November 5 - Mont Blanc, Western Europe's tallest peak, and a centre-piece of Annecy's bid to host the 2018 Winter Olympics has shrunk by 45 centimetres (18 inches) in two years, experts said today following an official survey.
The new height of Mont Blanc, which lies on the three-way border between France, Italy and Switzerland and which would stage some of the alpine events if Annecy is chosen to host the Games, is now 4,810.45 metres (15,782.3 feet), just over half that of Nepal's Everest but still the tallest Alpine peak.
The volume of snow and ice coating the summit has also dropped by about a tenth, topographer Bernard Dupont said, adding that this could not be linked directly to the effects of climate change.
Dupont said climate change indicators could only truly be measured on a scale of 30 years or more and that ice temperatures and precipitation levels further down the mountain at around 3,000 metres would be a better guide.
The expedition, which included the Mayor of Annecy, Jean-Luc Rigaut, also found that the highest point on the mountain had shifted 26 metres closer to Italy but remained in France.
Maps, reference guides and school books will be updated accordingly.
Annecy's proposal for 2018 includes skiing in three major ski areas nearby, including the slopes of Mont Blanc which hosted the world's first Winter Games in Chamonix in 1924.
Annecy is one of three bidders for the Olympics, which will be awarded by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) at its Session in Durban on July 6, 2011.
The other bidders are Munich and Pyeongchang.