, they are not curious doorstop or worse of ....vessels, even those small caliber 100 (charge of TNT between 5 and 10 kg), are able to crumble a house.


The German hand grenades like "mashed potatoes" (Stielgranate) are terrifying, their system is based on a trigger mechanism to flint. The pretty wooden ball coming out of the handle is connected to a wire directly to the explosive charge, not they are security mechanism!

Mortar Bullet.

The mortar shells, without fuze, still contain the charge of initiation, are able to tear apart a man with a range of 15 meters.


These lovely squares that you will find around, it's better not to put them in your pocket. They are pieces of nitrocellulose (ballistics), they were filled with bags of canvas and used as a launch loaded with artillery. Even if you do not explode, make a blaze crazy releasing a lot of great energy.

Airplane Bomb.

Not to mention the plane bomb was found at the base of the Rochers Charniers, when the French bomb squad made to shine, they shook the windows of the whole valley.

A big consolation I have, is that it is almost always heavy objects, so if is not the survival instinct to avoid, it is the free and deadly trouble.

To end, still a board (the last one I swear), when you go to report the discovery of a bomb, take your map.
The last time I went to the Gendarmerie, i did mark the point on a map 1:50000. With my finger I covered the whole mountain.

For a moment I thought I was being taken for a ride!


Mortar Bullet.The Fuze.Stielhandgranate.Balistite.Do not touch it!Airplane Bomb.Glass Mine.
This one....is really deadly!1940. Demining in the AlpsIt was flying over the Alps for 11 km!


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Voted 10/10

I feel honoured to see myself mentioned but in any case I have developed the article, neither I know a single centimetre square of the western alps ! (even the french !)
So I prefer to resign from the ownership and vote a good 10/10 ;)
(going to watch tonight a mountain reportage about... Gran Paradiso :) )
Posted Oct 11, 2012 12:46 pm

chabertonOk Eric,


Hasn't voted

as you prefer, I can at least give thanks to top of page?
After your e-mail, in which you explaining me how to retrieve the cached copies, I found and saved all the pages.
Your timely advice, is worth much more than a simple...
Thank you.
Posted Oct 11, 2012 12:53 pm

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