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How to ski, climb mountains in a warming world? France grapples with future of Alps

  • FILE - This Wednesday, Oct. 12, 2011file picture shows an alpinist heading down a ridge on the Aiguille du Midi (3,842 meters; 12 605 feet), towards the Vallee Blanche on the Mont Blanc massif, in the Alps, near Chamonix, France. The Alps are the birthplace of downhill skiing and a crucible for mountain climbers everywhere _ and now the French government is trying to help towns at the heart of the lucrative tourism industry adapt to a warming world. (AP Photo/David Azia, File)

    FILE - This Wednesday, Oct. 12, 2011file picture shows an alpinist heading down a ridge on the Aiguille du Midi (3,842 meters; 12 605 feet), towards the Vallee Blanche on the Mont Blanc massif, in the Alps, near Chamonix, France. The Alps are the birthplace of downhill skiing and a crucible for mountain climbers everywhere _ and now the French government is trying to help towns at the heart of the lucrative tourism industry adapt to a warming world. (AP Photo/David Azia, File)  (The Associated Press)

  • FILE - In this file photo taken on Oct. 12, 2011, an alpinist heads down a ridge on the Aiguille du Midi (3,842 meters; 12 605 feet), towards the Vallee Blanche on the Mont Blanc massif, in the Alps, near Chamonix, France. The Alps are the birthplace of downhill skiing and a crucible for mountain climbers everywhere _ and now the French government is trying to help towns at the heart of the lucrative tourism industry adapt to a warming world. (AP Photo/David Azia,File)

    FILE - In this file photo taken on Oct. 12, 2011, an alpinist heads down a ridge on the Aiguille du Midi (3,842 meters; 12 605 feet), towards the Vallee Blanche on the Mont Blanc massif, in the Alps, near Chamonix, France. The Alps are the birthplace of downhill skiing and a crucible for mountain climbers everywhere _ and now the French government is trying to help towns at the heart of the lucrative tourism industry adapt to a warming world. (AP Photo/David Azia,File)  (The Associated Press)

The Alps are the birthplace of downhill skiing and a crucible attracting mountain climbers from everywhere — and now the French government is trying to help towns at the heart of the lucrative tourism industry adapt to a warming world.

French Prime Minister Manuel Valls on Friday is visiting the Sea of Ice on Mont Blanc, where the retreating glacier has been marked over more than a century. It's been a major tourist attraction since the 19th century, and scientists say the area is becoming increasingly unstable.

Ski stations at mid-altitude are particularly vulnerable to increasingly inconsistent snow, threatening jobs in a region that depends heavily on tourism. Valls is visiting the region to highlight France's role as host in the global summit on climate change in November.