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Should I have intervened?

Should I have intervened?


Postby DomBoyd » Sun Nov 08, 2020 6:47 pm

I was up at the top of Ben Macdui yesterday, and kind of wished I hadn't bothered with the detour as the walk in from Derry lodge where I'd camped had been blissfully peaceful over Carin a Mhaim. My intention was to skirt south of Macdui and continue round to Derry Cairngorm without bothering to visit a possibly busy summit. However, the weather was perfect and I thought I'd take advantage. I was right, about the busy summit, and more than a little disappointed. I overhead one chap asking another 'I just want to check - is this the summit?'. Perhaps somewhat judgemental of me but my first thought was 'if you can't determine the summit of the second highest peak in Britain, then should you be up here?!' He went on to say he'd followed two other walkers in order to arrive there.

I really don't like to get into a discussion about who has and has not the right to be in the hills but I found myself wondering if I should have posed that question to him.
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Re: Should I have intervened?

Postby mynthdd2 » Mon Nov 09, 2020 10:38 pm

That’s a good question ie when to intervene or not.....I would suggest ‘yes’ but diplomatically? For example show them your map and maybe the merits of being better prepared may sink in with them in potentially more challenging conditions - but definitely a good point.....
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Re: Should I have intervened?

Postby LobeyD » Mon Nov 09, 2020 11:19 pm

"I just want to check - is this Ben Macdui?" possibly, but not "is this the summit?".

If the summit is a bit flat and broken (as Macdui is) or the route is fairly obvious and the map hasn't been generally required, it's not that weird just to confirm it. After all as Donnie Campbell proved, there's some fairly impressive 'not-summits' out there that can confuse the very experienced.
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Re: Should I have intervened?

Postby iain_atkinson_1986 » Tue Nov 10, 2020 12:02 am

Sounds like the guy is just starting out hillwalking so I don't see how taking a condescending attitude towards him is helpful. Pointing out the route back and telling him to get Viewranger or OS Maps for his phone wouldn't be putting you out.
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Re: Should I have intervened?

Postby AHillTooFar » Tue Nov 10, 2020 12:31 am

Ben Macdui is not exactly a dramatic summit being a plateau if my mind serves me right. Sure it has the stone with the various points of interest marked but it is quite rocky and not that good a summit.

So perhaps it was more of "is this it?"

I have one memory of Ben Macdui, a cloud rolling over when I was there and me tucking my map inside my jacket to avoid it blowing about and following a couple of people off the summit...down the north face towards Cairn Gorm when in fact I meant to go down the east slope to get back to Linn of Dee.

So even though I had a map and compass, I still blindly went down the wrong side till I started to think something was not right.

It is also not a one off event where I will follow a path/deer track in some direction till I eventually check where I am and it won't be the last either.
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Re: Should I have intervened?

Postby Kinshusrst Kid » Tue Nov 10, 2020 1:14 am

It matters not if the guy was a beginner or experienced. Checking where you are at an obvious point is a sensible thing to do, even on what appears to be an obvious summit on a clear day. It then becomes a good habit for when things aren't so good.

On many a summit in such conditions I will have been heard to say to my wife " pass me the map please, I want to check where we are". Probably did it on Macdui.

Did you observe how he made the check? Was he competent at doing it? Are you really sure YOU were at the summit of Macdui?
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Re: Should I have intervened?

Postby Caberfeidh » Tue Nov 10, 2020 5:15 am

MacDui is a big broad heap of rocks at the summit, no wonder he asked. I once struggled up a vast peak on Arran, and asked the folk at the top; "Is this the summit of Goatfell?" I nearly collapsed when they replied, "Oh no, that's it away up there...", pointing to a distant and far more lofty peak. :shock: If they had grumpily demanded to know if I had any "right" to be there I would have kicked them in the couloirs.... :shock:
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Re: Should I have intervened?

Postby WalkWithWallace » Tue Nov 10, 2020 9:04 am

Ach, in the beginning I went out with limited skills. You've got to start somewhere, unless they're speaking to you directly I don't think you should intervene.
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Re: Should I have intervened?

Postby DomBoyd » Tue Nov 10, 2020 9:07 am

All fair points, thanks for replies. Perhaps the crowded summit after the morning of solitude affected my tolerance levels!
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Re: Should I have intervened?

Postby al78 » Tue Nov 10, 2020 10:52 am

Caberfeidh wrote:MacDui is a big broad heap of rocks at the summit, no wonder he asked. I once struggled up a vast peak on Arran, and asked the folk at the top; "Is this the summit of Goatfell?" I nearly collapsed when they replied, "Oh no, that's it away up there...", pointing to a distant and far more lofty peak. :shock: If they had grumpily demanded to know if I had any "right" to be there I would have kicked them in the couloirs.... :shock:


Whon said anything about questioning rights? The question was about whether someone should be on a hill in they cloud if they lack sufficient experience and/or equipment to be able to locate the summit and make their own way up without following someone else, not questioning his (legal) right to be on the hill. I find it very tiresome when people play the human rights card when someone questions the responsibility of an action/choice as though rights mean throwing away any requirement to think, it is so American, and the less of that we have to deal with the better. Remember, just because you have a right to do something, doesn't mean you should.
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Re: Should I have intervened?

Postby Scraggygoat » Tue Nov 10, 2020 1:07 pm

On a perfect day (as indicated) there is no reason for concern, and certainly no need to intervene or be judgemental about their presence. I've long had a policy of leaving alone in most situations, but helping if requested.

We should be very careful about suggesting 'others' shouldn't be 'there', as it sets a precedence, which when asked of our own activities we may lose against wider public opinion.
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Re: Should I have intervened?

Postby Navvarr » Tue Nov 10, 2020 1:20 pm

We've all been there, in my early days my wife and I would set off with the intention of climbing a particular Munro and end up having a row as to which one we were to head towards.

Something as simple as Ben Vorlich or Meall Greigh I can remember wondering if it was 'that one'.

I remember setting of to climb Ben Sgulaird and climbing a neighbouring peak by mistake, had to descend and get back on track for the summit, got there in the end.
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Re: Should I have intervened?

Postby Giant Stoneater » Tue Nov 10, 2020 1:34 pm

In the Dolomites at a bealach with a mega signpost pointing towards various routes, a German and his wife asked about directions to a mountain hut which i thought strange as it was marked on the signpost. After explaining it to him he still did not believe me that he still had 4km to walk to the hut,he kept saying it should be here and showed me his map.It took me roughly 20mins to convince him by showing him my map (which was a bigger scale) and pointing out features that were all around us and talking it through with him, and even then he still thought i was wrong but they did head off in the right direction.
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Re: Should I have intervened?

Postby goth_angel » Tue Nov 10, 2020 1:54 pm

A few points spring to mind here. Firstly he asked someone else not you. That said, had it been me up there I might have confirmed that it was and asked if he needed any help or to look at my map. We all had to start somewhere and TBH I think taking the 'hillier than thou' attitude of questioning his presence on the hill would have been rude.

A while ago in the Lakes I met a couple with a map who had clearly gone wrong and were unsure where they were. Turned out the hill they thought they had climbed wasn't the one they were actually on (they had gone the wrong way round a 2 hill circuit). They ended up joining me for the walk as it was the best way to do both hills they were after and they bought me a drink afterwards to say thank you. Seems a result to me.
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Re: Should I have intervened?

Postby ChrisButch » Tue Nov 10, 2020 2:29 pm

See The Ascent of Rum Doodle for the ultimate example.
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