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Novices on Mountains

Re: Novices on Mountains

Postby Freewheelin » Tue Feb 17, 2009 2:46 am

Monkey wrote:You guys exaggerate. Any fool can walk up Snowdon or Ben Nevis by the easy routes. OK so the winter snow makes it considerably more dangerous, but Snowdonia doesn't get so much snow these days...


... just wondering if Monkey has done much winter walking? :shock: :shock: I am gobsmacked (doesn't happen often, I can assure you!) that there hasn't been more comments on this!!! You don't have to climb the highest mountains or anywhere near that height to get into trouble in bad weather.
I would agree with several of the other comments tho'...
azrael - your right mate - let the snobs get on with their snobbery - we're there for the hills,
and
sam - like you, I'd rather be carrying extra gear than not enough - summer or winter - "best laid plans of mice and men" and all that.
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Re: Novices on Mountains

Postby Caberfeidh » Tue Feb 17, 2009 9:12 am

I'm sure it was "schemes", but he's often misquoted.
"The best laid schemes o' mice an' men gang aft agley,
an' lea'e us naught but grief an' pain,
for
promised
joy "
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Re: Novices on Mountains

Postby cjwaugh » Tue Feb 17, 2009 9:25 am

Here's the thing having recently returned to hill walking to improve fitness and rediscover the magic in our hills i have discovered that if a guide book says 3 to 5 hours for me that usually means 5 up and 3 back so I'm afraid i fall into the over equipped category, if that means being safe and warm even if caught out over night then so be it .......they went south back to camp :lol: :lol: :lol: druidsam
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Re: Novices on Mountains

Postby Caberfeidh » Tue Feb 17, 2009 1:43 pm

Me too - I seem to spend more time stopping "to appreciate the scenery" than actualy walking....
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Re: Novices on Mountains

Postby cjwaugh » Tue Feb 17, 2009 2:32 pm

Absolutely after all that's what its all about you have to make the best of the views when you can actually see them through the rain, hail ,sleet ,snow and cloud :lol:
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Re: Novices on Mountains

Postby Monkey » Tue Feb 17, 2009 5:31 pm

Freewheelin wrote:
Monkey wrote:You guys exaggerate. Any fool can walk up Snowdon or Ben Nevis by the easy routes. OK so the winter snow makes it considerably more dangerous, but Snowdonia doesn't get so much snow these days...


... just wondering if Monkey has done much winter walking? :shock: :shock: I am gobsmacked (doesn't happen often, I can assure you!) that there hasn't been more comments on this!!! You don't have to climb the highest mountains or anywhere near that height to get into trouble in bad weather.
I would agree with several of the other comments tho'...
azrael - your right mate - let the snobs get on with their snobbery - we're there for the hills,
and
sam - like you, I'd rather be carrying extra gear than not enough - summer or winter - "best laid plans of mice and men" and all that.

Not in Scotland no. The only Munro I've attempted in winter was the Buachaille during which I turned back as I was scared by the avalanche conditions on the Coire na Tulaich (ie the place that killed those three guys were killed recently). Afterwards I climbed up the mountains on the other side, the slopes leading up to the Aonach Eagach Ridge, where I experienced whiteouts. However I have done Snowdon via the Pyg Track in February, which was very straightforward (though I did have an ice axe and very simple crampons), and also some hiking across snowfields in the Atlas (Jebel Toubkal and the twin Ouanoukrim summits), and in very heavy snow conditions in Yosemite where I used snowshoes.
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Re: Novices on Mountains

Postby mountain tortoise » Tue Feb 17, 2009 7:24 pm

I like the "5 hours up and 3 hours down bit". Sounds just like me. I have my own little way of decided if I should do a route. I have a safety limit. Weather permitting. Sadly it is not being over equiped or looking at the view that slows me down I am just plain slow.
Summer - 8 miles, 3000 feet of total ascent, and no spark pointy places.
Winter conditions - 6 miles, 2500 feet of total ascent.
So you can all work out where I will never get. I never do The Snowdon Horseshoe or Ring of Steall but to mention only two.
My husband can do about double this and has done all the Sharp Pointly places, he is a mountain goat.
I think it might be worth mentioning that this couple were talking about Grib Coch as someone had told them this was a great route. Fortunately they could not find it on the map.
I agree the Pyg track is very straight forward and it would be within my winter limit and I have in fact done it that way.
But I would be reluctant to take someone up there on a day like Sunday as there first walk. They would see nothing and be very miserable. If you are going to have your first intro to walking far better to want to do it again. I did take some friend up Cwn Tryfan and back tdown to Capel Curig at the end of October last year. Blues skies and beautiful snow, they all loved it and want to do it again and importantly they all survived. We did not climb any big mountains.
We have created an image were people think the only worth while walking is up to the top of big mountains. I have walked hundreds of miles in Scotland but only go up sometimes, but that does not make it any less enjoyable.
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Re: Novices on Mountains

Postby Myth » Wed Feb 18, 2009 12:38 am

mountain tortoise wrote:I like the "5 hours up and 3 hours down bit". Sounds just like me. I have my own little way of decided if I should do a route...Summer - 8 miles, 3000 feet of total ascent, and no spark pointy places....
So you can all work out where I will never get. I never do ... Ring of Steall ... I have walked hundreds of miles in Scotland but only go up sometimes, but that does not make it any less enjoyable.

It is good to know and understand one's limits, and to be prepared, but I suspect that the undercurrent in this thread is (generally) right:
- Experience tends to over-equip or be excessively cautious.
- Inexperience invariably under-equips or is obsessively bold.

I've got a a place now (with the kids both in their teens, finally) where I can cut back on my pack size, but even so, I only need one hand and my nose to count the Munros we summited last year without my 4man survival bothy in my backpack (and four of them were on the Ring of Steall!). It only came out once, but hey... We also haven't used the whistles I insist everyone carries, or the first aid kit, space blankets, survival bags (although it has saved me once!), emergency mint cakes and cereal bars, or the torches, penknive and spare top I also habitually pack. But one day, I may need them - chances are not for my party either!

And given my party, Tortoise, I'd suggest that the Ring could fit within your parameters (on a good day) if you start at the top park, go round clockwise, and then wait at the lower car park for pick-up after coming off the last hill to NNW, rather than NE (which is a b*****r). The Devils ridge lower opt-out only has one step that I felt was exposed, and the rest of the scrambly bits are three good points of contact all the way round. But as I said - it's good to understand your own limits!
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Re: Novices on Mountains

Postby mountain coward » Wed Feb 18, 2009 8:23 pm

I'm afraid I totally disagree with Monkey about Snowdon and people saying Snowdonia doesn't really have a proper winter. Everywhere has had a proper winter this year with serious snow and ice - even the Yorkshire Dales and the Lakes. The point with Snowdon is that, for a large part of the year, between about November and April, there is hard-frozen snow and ice on at least part of the paths. When you consider that there is no route up Snowdon which doesn't have a narrow section of ridge above huge clogwyns (crags), I would say it's a very serious mountain indeed in winter conditions - there are far easier Munros etc. Snowdon is my favourite mountain but there are many, many times I've gone to Wales specifically to do it but not gone when I've seen that the conditions are well above what I can do. Incidentally, many of those times have coincided with serious accidents on the same day and multi-rescues.

I think it's entirely up to people what they do with their lives but will still offer advice if I think someone is unaware of the risks they are taking. Having said that, I do feel sorry for mountain rescue teams in the popular areas as they are inevitably the ones who get to deal with the ill-equipped walkers. I agree with those who've said it's better to be over-equipped than under-equipped as you can just leave the stuff in your bag if you want. But I also agree there is a definite 'hierarchy' perceived amongst hill-goers by many - I'm probably guilty of that myself (although I see myself as very low down the order). I think it's just part of some people's competitive spirit - I'm personally very competitive.
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Re: Novices on Mountains

Postby cjwaugh » Wed Feb 18, 2009 8:32 pm

Well put mountain coward you obviously know your own limitations very well and act accordingly no matter how competitive you are ,if only more people were of the same disposition maybe our MRT guys would have less to do :)
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Re: Novices on Mountains

Postby mountain tortoise » Wed Feb 18, 2009 10:39 pm

I agreed with Mountain Coward about Snowdon. There are narrow sections on all the paths which will be icy. I was up on the Berwyns in the snow last week and I used my ice axe and crampons at the top even though they are not very high or mountainous. The important thing to remember is even on a gentle slope you can slide very fast down on an icy snowy bank.
I think one of the problems with Snowdon (Ben Nevis too) is the number of people. Novices see all the people and think if they are here it must be fine not realising that the other people are thinking the same of them. It gives a false sense of safety. I heard of a family who went up Snowdon today in trainers. They are fine and did stop when it got icy and turned around. The forecast for today was good and I certainly would have gone up today, in fact I am takin g a friend up Arenig Fawr tomorrow. But they had not bothered to look at the forecast and had no idea if it was going to stay the same all day. They could have been in trouble if the weather had deteriorated.
A good example of novices not taking heed is the sign at the bottom of Nevis Gorge. I have been up Nevis gorge heading off trekkimg many times over the years and the path is now so safe it is boring even for me. But why oh why do I still see people taking kids up there in flip flops and crocs. Kids regularly die there.
I am not in favour of a nanny state and think people should be allowed to do as the wish, but how do we get people to heed very simple basic advice.
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Re: Novices on Mountains

Postby MidgeFodder » Wed Feb 18, 2009 11:47 pm

Monkey Wrote
Not in Scotland no. The only Munro I've attempted in winter was the Buachaille during which I turned back as I was scared by the avalanche conditions on the Coire na Tulaich (ie the place that killed those three guys were killed recently). Afterwards I climbed up the mountains on the other side, the slopes leading up to the Aonach Eagach Ridge, where I experienced whiteouts. However I have done Snowdon via the Pyg Track in February, which was very straightforward (though I did have an ice axe and very simple crampons), and also some hiking across snowfields in the Atlas (Jebel Toubkal and the twin Ouanoukrim summits), and in very heavy snow conditions in Yosemite where I used snowshoes.


Heavy snow in the Yosemite may be one thing but winter in Scotland is a pretty tough beastie. your comments about Snowden in winter seem a little harsh and perhaps misguided. Snowden may well be an easy hill for most in winter conditions if you have the right level of fitness, experience and most of all equipment. The problem is that people read comments like your post and think the same.
I commend the initial post as i have been in the same position giving advice to others. I was on Carn Ban Mor a couple of years ago in full winter gear in absolutly horrendous conditions heading back from Mullach Clach a' Bhlair when the mrs and i encounterd a group of very ill equiped twentysomethings. They were quite shocked to see what we were wearing and were not quit sure where they were or where they were heading too. We politley advised that they would be better to head back down the track from where that had come up. We got a terse **** *** for our troubles. Shocked at the time but still wouldnt stop me from giving the same advice if i thought that it was appropriate.
Two of the party headed off into the distance in the completly wrong direction for Monadh Mor.
Not much you can do in those situation other than hope that they get back ok.
Please dont underestimate winter hill walking.
cheers
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Re: Novices on Mountains

Postby azrael » Thu Feb 19, 2009 6:21 pm

mountain tortoise wrote:A good example of novices not taking heed is the sign at the bottom of Nevis Gorge. I have been up Nevis gorge heading off trekkimg many times over the years and the path is now so safe it is boring even for me. But why oh why do I still see people taking kids up there in flip flops and crocs. Kids regularly die there.
I am not in favour of a nanny state and think people should be allowed to do as the wish, but how do we get people to heed very simple basic advice.


I've been up and down this track many, many times. Quite walkable in most footwear, maybe not high heels though. :lol:

I'm also very tuned to Scottish news about the outdoors and frankly I don't clearly remember the last child fatality here - it certainly doesn't happen "regularly".

If it did we'd probably end up with a situation like the Bruar Falls gorge which the council have fenced in to protect us all from ourselves.

People smoke themselves to death, eat themselves to death, drink themselves to death, drive dangerously etc. etc.

Why obsess about people ignoring best practice/safety in the outdoors....they ignore it everywhere else :shock:
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Re: Novices on Mountains

Postby mountain tortoise » Thu Feb 19, 2009 10:13 pm

Why obsess about people ignoring best practice/safety in the outdoors....they ignore it everywhere else :shock:[/quote]
Fair enuogh it was May 2008 the last child to die. But may be it is time to let this one go to bed.
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Re: Novices on Mountains

Postby LeithySuburbs » Thu Feb 19, 2009 10:37 pm

I'm skipping the "say hello" page and just diving in here for my first post. I do like a good debate/discussion and this topic always includes a little luke warm repartee.

What we are talking about here is an old-fashioned idea known as common sense. My first proper hillwalk was on Beinn a'Ghlo and, TBH, I was not properly prepared for it. Yes, I was fit and young and healthy but I simply did not have the experience to take on a reasonably stenuous walk (3 munros, 14 miles). I had no map, compass, ran out of water on BCCB (munro 2), and fell in a bog on my pathless return :lol: . However, I got back to my car having thoroughly enjoyed the whole experience (fortunately it was a glorious summer day). Hopefully, I have not repeated any of the above mistakes since.

My point is that we all have to start somewhere and, if I do see a group obviously underprepared, I give them the benefit of the doubt and trust that, if the going/weather gets tough, they will turn back. I wouldn't give them "the lecture" as it would probably be thrown back in my face. Having said that, we all owe it to the MRS to apply "due diligence" (to use a currently popular term) when we take to the hills and I would agree that Snowdon in winter is probably not the place to start.
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