French mayor wants to pre-charge Mont Blanc climbers for rescue and funeral expenses

Climbers aiming to summit Mont Blanc, the Alps’ highest peak, must now pay more than $15,000 upfront to cover potential rescue and funeral costs in the French town of Saint-Gervais-les-Bains at the foot of the famous European mountain.

Heatwaves in Europe have exposed the mountain’s face, causing rockfalls and opening new cracks on the way up. A surge in incidents of local authorities having to rescue ill-prepared and novice hikers has led the town’s mayor to seek deposits early.

“Like these people think they’re going to Disneyland or the London Eye. Comparing all this to Russian roulette may sound cynical to me, but the truth is a lot of people climb Mont Blanc think it’s a game A game without any real risk,” Jean-Marc Peillex, mayor of Saint-Gervais-les-Bains Tell The Telegraph was interviewed by telephone.

Rescue deposits are a little over $10,000, and funeral prepayments are a little over $5,000. The total matches the average cost of these two services for French local authorities.

“It is unacceptable that these costs are borne by the French taxpayer,” urged Mr Peillex. according to to CNN.

Italian officials in the town of Courmayeur, on the other side of the mountain, were not satisfied with Mr Pellex’s plan.

“Mountains are not property… [and] Asking for a deposit to climb to the top is surreal. Courmayeur Mayor Roberto Rota told Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera that you can decide to close a path or passage if there is a real risk, according to the Telegraph.

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