Climbers on Mont Blanc must pay £12,640 deposit up front to cover cost of their rescue or FUNERAL
Climbers on Mont Blanc are required to pay a £12,640 deposit upfront to cover the cost of their rescue…or FUNERAL
- Climbers must pay a £12,640 deposit to reach the top of Mont Blanc
- A French mayor said money will cover mountain rescue and funeral costs
- Adventurers will be able to scale all 15,774ft without a deposit on the Italian side
Climbers wishing to conquer Mont Blanc, Europe’s highest peak, must pay £12,640 (€15,000) up front in case they need to be rescued or die.
The deposit will apply to adventurers attempting to reach the 15,773ft summit via a popular trail in France after the local mayor taunted ‘pseudo mountaineers’ who play ‘Russian roulette’ with their lives.
Jean-Marc Peillex, the mayor of Saint-Gervais-les-Bains, from where climbers can reach the summit along the Goûter route, introduced the measure after dozens of people continued to defy the warnings.
The substantial deposit is split into two sections, €10,000 will cover the cost of a mountain rescue and €5,000 will cover the cost of a funeral.
Mountaineers wishing to climb Mont Blanc (pictured) must pay a deposit of £12,640 euros (€15,000) if they climb along the Goûter route
The mayor of Saint-Gervais-les-Bains, who introduced the fee, said the money would cover the cost of a rescue and funeral (Photo: climber on Mont Blanc)
Mont Blanc is the highest mountain in Europe at 15,773ft and is located along the border between France and Italy
The route is open to anyone of all skill levels and officials have said the number of inexperienced climbers is on the rise.
Heavy stone chips in mid-July caused the local government to strongly advise people not to climb and local guides suspended their activities.
A recent heat wave has made conditions on the mountain more dangerous, exposing giant cracks in the mountain and causing the rock chips.
“Sometimes stupid people only respond to stupid ideas,” Peillex told The Telegraph in a telephone interview on Thursday.
‘They have the same approach as someone who wants to commit suicide. So I say let’s do it right and ask them to pay us the costs that this entails.’
In a statement on Twitter, Peillex said the idea for the deposit came after five Romanian visitors attempted the ascent “wearing shorts, sneakers and straw hats” and had to be turned back by mountain police.
“People want to climb into their backpacks with death,” he added. “So let’s anticipate the costs of having to rescue them and their funeral, because it’s unacceptable for the French taxpayer to foot the bill.”
A mayor on the Italian side of the mountain called the decision “surreal” and said they would not ask for bail
Climbers can still try to reach the top without having to save more than £10,000 if they decide to start on the Italian side of the mountain.
Roberto Rota, mayor of Courmayeur, which sits at the foot of Mont Blanc on the Italian side of the border, called the decision “surreal” and stated that the Italian side “will not limit hikers’ ascent”.
“The mountain is not property. As administrators, we limit ourselves to pointing out when the trails are not in the best condition, but asking for a deposit to climb to the top is really surreal. You can decide to close a path or a passage if there is a real risk,” Rota told the Italian daily Corriere Della Sera.
Between 1990 and 2017, 102 people died between two mountain huts on Mont Blanc, the Tête Rousse Hut and the Goûter Hut, a stretch that most people take about three hours to hike.
The top causes of death were falling, being hit by a falling rock and ‘beaching’ – getting lost or entangled in bad weather
In the past two years, 20 hikers have died on the mountain and about 50 have been rescued from the mountain range.
Concerns over the safety of mountain activities have increased after 11 people died in early July when a massive mass of ice broke loose from a glacier on the north side of Marmolada, the highest peak in the Italian Dolomites.