A mayor wants to charge hikers $15,000 to climb Mont Blanc to cover their own rescue and funeral costs after dozens of 'pseudo-mountaineers' ignore warnings

·2-min read
Skiers walking on mountaintop, Mont Blanc, Chamonix, France.
Skiers walking on mountaintop, Mont Blanc, Chamonix, France.Ac productions/Getty Images
  • A French mayor said climbers taking on Western Europe's tallest peak should pay a hefty deposit.

  • The mayor said French taxpayers shouldn't have to foot the rescue and funeral costs of climbers.

  • The announcement comes after climbers were advised to avoid a Mont Blanc route with dangerous conditions.

Climbers seeking to summit Western Europe's tallest peak may have to pay more than $15,000 to cover their potential rescue and funeral costs, a local mayor announced this week.

Jean-Marc Peillex, mayor of Saint-Gervias-les-Bains in France, announced plans on Wednesday to charge climbers €15,000 (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 adds up to the average costs of a rescue (€10,000) and a funeral (€5,000).

"People want to climb with death in their backpacks," Peillex said, according to a translation from The Guardian. "So let's anticipate the cost of having to rescue them, and for their burial, because it's unacceptable that French taxpayers should foot the bill."

Peillex's statement came after local mountain guiding companies temporarily suspended their trips on a climbing route that begins in the French town due to heavy rockfall and other dangerous conditions, including drought and heatwaves.

Peillex said, despite the guiding companies' decision and recommendations of local officials, dozens of "pseudo-mountaineers" have still tried to take on the route and play "Russian roulette." He added a group of Romanians had recently tried to climb the route wearing shorts and sneakers, prompting a helicopter patrol to tell them to turn back via megaphone.

Meanwhile, the mayor of a ski town located on the Italian side of Mont Blanc dismissed the French mayor's plan, saying "the mountain is not a property."

"We, as administrators, can limit ourselves to reporting sub-optimal routes' conditions, but asking for a deposit to climb to the top is surreal," Roberto Rota, mayor of Courmayeur, told the Italian outlet Corriere della Sera, according to CNN. "The decision to close a path, a route, is made if there is an objective risk."

Mont Blanc isn't the only mountain attracting unprepared climbers. Rangers in Alaska's Denali National Park recently told Insider they have seen a "disturbing amount of overconfidence paired with inexperience in the Alaska Range" after a climber was accused of lying in order to summon a helicopter rescue.

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