French mayor who suggested charging hikers a 'funeral deposit' is furious again

Mont Blanc, France
(Image credit: Getty)

A French mayor who suggested charging amateur Mont Blanc climbers a deposit to cover the cost of their rescue and burial has made headlines again by taking legal action against a pair of hikers who set up camp on the mountain last fall.

Jean-Marc Peillex is the mayor of Saint-Gervais-les-Bains, a small town near the foot of the mountain that often serves as a base camp for expeditions. Last week, he filed a complaint with police after seeing a video of two people camping at an altitude of 4,807 meters, despite a ban established in 2020 to protect the mountain and its fragile ecosystem. He criticized the climbers, who he said were only there for self-promotion.

"True mountaineering requires humility and discretion," said Peillex. "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 pair slept in bivouac shelters, and documented their expedition in a video titled '9 jours d'expédition', which was shared on YouTube.

According to French news broadcaster BFMTV, the pair could face a one-year jail sentence and a fine of €150,000 (about $160,000) if convicted. When contacted, they explained that they realized there were restrictions in place, but not a total ban. They also said they had respected the environment during their expedition.

Peillex has long campaigned against excessive tourism on Mont Blanc. In August last year, he suggested that would-be climbers should pay a fee of €15,000 (about $16,000) to cover the expense of hauling them off the mountain if they become stuck, and burying them if they die. 

“Sometimes silly people only respond to silly ideas,” Peillex told The Telegraph at the time. "It’s like these people think they are going to Disneyland or on the London Eye."

Cat Ellis

Cat is the editor of Advnture, She’s been a journalist for 15 years, and was fitness and wellbeing editor on TechRadar before joining the Advnture team in 2022. She’s a UK Athletics qualified run leader, and in her spare time enjoys nothing more than lacing up her shoes and hitting the roads and trails (the muddier, the better), usually wearing at least two sports watches.