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If you want to summit Europe’s tallest peak, pay €15k for your funeral first

Shaurya Thapa
Shaurya ThapaAug 05, 2022 | 12:31

If you want to summit Europe’s tallest peak, pay €15k for your funeral first

A French mayor has proposed a funeral deposit plan for Mont Blanc climbers in which the tourists must pay in advance before climbing (photo: DailyO)

With modern day travel packages, climbing mountains has started attracting more and more people. But a French mayor still knows that this can be a deadly activity, the reason why he is pushing for unqualified climbers to pay a funeral deposit of €15,000 (12,15,555 INR and 15,347 USD) first before they summit Europe’s highest peak Mont Blanc. 

Jean-Marc Peillex is the mayor of Saint-Gervais-les-Bains, a small commune in France that has been a popular tourist destination since the 1900s. The reasons behind its popularity include its reputation as a traditional ‘French spa town’, historical buildings, and its proximity to Mont Blanc. 

As per a statement released by Peillex on Twitter, the mayor says that his municipality needs to take measures to avoid irresponsible actions on behalf of the amateur tourist mountaineers. 

What is the funeral deposit: The €15,000 deposit is what he asks mountaineers to arrange for before they climb and there is a rational breakdown behind it too. This includes the average cost of rescue (estimated at €10,000) and the funeral costs (estimated at €5,000). 

L-R- A photo of Mont Blanc clicked by Walter Mittelholzer (1919) and a photo taken by the University of Dundee (2019) showing how the glaciers are drying up
L-R- A photo of Mont Blanc clicked by Walter Mittelholzer (1919) and a photo taken by the University of Dundee (2019) showing how the glaciers are drying up

Causes of deaths: In his statement, Peillex focussed on increasing rock falls, heatwaves, and the conditions in a challenging section called the Couloir du Goûter (aka Corridor of Death). 

The mayor went on to refer to around 50 tourists as ‘pseudo-mountain climbers’ and accused them of playing ‘Russian Roulette’ with their lives! To quote Peillex, “Those who make the climb do so with death in their backpack”. 

Criticism from an Italian mayor: On the other hand, the mayor of Courmayeur, an Italian neighbouring town, feels that Peillex’s deposit plan is unrealistic. As reported by CNN, Roberto Rota said, “the mountain is not a property…asking for a deposit to climb to the top is surreal.” 

A history of disaster: Historically speaking, Saint-Gervais-les-Bains has inherited a legacy of disasters. A watershed moment in the village’s history was when a glacier suddenly burst and flooded the settlements in 1892. Over two hundred people died in what was known as ‘The catastrophe of Saint-Gervais’. 

Mont Blanc, like other tall peaks, has its fair share of mountaineering deaths. The highest mountain of the Alps (est height 15,777 feet) is also the deadliest with an annual death toll of 100 per year (as reported by Outside). The easy access for tourists is what draws in more people but also leads to more deaths. 

In this context, the mayor’s funeral plans, if implemented, might serve as a good deterrent but it might also negatively impact tourism in the region. 

Last updated: August 05, 2022 | 12:31
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