Tourists are Attempting Europe’s Highest Peaks Dressed in Shorts and Sneakers

Steven Agar | ClimbingClimbing
italy, france, mont blanc, unprepared, alpinists, climbing, tourists
Just popping to the top of a mountain with my shopping. Credit: La Stampa

Italian mountaineers have spoken out at the number of ill-prepared tourists just turning up and trying to climb some of the continent’s highest Alpine peaks in shorts and trainers.

There have been a recent number of incidents in which flabbergasted climbers have come across day-tripping tourists wearing jeans and sweatshirts working their way through the snow at altitudes of up to 13,000ft. Expert guides are warning that many people have no idea of the challenges they face in the Alps and the Dolomites and are risking their lives.

italy, france, mont blanc, unprepared, alpinists, climbing, tourists
Well prepared Alpinists talking to a guy in shorts, hoody, and a baseball cap. Credit: La Stampa

A group of mountaineers, properly-equipped with boots, crampons, harnesses and snow goggles, were shocked when they came across a couple in casual dress:

“I have never before encountered people at 4,000 meters (13,123-feet) wearing sneakers and jeans… and being absolutely ignorant of the risks they were running,” one of the alpinists, Victor Vicquery, wrote on Facebook. “We tried to dissuade them… but they kept climbing”, he added.

This summer alone, seven people have died on the Italian side of the Matterhorn, with experts saying that at least four of those were caused by poor preparation and inadequate equipment. Italy’s National Alpine Rescue Corps warned that the number of clueless tourists wandering around the high peaks was on the increase.

“Some people approach the high peaks as though they are going for a city center stroll, wearing gym shoes, jeans, and sweatshirts,” the alpine association said. “A mountain is an extraordinary place but it is not a city park or a sandy beach. We have to respect it.”

italy, france, mont blanc, unprepared, alpinists, climbing, tourists
Just off for a stroll in jeans and trainers. Credit: La Stampa

Jean-Antoine Maquignaz, the mayor of the mountain village of Valtournenche, told local media:

“It’s crazy that people approach the ascent of the Matterhorn as if it was just a tiring walk. We need to remind people that the mountains are dangerous and you need to be prepared.”

In the last few weeks, rescuers have come to the aid of a German family who tried to negotiate a rocky path with a child in a pushchair and an elderly Italian man who attempted a cliff-top trail despite having a leg in plaster.

“Many of them have no awareness at all. There are people who think they can go off for a two-hour hike with just a small bottle of water, convinced that they will find a spring to drink from. But there are no springs here – there’s just us”, said Maurizio Cattani, from the local branch of the alpine club.

Last week a French mayor said Mont Blanc has become so overcrowded that there should be a ban on “ill-prepared thrill-seekers” and proposed introducing compulsory climbing licenses. Fifteen climbers have died on Mt. Blanc so far this summer, the same number as last year.

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