Climbers on France's overcrowded Mont Blanc reach peak recklessness
The increasing popularity of Franceâs majestic Mont Blanc as a tourism hotspot is giving way to a rise in recklessness and antisocial behaviour on the mountainside.
Thatâs according to workers and authorities watching over Franceâs highest peak, who since this climbing season began have had to deal with a spike in insults and actual physical attacks from climbers.
Last Wednesday a guide was punched whilst hiking past a group of eight people from Eastern Europe, on the grounds that he hadnât let them pass.
Another guide was insulted at the GoÃ»ter refuge (3815 meters above sea level) after asking a hiker to put an ice axe away while indoors.
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A third guide was jostled to the ground by four climbers who werenât properly roped up and were unhappy to be told about it.
Several fake guides have also been apprehended on Mont Blancâs routes to the summit.
"Has the pinnacle of disrespect been reached? " Jean-Marc Peillex, local mayor of Saint-Gervais (a commune that includes Mont Blancâs peak), asks in a statement published on social media.
Heâs calling for a ban on âill-prepared thrill-seekersâ from Mont Blanc, arguing that most of the up to 400 climbers heading for the summit daily are novices who donât take the risks seriously.
"No less than about 80 mountaineers a day were rushed down to the GoÃ»ter refuge from August 5 to 14," he told Le Parisien.
Fifteen climbers have died so far this summer and France's recent heatwave has only served to increase the risk of avalanches and rockfalls as glaciers and ice melt away.
Officials last month began limiting access on the most popular route up Mont Blanc by turning away climbers who do not have reservations at the 120-bed Gouter refuge.
But many mountaineers carry on oblivious; displaying loutish behaviour youâd expect to see at a boozy holiday resort in Majorca rather than on a treacherous mountainside.
On August 11, a group of Latvian climbers attempted to climb the 4,810-metre mountain whilst carrying a 10-metre-long mast to hoist their national flag at the top of Mont Blanc.
A tourist also pitched his tent at the summit of Mont Blanc, another one decided to take his dog with him up to the summit.
Three hikers risked their lives by sunbathing on a melting snow bridge.
These are just a few of the countless examples of irresponsible behaviour by âdangerous buffoonsâ that Peillex believes should be dealt with with a firm hand.
âIf youâre sailing, you can be fined for not wearing a lifejacket, so why should you be allowed to kill yourself while trying to climb Mont Blanc in trainers?â heâs quoted as saying by The Daily Telegraph.