/ In winter, a compass without a map...
Four walkers were rescued last night after getting lost after reaching the summit of Beinn Ime in the Arrocher Alps.
After reaching the summit at 4.30 pm the group spent an hour wandering around in high winds and poor visibility until they decided to stay put and call the emergency services. Two MRT's from Arrocher and Strathclyde Police searched the hill and located the group near the summit. They were very cold but uninjured. A RAF chopper managed to fly in very poor conditions and took them off the hill.
Media stories about unprepared walkers and climbers seem to be common place these days and this group seems to be an example of this.
A member of the group did have a compass but didn't know how to use it. No map, axes or crampons or any torches. They did have a group shelter which probably saved the day.
The group were all in their forties but inexperienced in winter. There is no doubt the group appreciate the efforts made to help them so hopefully lessons have been learned and the next time they head into the hills they will be better armed.
Who amongst us haven't made a mistake on the hills or taken a risk when we ought not to have.
What boils my piss is in the mass media and public consciousness all these mountain 'accidents' get lumped into the same category.
After the Feith Buidhe tragedy questions were asked in the house about regulation of mountain sports, giving power to people to stop people going out in certain conditions. Thankfully these were rejected as impracticle and undesireable but in todays H&S environment who's to say these questions won'r be asked again.
As much as I try to remain nonjudgemental about incidents like this , the laziness and arrogance to head out without a map and ironwork in these condition really pisses me off and, in the eyes of the public and media, reflects poorly on our whole community.
more like a crampon without a boot!
Seems to me the problem with the group described is that nobody knew how to navigate anyway.
Mountaineering is all about calls of judgement re what you do and don't need, and whether you're experienced enough for your objective or not, and we all get it a little wrong sometimes.
Unfortunately incidents like this not only put their own life's at risk, but impact on more serious genuine accidents, when limited MRT and helicopter resources are used up...
A map would have been as useful as a crampon in summer! ;)
Admittedly this was in spring though rather than winter, but the point's valid I think.
But there are never any situations where having a compass alone is as useful as having a compass and map ( and knowing how to use them ).
> We hadn't carried a map as it was impractical to carry en route, we did however have a compass.
Eh? How hard is it to stuff a map somewhere. Were you climbing naked?
Just to be clear, I do think carrying a map as well as compass when winter walking is usually a very good idea.
It's a pain in the arse when you've got windproof and trainers hanging off of your harness and water and headtorch etc in your pockets. Especially when it's totally unnecessary under the circumstances.
> But there are never any situations where having a compass alone is as useful as having a compass and map ( and knowing how to use them ).
I thinkthere are. Take a simple example. you can get off or across Kinder plateau pretty quickly if you head either North or South and pick up the path on the other side. On the plateau itself the map is pretty useless because everything looks like everything else.
Sometimes you just need the capability of maintining a bearing for a mile or so.
> Unfortunately incidents like this not only put their own life's at risk, but impact on more serious genuine accidents, when limited MRT and helicopter resources are used up...
This is true, though how would you solve the problem - apart from a media campaign to educate people on being properly equipped, which we already have?
The first people to climb on the Avon gorge (in the 19th century I think?) were arrested for endangering the rescue services, or suchlike. (I don't think they needed rescuing). Should Avon never have been developed as a climbing venue?
So there is a map, you just don't have it with you :-)
What happens if your planned route isn't possible for some reason (massive cornice above the descent gully, unexpected storm makes progress in that direction unfeasible)?
> Just to be clear, I do think carrying a map as well as compass when winter walking is usually a very good idea.
True, but a map can be handy in finding a way through the crags along the edge. I was up there on Sunday and navigating from memory, but got the map out for the descent from the edge.
> We hadn't carried a map as it was impractical to carry en route, we did however have a compass.
Sorry, could you elaborate I'm not sure how it is impractical to carry a map.
Do you not think it is possiblem that you would misremember a bearing, take a 180 degree incorrect bearing, lose or break your compass, break a leg or see someone fall on another route and have to give a grid reference or some other mishap where you have to re-evaluate your position?
it may have worked for you in the past, and may well do in the future but surely carrying the map is a worthwhile insurance policy?
Certainly not advocating not having map and compass (although I'm guilty of navigating over Kinder once or twice based on wind direction!). If you had to have one or the other, though, there are plenty of times when a compass alone is more useful (and usable) than a map alone.
A map is only useful for this sort of thing if you actually know where you are. In crap visibility on featurless terrain when your compass is broken the best you can hope for is to give a grid reference of where you aren't !
The problem is more about knowledge and experience than equipment IMO. If its all about equipment you would never let a fell runner out of the car park.
As I said above we were already fairly loaded down. It's just another thing when your pockets are already bulging with water etc.
I could well have got my bearing wrong, I've mistakenly read 'high tide' as 'low tide' on several occasions. I'm hardly saying I'm infallible. I'm not sure how a map would have been any help in had any of the situations that you mentioned actually arisen, as it was totally dark and there was very little visibility. Once we had successfully navigated off of the hill with the compass, via the remembered bearing & gully etc, we got back to our bags on the moor which held the map. We didn't get the map out of the bag as as I said it was useless. All we could make out were a couple of hills & since we knew what these were the map was of no use.
It was still an epic and we had to retrace to the summit to check we'd walked correctly on our bearing to make sure we were dropping into the right gully, then walking over the drumlins (or whatever they're called) on the way out was tricky too, but again there's no way a map would have helped.
I'm not saying it's best practice, just that in respect to the point that a compass is always useless without a map - I think that's incorrect. :)
fair enough, if i'd bothered reading your post properly i'd have noticed the getting dark bit and i agree with the final sentence.
We're all guilty of skim reading on here sometimes I think! :)
> We're all guilty of skim reading on here sometimes I think! :)
I would never dream of skin reading - retract that statement sir!!!... :-)
I was doing that on Sunday - works well, and helped me spot an "unplanned detour" after we'd dropped off the plateau and I stopped concentrating @)
There are many more where the opposite is true though so if forced I'd go for the map-only option :)
Now, how many people take a spare map in case they drop their main one? ;-)
I'm genuinely quite surprised here that people think that a map might be superfluous to requirements if you are lost in featureless terrain. If you can navigate properly, (and even the best navigators misplace themselves) you can use the map to relocate, even in pretty featureless terrain.
The poster who seemed to think that their relocation problems on a summit in the dark and the snow would not have been helped by having a map doesn't make any sense to me. Obviously wasn't there but I'm quite incredulous. If you are looking for a tricky gully, timing, pacing etc all come in to play. You can memorise this stuff, but having a map means that your catching features and tick features are all there in front of you.
In that circumstance a map is as essential as any other piece of outdoor gear. I'd be leaving the water bottle behind tbh. Also in the modern age a small laminated print out doesn't take up more room than a cereal bar.
the fact they stayed put, rather than wander off into god knows where and also had the sense to have a group shelter shows some initiative surely,and hand on heart who on here could say in a situation like that even with a map and compass navigation could be quite challenging.
as far as im aware they were not wearing t_shirts and flipflops..lesson to be learnt yes ,but don't slate them!imo
That's all he's saying..
All he wanted was a compass to check the direction.. makes sense..
I've headed out a number of times with just a compass, and no water bottle..
If you know the area those catching and tick off features are in your head..
Not sure he did know the area, and he admits having issues on the top. Sounds like a doh moment to me.
I know my local area extremely well but always carry a map. I use it most often to show lost tourists where they are and how to get down safely.
I'd have to be very sure to only have a compass, though.
I'm working on the assumption that it's all just theoretical chat, and that nobody would really head out into the hills without both.
Threw one in at the last minute which was an old one, with bits scratched off..
But can honestly say I didn't take a map on 99% of times I was on in Snowdonia at night in winter..
When I won the Peris horeshoe fell race I ran with the black mountains or somewhere map in my bumbag..
It was my back garden..
He thought he knew the area.. just didn't..
> I'd have to be very sure to only have a compass, though.
I'd run Eilio and Foel Goch 50-100 times a year, well over once a week, probably did them 300/400/500 times in my six and a half years in Snowdonia..
I find it strange people are ranting on one thread about freedom to access hills.. on another one about what to take..
People should take what they need..
Surely a compass is just a tool to help you use a map to it's full potential. The map has all the information you need, the compass allows you to transfer what's on the map to what you're seeing more easily but isn't essential. (white out's aside)
If I had to choose one I'd go for the map every day of the week. (unless there was a blizzard) They are also lighter and less prone to breaking.
Whoever said the top of Kinder is featureless isn't looking hard enough.
> I'm working on the assumption that it's all just theoretical chat, and that nobody would really head out into the hills without both.
I hope you are right! But the link posted above shows what complacency can do for experienced hill goers.... A lot of MR callouts start with a complacent attitude, or ignorance- novices read stuff on forums and take it for best practice. MR teams will always be there for people in trouble in the hills, but a significant proportion of callouts can be attributed to bum decisions through either ignorance or complacency. Its not our place to judge, but we do have a responsibility to advocate best practice.
> I hope you are right! But the link posted above shows what complacency can do for experienced hill goers.... A lot of MR callouts start with a complacent attitude, or ignorance- novices read stuff on forums and take it for best practice. MR teams will always be there for people in trouble in the hills, but a significant proportion of callouts can be attributed to bum decisions through either ignorance or complacency. Its not our place to judge, but we do have a responsibility to advocate best practice.
Is that really the case?
Most call outs recently, and deaths especially, seem to have been just tragic accidents.. I remember talking to a local MRT in llanberis about how few actual call outs there are on the llanberis path where most of the totally inequipped on snowdon are..
But you are judging..
I'd say the guy wasn't experienced.. if you have experience you know what really knowing a mountainous area is.. if I couldn't recount most rocks or terrain on the route I'd not think I knew the area.. as it is I could talk my way through most routes in Snowdonia that I'd run..
You're probably the exception that proves the rule :-)
The one thing that I did used to think about was what if I found someone injured and had to give a GR for a rescue.. but then I figured they'd have a map..
I've certainly helped many people, normally D of E groups to relocate using their maps..
If I was leading the Thursday runs I used to fairly regularly take a map and a phone.. as then I was the organiser, so assumed leader, and as the ML in the group, I think you do take up responsibility then..
I would disagree with your assessment of the avoidabilty of recent fatalities, but I'm not prepared to comment on individual cases for obvious reasons. I also am drawing on my own experience as a member of my local team to make comments about bum decisions. I admire people's sense of adventure and the spirit in which they head in to the hills, so no, I'm not judging, but I'm aware of how for many people, cutting corners can lead to big big problems. Nobody is infallible and there are a few decisions in my own past I would seriously question now.
As a fell runner I almost think that you are a special case, as traveling light is part of your adventure, and as you say, you run the same routes over and over again. You are taking a calculated risk, but I see that as quite separate to a general discussion about not carrying maps in the hills for average hill goers in unfamiliar terrain. I don't normally need a map on my local hills, but I carry one to get a GR in case of an incident, and as I said, because I invariably end up chatting with someone on the top of a hill who wants to know the quickest way off but hasn't a map of their own.
Similarly, I’ve been on the Ochils via the southern slopes pretty much every week for the past 15 years and in the last dozen of those years the number of times I’ve taken either map or compass is probably in single figures. Don’t think I’d be doing that if they weren’t covered in fences, mind you – and on the rare occasions when I go at them from the north side I will take map and compass, ditto with pretty much every other hill outing elsewhere.
We all make risk assessments.. that's an integral part of climbing/being in the mountains, probably our most important skill.. sometimes we get them wrong, we've all done that at some point, learn from that experience and over time get less calls wrong..
I just think we live in a sedentary society, with poor understanding of environmental concerns, the more people out in the hills the better, and we all have to start somewhere..
I remember one of the first times I was out on my own on the glyders, I must have been 17 or so, totally lost on what seemed to me featureless terrain.. and just heading south and dropping down crags into the pass.. I got out.. learnt a lesson..
but the whole point of most of what we carry into the hills is so that we'll be OK if things do go wrong (whether a sudden deterioration in the weather, or an injury). It doesn't make sense to argue that since nothing normally goes wrong it's OK to leave all your kit at home.
I do dislike this system of criticising people for rescues, I know Snoweider is saying she isn't but it sounds like that.
It's like climbers soloing.. normally they don't use the rope, the rope is just a safety blanket in case something goes wrong, yet for some they opt to take that risk for lightness, ease. They make the call. Yet we don't see soloers overly criticised.
They'd studied a map in advance.
They knew how to take and walk on a bearing.
They were able to pace approx 500m to the broad SE shoulder, then take another bearing down the easy-angled southern flank.
In short, if they'd had a plan. Instead the compass appears to have been carried as a magic talisman - it ain't.
> They'd studied a map in advance.
> They knew how to take and walk on a bearing.
> They were able to pace approx 500m to the broad SE shoulder, then take another bearing down the easy-angled southern flank.
> In short, if they'd had a plan. Instead the compass appears to have been carried as a magic talisman - it ain't.
This what bugs me about fell running..
The rules are all about equipment.. take a map.. take a compass..
Many, maybe even half of fell runners could not get a bearing..
Obviously they are still great items of kit to carry, but I don't think its pushed that they should be able to actually use them things..
At least now the FRA run the nav courses.. but I'd still like it more aggressively/clearly emphasised on entry forms with kit lists..
I think this link here is a brilliant example of MR teams gently advising and encouraging but not judging inexperienced and under equipped walkers: http://www.grough.co.uk/magazine/2013/01/27/winter-climbers-and-walkers-keep-ogwen-valley-rescuers-b... (read through to the lads lost on Tryfan)
I do think its important to point out to people the error of their ways, but equally, we've all been there and the hills are there for all of us.
We can all get caught. When I looked after a bothy the local shepherd told me once that the previous week he had a night out on the hill as he could not find his way off. No navigational equipment other than the memories of working that hill for 50 years.
Once things have gone wrong, sometimes calling out a rescue is the right call, yes it should be/could be avoided.. but you can end in a position where a call out is the actual best decision..
And I'm sure MRTs would rather go up late at night and collect 2 young lads who have been overly keen and stuck on a ledge then go up the next day retrieve two bodies from the base of a crag..
You can only learn from mistakes once you've survived the mistakes..
Not just males- but yes, you've hit the nail on the head there.
A friend (female) reckons that women are far more likely than men to ask for navigational help on the hill, and my own experience is along the same lines. Incidentally, re having/lacking a map, by some distance the most lost person I’ve ever met on the Ochils was standing beside the summit cairn and trig point on Ben Cleuch. He had with him not only a map but also one of those numbered point-by-point illustrated guidebook printouts which included a picture of said cairn and trig point with instructions on what to do next. By his own admission he had no idea where he was, but sensibly asked the first person he’d met all day – me – although he still seemed oddly clueless and I felt afterwards that I should probably have walked him down rather than having my lunch and then carrying on with my own plans.
You did an orienteering course without a map? How did you know where the controls were?
I'm pretty much guaranteed to meet someone who hasn't a scooby what they are doing on ridge north of Goatfell every time I go up there. It attracts a certain type of hill walker who isn't really a hill walker but who sits in their house in Ayrshire looking at the hill for a few years and then decides to climb it. Good on them for having a go but they have no idea at all, and I'm absolutely amazed that we have so few callouts- generally people do actually get away with it.
My most disconcerting encounter with lost people was at the top of Aladdins Couloir in the Cairngorms . The conversation went like this:
"Do you know where you are " my husband "yes- do you?"
"No" "We are at the top of Aladdins Couloir" "Not possible- we left there 2 hours ago"
It seems they'd walked in a great big circle down in to Coire Raibert and back up again. Surprisingly easy to do.
With my Ochils bloke I asked him which way he wanted to go, and it was to follow his point-by-point route round the natural loop over Ben Ever and back to either Alva or Tillicoultry. (He’d got to Ben Cleuch via the Law, but had taken over four hours to get there – no snow or ice – so that was curious in itself. He was very well equipped from what I could see – had a compass in his hand – and was a perfectly fit looking teenager.)
So I pointed him west, but rather than saying to use the obvious path that cuts diagonally across the plateau suggested the can’t-go-wrong handrailing option along the fence. After about five minutes this reaches a junction, and I twice said to him “Whatever you do, when you get to the junction, don’t cross the fence.” He nodded like he understood, but quarter of an hour later, after lunch, I set off much the same way and there was no sign of him, nor for the rest of the walk where I had various lines of sight once dropping out of the cloud. I’m pretty sure that when he reached the fence junction he crossed it – which opened up all manner of scope for meanderings in the complicated country on the north side.
When I got home, I did something I’ve never done before – emailed a couple of contacts in the local MRT, not to call them out, but to give them the heads-up just in case. Neither they nor I heard anything more, so presumably he eventually got down safely – but it was a bit worrying.
The poblem is, as it always is and will be, is that our rescue services are put at risk and being wasted on such people...So, lets remidy that by making there be an initial call out charge. This charge can be cancelled after rescue and upon investigation into the circumstances.
I would pay and I am sure many other proper outdoor enthusiasts would be more than interested in giving back to the rescue services after using them, whether they were made to or not.
What do you think?
Financial concerns should never be a factor in making a decision on whether to call out a rescue..
If you want to give to the rescue services do.. they are still there, with running costs, whether we use them or not..
Donate to MRTs by all means, but the teams are there because they want to help people in trouble in the hills- and that means everyone, no matter what misadventure has got them there. The mountains are for all of us to enjoy, and we can all contribute to mountain safety by encouraging, training and educating people on how to minimise the risks and enjoy hills in safety.
There is no MR team member who would begrudge heading in to the hills to rescue someone in difficulty. We have a proud tradition of access to the hills and voluntary rescue services that are free to those in need and that must never change. Whats more, as a voluntary service, based on the personal commitment of team members, MRT is a lot less bogged down in the sort of H+S nonsense that plagues some of the other rescue services, which means they can get out there and be effective in hazardous conditions, actually saving lives. Long may it continue.
Most times I bring two: a print off covering my route and another larger scale 1:50 for the area.
I've had the wind catch and take my map more than once.
Then again I always carry two head torches & two compasses.
Yep- if I'm out on my own and expecting to nav, I'll have 2 of each. Lost a map to the storm once in the dark on the top of a hill. A proper oops moment.
Even if I have just the one compass on me now its something I keep in mind..
At the time I was on the conville course so not a huge issue..
Memorised their location from the master maps (remember them?). So I used a map, just did not take it round with me.
I'd be cautious about arguing that people on the hills should be charged for being ignorant and stupid.
By whose definition?
In the eyes of a lot of the public, anyone who tries that rock climbing malarky is stupid.
Ha ha yes, my lost map moment was on my ML training night nav ex so there was a bunch of us, but still... I felt stooopid for not having a spare.
> After the Feith Buidhe tragedy questions were asked in the house about regulation of mountain sports, giving power to people to stop people going out in certain conditions. Thankfully these were rejected as impracticle and undesireable but in todays H&S environment who's to say these questions won'r be asked again.
The same applies to people setting out to sea unprepared. Legislation has been considered in the past and rejected on the grounds that "unprepared" is too subjective an opinion, and condtions are too variable.
EG is a fell runner in light lycra in a summer storm "unprepared" when everyone else is bundled up in waterproofs?
There was a guy who set off twice from Dover in a bath tub bound for the USA. Both times the Coastguard issued warnings which he ignored and both times he was duly rescued by the RNLI after an hour or so. There is nothing to stop this sort of thing happening over and over again
Here is what can happen in the land of non-free SAR: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-19633623
The guy's insurance paid for one day of SAR and then called it off. Luckily he had mates who pulled together and raised the much needed cash and he was found alive and pretty well considering.
Does that matter? So long as these incidents account for the minority of callouts, they're not a serious problem. As far as I remember from reading mountain rescue logs, the majority of callouts in Borrowdale came from perfectly well prepared people who had twisted an ankle or had a heart attack while walking on the fells.
There must be some mountain rescue bods on this thread so please correct me if I'm wrong. If the idiots are starting to take up the majority of your time, and are causing the highest risk to the lives of MRT teams and others, then it's a problem.
But otherwise I can't help but feel our society is enriched by people who try to cross the Atlantic in a bath tub.
Hmm... if it's true it's very impressive. My club does map memory exercises where maps are only attached to the controls and it's very, very hard to keep all that information in your head and that's only one control at a time. Control number, desription,route, OOBs, attack point for 10+ controls? Are you a human satnav?
So on a walk in the Lake District at this time of year, do you always carry:
Full first Aid Kit with splints etc.
Hot food / drink
etc. etc. ?
I know I don't and I don't think I'm one of your "such people".
"Fully equipped" to me is to have the experience to know what to leave behind (most of the above, normally)and nothing to do with whats in the pack.
> EG is a fell runner in light lycra in a summer storm "unprepared" when everyone else is bundled up in waterproofs?
I think what people fail to grasp is the runner probably has no expectations of lasting out the storm..
Light weight gear is great, but it's not as good as the heavier gear, all you do is buy yourself time to use your advantage, which is speed off the hill..
And yes if you get injured its bad. I've often worried alot again about fell runners blind trust in thin paclite goretex.. the matra 'get injured, get your gear on and wait for help'..
If a runner was lay still, on a cold ground, vest shorts, covered in pertext bottoms and top, even a thin water proof layer, they'd still be in the shit.. marginally less maybe..
But its why if you have any doubt just run off, yeah you may do more damage to the injury but hyperthermia kills, not sore ankles..
Is this how Cornwall was colonised then?! (sorry)
> If a runner was lay still, on a cold ground, vest shorts, covered in pertext bottoms and top, even a thin water proof layer, they'd still be in the shit.. marginally less maybe..
> But its why if you have any doubt just run off, yeah you may do more damage to the injury but hyperthermia kills, not sore ankles..
It's happened. Top female runner (name escapes me) died, on an event I think, in the Lakes some years back.
Look at the guy posting about his bergen lost this weekend.. had sleeping bag, survival bag, so weight down he dumped it and left it near bristly ridge..
No, but you still need to do a dog-leg to get onto it; if you go due south from the summit you get onto steep ground. And if you didn't know that you were going due south (because you didn't understand a compass) you might assume (in a white-out) that you were headed for steeper ground to the north and east.
They definitely did the right thing by staying put at a known point, and thankfully the group shelter did the rest. I'm pretty sure that the MRT would have been glad that they didn't worsen the situation by blindly stumbling downhill and risk walking off an edge they couldn't see.
Nevertheless, the decision to ascend in poor viz with no navigation equipment was an incredibly poor one.
Having no safety or emergency equipment when out in the hills is bad especially if inexperienced and/ or incompetent. These people need to be advised and educated as they endanger themselves and SAR.
Having all the kit in the world but you don't know how to use it is bad. I've seen someone sitting in the rain wrapped in a plastic bothy shelter as opposed to actually sitting in it because they didn't realise 'how it worked'. Their words. I've seen AA roadmaps being used instead of OS maps.
Having a minimum of safety equipment but a wealth of knowledge and ability is excellent. Minimum needs to be adequate and neccessary. Look at the requirements for mountain marathon teams, essential basics but the minimum to save weight.
Having all the kit you need and a wealth of knowledge and experience probably means you are SAR/ MRT out looking for someone fitting the description of the first two or someone who has had an accident or mishap. These happen. And i for one always donate to rescue teams when i'm out and about, i haven't needed them yet but with my general lack of ability/ fitness and clumsiness i'm a rescue waiting to happen.
Can i get a cheer for MRT/ SAR/ SARDA plse :-)
I declined politely, apologised for my idiocy and skated across the summit like Bambi.
If you knew how to use these then surely you could go with confidence? Poor visibility is common.
It's just a ridge isn't it?
Not as demanding as somewhere without such clearly defined contours (eg Monadh Liath). Anyway, that's all part of the fun, gradually gaining the experience so you can confidently go out in such conditions :-)
No less than anywhere else in a white out except maybe the Cairngorm Plateux. Following bearings from known points is fairly straight forward, particularly on ridges and where there are lots of features, including getting lost in the Cuillin after compass mistakes and human error. Once we took stock of the situation, found out exactly where we were we navigated off among boilerplate slabs with considerable effort and the satisfaction that when the push came to shove we knew what to do. And I am by absolutely no means an expert navigator. I still crap myself sometimes in the Cairngorms Plateux and have by no means earned my wings up that neck of the woods.
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