Posted by & filed under Mountains & hills, February 19 2007.

There’s been a lot of talk on the news recently about safety in the mountains, prompted by several deaths in the past few months in the Coire an t-Sneachda area of the Cairngorm mountains. Yes, there’s no question that people die in the Scottish mountains, especially in winter, and even if they have all the right equipment, experience and training. But the arguments and discussions seem to lack perspective. People die doing all sorts of things, from riding a bike to painting their house. To remove all risk from one’s life is utterly pointless.

I often drive along the A9 when I go walking in the Scottish mountains, and in my view that is far more dangerous than anything I might actually do on the mountains when I get out of my car. Yet no-one seems to question this.

I recently attended a professional mountaineering course which was an eye-opener. It taught me several things:

1. Sometimes guides don’t get it right.

2. When you pay money for a mountaineering course, tell them in detail what you want for your money, and what you want to learn.

3. Going into the mountains with your own agenda and goals, at your own pace, and knowing your own limits, is way more preferable than being guided.

3 Responses to “Safety in the mountains”

  1. Eddie

    More statistics:

    “an estimated 60,000 people will be on the hills on a typical winter weekend day. According to Dr Bob Sharp, a former sports scientist who monitors mountain rescue incidents, there are on average 32 fatalities on the Scottish mountains each year. Every one is an individual tragedy but comparatively, the number is very small. There are, for example, an average of 170 drowning deaths in Scotland each year.”

    From the Sunday Herald:

  2. Eddie

    My blog is 2 years old this week, and I thought I’d revisit my posts from the start of the blog to see if any of my opinions or thoughts have changed since then – for this posting, I can only say that my experiences since have strengthened my depth of feeling about the three points I have listed here.


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