walkhighlands

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Lost in Lairig Ghru

Re: Lost in Lairig Ghru

Postby Alex W » Mon Nov 22, 2021 5:57 pm

I think it's a fair point to make that sites like Walkhighlands and the availability of electronic navigational aids contribute to a sense in some of "false confidence". That's not the fault of Walkhighlands or the navigational aids. I have a GPS which I use and I print the WH route of where I'm going even if I don't intend to use that route. I have and use them, because they support and enhance my use of map and compass on the hill and my time spent planning beforehand. I enjoy the planning and assessing the topography. There are few walks which I plan which don't result in ideas for a different approach or possibilities for a through walk using remote/ lesser trodden glens. The WH routes and users walk reports all add to the knowledge base and enhance the preparation.

But I was walking before we had WH and before GPS was affordable and before electronic versions of OS maps existed. You learned the skills and you knew that your survival should anything happen was going to depend on yourself and the gear that you carried. MRT was going to come only after someone in your party managed to get themselves off the hill and find a phone box or some habitation. The fact we have better safety aids now doesn't change any of that, it just adds a little bit of confidence.

The problem is with the generation of walkers we have now who have grown up with the better safety aids and have a sense of safety and security which isn't really justified. There is a mentality amongst some that if there is a path up a mountain and it's a WH route then it must be safe at all times. If there was any danger then HSE would have closed down the mountain. That sense of security is reinforced when successive good weather trips up mountains don't result in a problem. Then when we get to this time of year and some wild weather suddenly closes in at the same time as a sole navigation aid fails - there is a big problem.

I sometimes play a game with myself when coming off a mountain in the mist: keep your GPS in your pocket and navigate with or without compass using your judgement to select a route down; don't stop until you reach a positive landmark; don't cheat and use GPS just to get comfort; get yourself off the mountain the old fashioned way.

I've made two significant errors in the mountains. Sufficient to ensure that I take navigation and personal safety seriously at all times and if I find myself getting lax I remind myself of these errors and tighten up. I don't know how to get through to some newcomers that this isn't just a game of strength, fitness and endurance, but is skill, confidence, judgement, resilience and self reliance as well.
Alex W
Mountain Walker
 
Posts: 92
Munros:190   Corbetts:4
Grahams:5   Donalds:13
Sub 2000:9   
Islands:8
Joined: Dec 14, 2020

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