Mayor in French Alps remains defiant despite criticism for suing hikers

REUTERS/Emmanuel Foudrot

A mayor in the French Alps famous for fighting mass tourism on the Mont Blanc has come under fire for filing a legal complaint against two people camping on the mountain's peak. On Monday, he reiterated his vow to protect the popular climbing trails from "wackos".

Jean-Marc Peillex, mayor of Saint-Gervais-les-Bains, has for years sounded the alarm against overcrowding on western Europe's highest peak, which is climbed each year by up to 20,000 people.

Last Wednesday, he filed a complaint with police against two climbers who last autumn posted a video of their camp they set up at an altitude of 4,807 metres, defying a 2020 ban on such bivouacs issued to protect the fragile mountain top.

"True mountaineering requires humility and discretion," the mayor said in a statement at the time of the complaint, adding that those who braved the dangerous climb without adequate preparation were "wackos".

"The Mont Blanc has had enough of these people who are looking for social recognition, and who are capable of anything just to show they exist," the statement read.

Escalation

But sector professionals said that the activist mayor had, this time, gone too far.

The SIM mountaineering association accused him of "a long-standing escalation" in his battle with hikers.

In an online petition launched Saturday, SIM accused Peillex of "lashing out at everything and everyone, without discernment, restraint or coherence".

"These people make me sick," he said of his critics on Monday, telling AFP: "They should be the ones denouncing this scandal, instead they defend the business of mountaineering."

(with wires)


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