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Mont Blanc official wants climbers to pay thousands to cover their rescue and funeral before climbing

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Mont Blanc official wants climbers to pay thousands to cover their rescue and funeral before climbing

A French mayor wants Mount Blanc climbers to put down a £12,600 (€15,000) deposit to cover the cost of their rescue and funeral before climbing.

It is the highest peak in Europe with a 15,771ft summit, and the local mayor proposed introducing the charge as he claims inexperienced climbers are playing 'Russian roulette' with their lives by tackling the ascent.

Jean-Marc Peillex, the mayor of Saint-Gervais-les-Bains in France, said 'pseudo-mountaineers' have not heeded warnings about the dangers of Mount Blanc.

The deposit would be a fully comprehensive one, and the first €10,000 would pay for the rescue of the climber and the remaining €5,000 would cover their funeral costs.

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A sunny day on Mount Blanc. Credit: Alamy / Giacomo Peroni
A sunny day on Mount Blanc. Credit: Alamy / Giacomo Peroni

The mayor told The Telegraph on Thursday (August 4): "Sometimes silly people only respond to silly ideas.

"They have the same approach of someone who wants to commit suicide. So I say, let's do things properly and ask them to pay us the costs that this will entail."

He explained that many of the 'pseudo-mountaineers' come completely unprepared for the climb, with some even turning up 'wearing shorts, trainers and straw hats'.

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Peillex added that when this happens, they are turned back by mountain police, but it is a problem all the same.

"People want to climb with death in their backpacks," he wrote on Twitter. "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 told the BBC he has not yet made a legal ruling forcing mountaineers to pay the deposit, but did have the power to do so.

The proposed deposit has not been welcomed by the Italian side of the border.

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Skiers on Mount Blanc. Credit: Alamy / Russell Mountford
Skiers on Mount Blanc. Credit: Alamy / Russell Mountford

Roberto Rota, the mayor of Courmayeur which is located at the foot of the mountain, said that Italy will place no restrictions on who is able to climb Europe's highest peak.

He said: "The mountain is not a property. As administrators, we limit ourselves to indicating when the paths 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 an actual risk."

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Twenty people have lost their lives on Mount Blanc over the past two years and an additional 50 have required rescuing.

Some of the dangers facing climbers include bad weather and avalanches.

Featured Image Credit: Dinamarckus / Alamy Stock Photo/ Petr Pohudka / Alamy Stock Photo

Topics: News

Emma Guinness
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