Hikers may soon have to pay their own funeral costs before legally hiking this mountain. Mont Blanc draws attention to hikers because it is the highest mountain in both the Alps and in Western Europe. The mountain has recently come to the attention of the public because of its high level of danger to unprepared hikers. This 15,000 foot high mountain has taken the lives of about 100 alpinists each year.
Currently, it is up to the taxpayers of the town of Saint-Gervais-les-Bains, France to foot the bill when someone doesn’t make it off the mountain. But because of the sharp increase of deaths on Mont Blanc, the Mayor Jean-Marc Peillex wants to change the law, making hikers pay their own costs before ever stepping foot on the mountain.
Usually, it’s the exposure to the cold weather that alpinists worry about. However, it is quite the opposite for hikers of Mont Blanc. It is the extreme changes in terrain caused by the heat that is taking the ill- prepared hikers by surprise. Even professional guide companies in Saint-Gervais and Chamonix have stopped their operations because of the current conditions on the mountain.
In response, the mayor has proposed a $15,300 fee to pay funeral costs before hiking. “Thus, every mountaineer who wishes to defy this recommendation will have to pay a deposit of €15,000, which corresponds to the cost of (€10,000) and the cost of burial of the victim (€5,000).”
Huge gaps and rockslides are the main dangers of the mountain. Without guides or proper preparation and precautions, hikers are not prepared to take the trek.
Mayor Peillex states a simple solution, “Faced with climate change, the posture is not one of surprise or resistance; the only answer is respect and listening to the mountains.”