June 7, 2023

  • A French mayor has said that climbers who scale Western Europe’s highest peak will have to pay a hefty advance.
  • The mayor said French taxpayers should not have to pay the climbers’ rescue and funeral costs.
  • The announcement comes after climbers were advised to avoid a route on Mont Blanc in dangerous conditions.

Climbers seeking to scale Western Europe’s highest peak may have to pay more than $15,000 to cover possible rescue and funeral expenses, a local mayor announced this week.

Jean-Marc Peillex, mayor of Saint-Gervias-les-Bains in France, was announced plans on Wednesday to charge climbers 15,000 euros (about $15,300) if they want to climb Mont Blanc, the highest mountain in the Alps, located along the borders of France, Italy and Switzerland.

Peillex said the amount amounts to the average cost of a rescue (10,000 euros) and a funeral (5,000 euros).

“People want to climb with death in their backpacks,” Peillex said, according to a translation from The guardian. “So let’s budget for the cost of rescuing them and burying them, because it’s unacceptable that French taxpayers should foot the bill.”

Peillex’s statement came after local mountain guide companies temporarily suspended trips on a climbing route starting in the French city due to heavy rockfall and other dangerous conditions, including drought and heat.

Peillex said that despite the decision of the guiding companies and the recommendations of local officials, dozens of “pseudo-mountaineers” still tried to follow the route and play “Russian roulette”. He added that a group of Romanians recently tried to climb the route in shorts and sneakers, prompting a helicopter patrol to tell them to turn back over the loudspeaker.

Meanwhile, the mayor of a ski town on the Italian side of Mont Blanc rejected the French mayor’s plan, saying “the mountain is not property”.

“We, as managers, can limit ourselves to reporting sub-optimal route conditions, but asking for an advance to get to the top is surreal,” Roberto Rota, mayor of Courmayeur, told Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera. according CNN. “The decision to close a path, a route, is taken if there is an objective risk.”

Mont Blanc is not the only mountain that attracts unprepared climbers. Rangers at Alaska’s Denali National Park recently told Insider they saw an “alarming amount of overconfidence combined with inexperience in the Alaska Range” after a climber was accused of lying to call a rescue helicopter.

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