French Mayor Wants to End “Mont Blanc in Heels” as Tourists Attempt Dangerous Peak in Shorts, T-Shirts, and Trainers

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Just popping to the top of a mountain with my shopping. Credit: La Stampa

Jean-Marc Peillex, mayor of the town of St-Gervais in the shadow of Mont Blanc, has been forced to close the two refuges on the main route up to the 15,774-feet summit after dozens of ‘pseudo-alpinists’ ignored warnings of lethal conditions caused by high temperatures and melting ice.

Both the Tête Rousse and Goûter refuge huts are now closed due to the “stupidity” of tourists who have been ascending Mont Blanc in shorts and trainers. On Friday, a highly trained and equipped ski world champion died in a fall on the mountain.

“Climbing Mont Blanc is not for walkers in trainers. It’s serious. You can leave your life there.”

– Jean-Marc Peillex

Local authorities have been warning climbers to avoid the Couloir du Goûter, a gully between the two refuges taken by the majority of the mountain’s 20,000 annual climbers.

“Last night no fewer than 79 mountaineers, mostly from eastern Europe, played Russian roulette and invaded the Goûter refuge despite these recommendations.”

– Jean-Marc Peillex

Peillex has been campaigning for years to limit overcrowding and unprepared climbers on Mont Blanc. Three years ago he halved the number of climbers allowed to attempt the mountain every day. And just last week he announced a controversial plan to introduce a refundable ‘funeral deposit’ of €15,000 to cover the cost of body retrieval or rescue should a climber need it.

“If they want to climb with death in their backpack, let them pay up for the costs of relief and burial.”

– Jean-Marc Peillex

In the past, the mayor has referred to the tourists as “ill-prepared thrill seekers” with little to no gear who undertake the climb without even booking a place in a refuge. Many some treat the ascent as little more than a gentle climb, but a section of the Goûter ridge near the top is so dangerous that it is nicknamed the “corridor of death”. The mayor also pushed to fine people who attempt the climb without proper equipment.

Mont Blanc, France, Italy, Chamonix, Alps, Highest peak in Europe
Mont Blanc, Alps. Credit:

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