LYON (AFP) - French authorities said Friday (July 13) that they would curtail climbers' access to Mont Blanc for at least a week due to severe overcrowding on Europe's highest peak.
The government's top official in the Haute-Savoie region said the order, which applies to the highly popular "Royal Route" starting Saturday, was required because of "very serious risks to public order" in terms of security and pollution.
For the next eight days only climbers with an overnight reservation at the Gouter refuge perched on an outcrop leading to the 4,810-metre (15,780-feet) peak will be allowed to start the climb.
Officials have been grappling with a surge in adventure-seeking tourists - some without sufficient equipment or experience - hoping to scale Mont Blanc during the summer season.
Last year 14 people died and two disappeared trying to climb the mountain, up from nine deaths in 2016.
The influx of adventurists from around the world - including a Hungarian couple stopped while trying to take their nine-year-old twins toward the summit - prompted a local mayor last year to threaten fines for climbers without proper gear such as crampons and ropes.
So far this year at least three deaths have been recorded on the mountain, including a Polish man and a Lithuanian man.