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Novices on Mountains

Novices on Mountains


Postby mountain tortoise » Mon Feb 16, 2009 12:01 am

Yesterday I was in Betws Y Coed shopping for a new trekking pack. Not out on the mountains as usually because the forcast was poor and it was very foggy and no fun. We stopped for a cup of tea in the Royal Oak and over heard a young couple talking. They had just bought their first map and were learning how to read it and what the symbols meant before planning to climb Snowdon today. It was clear they had never been walking before and had no idea what climbing Snowdon in February would mean.
I decided to have a friendly chat and explained what it would be like at the top of Snowdon today. I also pionted out that 2 people who were poorly equiped got killed on Snowdon last week. I suggested a couple of low level very nice walks they might try instead. They were very polite said thanks for the info but he said he had come to Wales to climb Snowdon and so was going to do it. I hope they are alright.
How do we get across to people like that the danger they place themselves and others in by such ignorance.
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Re: Novices on Mountains

Postby Caberfeidh » Mon Feb 16, 2009 9:46 am

You have made an observation as perennial as the hills themselves, O Tortoisey One! As you pointed out, an explaination doesn't help, they wont be persuaded. They will learn eventually when they come a cropper on the hills, with a bit of luck they'll survive and learn from the experience.Otherwise, it's more body bags for the MRT. We get that a lot in Scotland; people come a long way and spend a lot of time and money so are unwilling to admit that conditions are not suitable. At least it winnows out those too stupid whose genes the human race could do without, and organs are in constant demand for transplant...
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Re: Novices on Mountains

Postby druidsam » Mon Feb 16, 2009 1:57 pm

i've seen people like that(usually on ben lomond) how they survive to adulthood is a mystery :roll:



..................................Sam
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Re: Novices on Mountains

Postby Matthew C » Mon Feb 16, 2009 4:26 pm

Should we start a "Darwin" style award for these stupid irisponsible idiot's ?
We all know the risk we take going out on the hills & most of us know when to call it a day, Ok accidents can and do happen, this has not been a good start to the year with the number of people killed. Responsible walkers thank God that the MRT's are there and hope they never need them. But IDIOTS like this are beond belief !!!

P.s.
Nice idea on the organ donation, but I think the time (death <=> transplant) would be tight ?
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Re: Novices on Mountains

Postby Monkey » Mon Feb 16, 2009 6:35 pm

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. I read a comment over on UKClimbing.com, the gist of which went like this, "the Trail readers wearing £1000 worth of gear walking up the pig track on Snowdon, and sneering at the day-trippers in jeans and trainers, don't seem to grasp that they're the ones who look out of place." Once again, I know that snow and ice changes the game somewhat, but you don't need to be an elite mountaineer to climb Snowdon by the pig track even in winter.
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Re: Novices on Mountains

Postby azrael » Mon Feb 16, 2009 6:39 pm

Strangely enough MR stats very clearly indicate that although a lot of calls come from the inexperienced, the actual injuries and fatalities strongly favour the experienced.

Winter climbing, climbing and scrambling fill up the majority of these incidents with hill-walking remaining pretty safe.

Also, unfortunately or otherwise, hill-walking favouring the 25-60 age group means your "idiot" may have already bred so they may be removed from your biosphere but not necessarily your gene-pool. :wink:
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Re: Novices on Mountains

Postby Monkey » Mon Feb 16, 2009 6:44 pm

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. I read a comment over on UKClimbing.com, the gist of which went like this, "the Trail readers wearing £1000 worth of gear walking up the pig track on Snowdon, and sneering at the day-trippers in jeans and trainers, don't seem to grasp that they're the ones who look out of place." Once again, I know that snow and ice changes the game somewhat, but you don't need to be an elite mountaineer to climb Snowdon by the pig track even in winter.

Here is the exact quote (by Mr X, some way down):
http://www.ukclimbing.com/forums/t.php?t=339336

"Just go up Snowdon and take a look at the Trail readers negotiating the Pyg Track with technical axes, crampons, £1000 of clothes droning on and on about ill equipped walkers, when really they are the people out of place."
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Re: Novices on Mountains

Postby azrael » Mon Feb 16, 2009 6:52 pm

I'd certainly agree that most hill-walkers are over prepared for most hill-days. Just think how much in your pack is rarely/never used.

Of course if you're out a lot it's worth preparing for less likely eventualities.

The trick is to recognise that the "jeans and trainers brigade" (as I've heard them described) are actually taking little risks on popular paths in spring/summer/autumn, and seasoned walkers are carrying far more than is likely to be required.

The game does change in winter somewhat but it remains the case that serious incidents favour the experienced getting unlucky or the partially experienced over-reaching.
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Re: Novices on Mountains

Postby Monkey » Mon Feb 16, 2009 7:04 pm

Unfortunately I think there's a lot of snobbery in our sport (that is, mountaineeering / hillwalking / climbing). The elite professionals at the cutting edge, the kind that pioneer new routes on virgin faces etc, and half of whom seem to die in pursuit of their ambitions, look down upon the next level down who use too much protection, or who climb established routes with fixed ropes (unethical etc), who in turn look down upon the weekend mountaineers, who in turn look down upon those on non-technical routes, who in turn look down upon hillwakers, and so on. There's a ridiculous pecking order. This seems to be unique to this sport. After all no one sneers at amateur tennis players simply because they're not at the level of Roger Federer or Rafael Nadal, ditto football, and indeed most other sports. Though I have some sympathy for what Mr X says, his post also exemplifies this unpleasant snobbery. What's wrong with Trail magazine? I think nothing. Trail magazine provides a good introduction for beginner hillwalkers, with some articles pitched at the more experienced (eg Liathach winter traverse in one recent issue), and I don't think they're irresponsible at all. Now I dare say this couple that Tortoise saw were unaware of the potential dangers, but let's not indulge in the very kind of snobbery that others, higher in the mountaineering pecking order than ourselves, would direct towards mere hillwalkers like us.
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Re: Novices on Mountains

Postby azrael » Mon Feb 16, 2009 7:25 pm

Don't recognise any pecking order, and don't care if others see themselves as better than me - I'm out there to be out there, not seek others approval or dole out any of my own.

I do think the outdoors community as a whole, tends to grossly overplay safety issues and use it as a stick to beat people with.

Thankfully as my average people seen per hill day count hovers around 2-3 I don't have to worry about most of this stuff :D
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Re: Novices on Mountains

Postby thenobz » Mon Feb 16, 2009 7:43 pm

i dont think there is enough info passed on for each hill in bad conditions. some of the steeper hills with cliffs can have very icy paths. just use common sense.
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Re: Novices on Mountains

Postby mountain tortoise » Mon Feb 16, 2009 7:54 pm

It is interesting to hear what you all have to say. Just to clear one thing up I regularly lead walks for the Edeyrnion Ramblers and have recently done a map reading course for them. I believe very strongly in getting people out there. If there is a pecking order in hill walking/ climbing I am definitely near the bottom end. I love walking and trekking have climbed some Munros etc. but because I know my limits I do not go up the sharp pointy places. Snowdon yesterday did have snow but the main risk was ice as the 2 people who left off last week discovered.

I just wonder how we can encourage people to enjoy the mountains and stay safe?
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Re: Novices on Mountains

Postby azrael » Mon Feb 16, 2009 8:03 pm

I just wonder how we can encourage people to enjoy the mountains and stay safe?


I'd let them get on with it.

Brave of you to approach others with advice like that. I'm not criticising you. :)
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Re: Novices on Mountains

Postby Paul Webster » Mon Feb 16, 2009 9:20 pm

I don't know that much about the winter in the Welsh mountains and certainly aren't an expert in winter skills myself. I agree there's some elitism in hillwalking and that many walkers you see are often over-equipped, particularly in summer.

BUT I still think that in winter Snowdon is a steep and serious mountain in spite of all the paths, people and trains - and it requires alot of respect. An ice-axe and crampons are needed if there is snow on the ground. Snow that was soft and seemed safe and easy in the morning could be icy by the time of your descent if weather conditions change; in any case an ice axe is essential to arrest any slip. If the couple you mention had never even read a map before and were going to attempt the highest mountain in Wales when it is sheathed in ice - then you are quite right to warn them.

At the end of the day its not a question of what gear you have or even what mountaineering skill or experience you've got. What everyone needs, whatever their level, is enough experience to be able to judge whether or not what you are doing is safe or not for them on the day. Snow-covered mountains and complete novices = not safe.
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Re: Novices on Mountains

Postby druidsam » Mon Feb 16, 2009 11:49 pm

just a thought.. i had to take lessons and a test to drive my car and the law forces me to wear a seat belt and have insurance, i had to take more lessons and another test to ride my bike and the law forces me to wear a helmet and insure that vehicle seperate from my car even though its only possible to use one vehical at a time, but i could wander into the hills in winter in a pair of shorts and T shirt and nobody has the power to stop me :? and then expect the mountain rescue to come and get me free of charge :? :?

i suppose i probably fall into the category of over equipped when i go into the hills , but i would rather have extra weight on my back than get caught out in conditions i wasnt prepared for.

remember the boy scout motto :wink: which way did the girl guides go :lol:

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