Mayor says Mont Blanc climbers should pay deposit to cover rescue and burial costs

Man looking at Mont Blanc in the mist
(Image credit: Getty)

A French mayor has suggested that amateur climbers wanting to ascend Mont Blanc should have to pay a deposit of €15,000 (about $15,300 / £12,700) to cover the costs of rescuing and potentially burying them if things go badly wrong.

Professional mountain guides are currently refusing to lead hikers up many popular Alpine routes, including Mont Blanc, due to unstable conditions caused by extreme heat. High temperatures are speeding up glacier melt and thawing permafrost, causing landslips and rockslides in areas that would usually be safe at this time of year.

Jean-Marc Peillex is mayor of Saint-Gervais, a village at the foot of the mountain where many hikers start their journey. He says explorers who choose to climb against the advice of experts should set aside €10,000 to cover the average cost of rescuing a person, plus a further €5,000 for funeral costs, which would otherwise be covered by French taxpayers.

Peillex says that the proposed deposit is a reaction to several recent incidents when underprepared climbers attempted to tackle Mont Blanc without proper equipment, including a group of visitors from Romania who attempted to reach the summit wearing shorts and tennis shoes.

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

Peillex has not yet passed a legal ruling to enforce the deposit, but the BBC reports that he has the power to do so. !I wanted to make people react, to understand that today it's very dangerous, almost suicidal to go up," he said.

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.