Climbing Mont-Blanc with a rowing machine for charity
On 30 August 2019, Matthew Disney, a Royal Marine veteran, attempted to climb the Mont-Blanc summit with a rowing machine to raise money for charity.
Disney's plan had been to climb the Mont-Blanc summit (4,810 m or 15,774 ft) while carrying the awkwardly-shaped, 26 kilograms (57 lbs), 2.5 metre-long (8.2 ft) rowing machine up solo, and to row on the summit, before bringing the machine back down.
He had successfully performed similar mountain stunts before, including on the three highest peaks in Scotland (Ben Nevis, 1,345m), Wales (Snowden, 1,085m), and England (Scafell Pike, 978m) (commonly known as the “Three Peaks” challenge).
His goal was to raise awareness for two UK armed forces and military veterans' charities and had already raised more than £15,000 (€16,425) at the time.
Abandoned rowing machine leaves people enraged
Weather conditions & fatigue made it impossible for Mr Disney to reach the summit, so he had to abandon the rowing machine in the Vallot Refuge Hut area, which is at an altitude of 4,362 m (14,311 ft). An action blamed by many.
As a result, the mayor of Saint-Gervais, Jean-Marc Peillex, sent an open letter to President Macron, urging him to take measures against "wackos" climbing Mont-Blanc.
In the same open letter, Jean-Marc Peillex said that he would send the bill for the machine's removal - which was done via helicopter - to the British Embassy in Paris. The operation cost €1,800 (£1,642).
British charity to donate 1,800 euros
According to The Connexion, Britain apologized and the Royal Marines Charity offered to help compensate the commune.
Mayor Mr Peillex called the donation “an intelligent end note” to the debacle. The finale of this story will take place on November 11th in Saint-Gervais, when the Royal Marine Charity Association will donate 1,800 euros to the benefit of the Bleuet de France, the French association that supports veterans.
As for the rowing machine, it was brought down by the PGHM of Chamonix and Mr Peillex said that it would be returned to its owner, if "he answers his court summons" (france3-regions.francetvinfo.fr).
“We are still waiting to hear from him”, concludes Mr Peillex.