British ex soldier Matthew Disney found himself in hot water after he attempted the feat of carrying a rowing machine to the top of Europe's highest mountain. The stunt was intended to raise money for two charities that provide care to British marines, veterans and their families.
The former Royal Marine Commando who describes himself as an “elite fitness enthusiast and global adventurer” was attempting to summit Mont Blanc with the 26kg machine on Sunday and then row the height of Western Europe's highest mountain (4, 810 metres) at the top.
But he was forced to leave the rowing machine in a mountain shelter just a few hundred metres below the summit, telling The Local that the weather was worsening and that he had to take a decision to prioritise his safety and that of and his climbing partner.
Nevertheless local mayor Jean-Marc Peillex – who for years has sounded the alarm against overcrowding on Europe's highest peak and pushed for stricter regulations – did not take kindly to the feat.
“Wackos continue to pollute access to Mont Blanc,” said Peillex in an open letter published online.
“With a name like (Disney), you'd think he thought he was at an amusement park,” wrote Peillex, in a letter that was widely published in the French media.
“Apparently Boris Johnson can't keep control of his troops unless it was an idea by his friend Donald Trump,” joked the mayor underneath a pic of Disney climbing with the rowing machine.
But Disney said he believes the mayor didn't understand his motive for scaling Mont Blanc with a rowing machine and rejected accusations of “littering” saying he had left the machine tucked away in a corner of a mountain hut (see pic below).
“It was never my intention to make a mockery of the mountain. Something weighing over 700 pounds can't be classed as litter. Anyone who knows me knows I have the upmost appreciation of nature,” Disney told The Local.
“I was doing it for a good cause,” he said.
The ex-commando insisted plans are in place for him to bring the rowing machine back down the mountain as soon as possible.
But he was not the only target of the French mayor's ire as the official has grown exasperated in recent months by various incidents on Mont Blanc.
Over the weekend, he added, a German tourist made the ascent with his dog despite warnings from police brigades who patrol Mont Blanc routes during the busy summer season, and a promise that he would leave the dog at a refuge before attempting the summit.
Instead, the tourist snuck out for the top in the middle of the night with the dog, who survived but returned with bloodied paws, according to photos posted on Peillex's Twitter account.
The weekend incidents came after two Swiss climbers in June landed a small plane just east of Mont Blanc's summit and then started hiking to the top.
Stopped by the mountain police, they were given only a €38 fine and allowed to fly off, since technically they had only broken laws from the 1960s setting out landing sites in the area.
“This situation has gone on long enough!” Peillex said in his letter.
He called 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.”