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France's Macron to unveil measures to protect Mont Blanc from 'wackos'

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The view on Mer de Glace ("Sea of Ice"), a valley glacier on the northern slopes of the Mont Blanc massif, in the French Alps.
The view on Mer de Glace ("Sea of Ice"), a valley glacier on the northern slopes of the Mont Blanc massif, in the French Alps.   -   Copyright  Natalia Liubchenkova/Euronews
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French President Emmanuel Macron is to unveil measures on Thursday to protect Mont Blanc after a local mayor complained that "wackos" are destroying the summit.

Macron, who is scheduled to visit a glacier at the foot of the Mont Blanc and deliver a speech in Chamonix on Thursday, said on Twitter that he would unveil "concrete measures" in response to an open letter from Jean-Marc Peillex.

Peillex, the mayor of Saint-Gervais Les Bains, a small commune at the foot of the summit, told Macron in September that "tacking the Amazonian fires is all well and good but ignoring what's happening on Mont Blanc, letting such disrespect continue is not tolerable".

Natalia Liubchenkova/Euronews
The Ice Cave located on the northern slopes of the Mont Blanc massif, in the French Alps.Natalia Liubchenkova/Euronews

He warned that "pseudo mountaineers" are endangering themselves and others and getting away with it because of a lack of legislation and sanctions and said overcrowding on the mountain is leading to increased pollution.

The local official listed Matthew Paul Disney, a British commando who in August 2019 attempted to climb the 4,810m peak with a rowing machine only to abandon it 500m from his goal, as an example.

That same month, a German mountaineer climbed to the top with his dog despite authorities asking him not to bring his pet. "The dog came back down alive but with bloodied paws," Peillex deplored.

He also cited unlicensed guides, people attempting the climb with sub-par equipment and aggressive behaviour.

"This situation has gone on long enough," the mayor went on, calling on Macron to "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".

In September 2018, the prefecture of the Haute Savoie, attempted to combat overcrowding and disrespectful behaviour by introducing a daily quota of 214 people allowed to climb to the summit.

But climate change is also having a big impact. According to the Research Centre for Alpine Ecosystems, temperatures in the Alps have risen by 2°C over the course of the 20th century, higher than the 1.4°C average for the whole of France.

Rising temperatures have led to glaciers in the mountain range losing 30 to 40% of their surface area as well as half their volume since 1850.

Natalia Liubchenkova/Euronews
The view on Mer de Glace ("Sea of Ice"), a valley glacier on the northern slopes of the Mont Blanc massif, in the French Alps.Natalia Liubchenkova/Euronews