Mont Blanc: an end to ‘wackos’ on the summit?
French President Emmanuel Macron is set to unveil measures to protect Mont Blanc when he visits the mountain on Thursday, after a local mayor complained that “wackos” were damaging the famous peak.
In September last year Jean-Marc Peillex, mayor of Saint-Gervais, a town on the slopes of the mountain in the French Alps, wrote an open letter to Macron, calling on him to take action against badly behaving visitors.
"This situation has gone on long enough!" Peillex said in his letter.
Macron must "write and pass laws without delay that from 2020 would severely punish all these wackos who break the law, and restore peace to Mont Blanc”.
Peillex cited examples including Swiss mountaineers who landed a plane near the mountain’s summit, and a British former Royal Marine who hauled a rowing machine up the 4,809m mountain as part of a sponsored stunt for charity, only to abandon it there after he was too tired to drag it back down again.
With around 20,000 people attempting the ascent each year, overcrowding has also become a problem on the slopes of Mont Blanc and recent years have seen officials restrict the number of people climbing the mountain during peak times of the year.
Macron is expected to unveil measures that would introduce tougher penalties for bad behavior on the mountain, as well as tighter controls on visitor numbers.
However, perhaps the biggest threat facing the iconic peak is climate change.
According to scientists, global warming has resulted in the shrinking of the region’s glaciers in recent years as well as the thawing of permafrost – making rock falls more likely and climbing increasingly dangerous.
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