/ NEW ARTICLE: Mountain Accidents and Media Sensationalism - An Expert's View

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UKC Articles - on 15 Feb 2013
Another mission for the RAF helo, 3 kbThe recent cluster of winter mountaineering accidents in the Scottish Highlands has filled the national media, and there have been predictable calls to regulate and restrict hill-going. Mountain Rescue expert David 'Heavy' Whalley fights our corner using the solid statistical facts that the media seem unable to research for themselves.

Read more at http://www.ukclimbing.com/articles/page.php?id=5258
wilkie14c - on 15 Feb 2013
In reply to UKC Articles:
Where do I apply for a summit permit for Tower Ridge for next winter and do I need to hire a liaison officer?
Chateauneuf du Boeuf - on 15 Feb 2013
In reply to UKC Articles: It seems odd that so much media attention is given to 20 deaths a year when thousands of people will die every year in Scotland before their time simply because they've been unfortunate enough to be born into poverty.

The press should stop flogging a non-story and start actually investigating real issues. As an aside its interesting to note that the snowiest year in ages (2010 with shed loads of snow well into may then again in November/December) actually had less fatalities than in 2011.
psychomansam - on 15 Feb 2013
I presume people would also be required to have private insurance to eat products from deep fat fryers?

To be fair, the Scottish government tends to be a bit more sensible than the central one, so I'm not too worried for now. It'd be yet another good racket for the mega-corps and bankers though (as well as schools, education, transport, policing etc which have already been privatised). The privatisation of the choppers is doubtless intended as a step in this direction.
switch - on 15 Feb 2013
In reply to psychomansam:

I appreciate the aim of the article, to defend free access, but I think it gives Dorothy Elder too much credit - she's a freelance journalist with no mandate and no credibility on this subject - The BBC couldn't find anyone with any democratic mandate to speak for the 'let's regulate' side of the argument. Why? Because no-one with any sense and any public responsibility thinks it's wise or realistic to regulate pedestrian access.

Let's face it, we're just in a quiet news week. As another example, we're still hearing about the 'low-grade meat found in cheap meat products' shock story, which has little surprising about it, other than an endless supply of horse-related puns!

Next!
IainRUK - on 15 Feb 2013
In reply to switch:
> (In reply to psychomansam)
>
> I appreciate the aim of the article, to defend free access, but I think it gives Dorothy Elder too much credit - she's a freelance journalist with no mandate and no credibility on this subject - The BBC couldn't find anyone with any democratic mandate to speak for the 'let's regulate' side of the argument. Why? Because no-one with any sense and any public responsibility thinks it's wise or realistic to regulate pedestrian access.
>
> Let's face it, we're just in a quiet news week. As another example, we're still hearing about the 'low-grade meat found in cheap meat products' shock story, which has little surprising about it, other than an endless supply of horse-related puns!
>
> Next!

I think thats spot on..

quiet news week.. make something out of what has happened.. in danger of giving such views far too much credibility..

Its not like its any official body or representative group, National parks etc requesting this..
ccmm on 15 Feb 2013 - host86-136-0-163.range86-136.btcentralplus.com
In reply to UKC Articles: radio Scotland out of doors is doing a piece tomorrow starting 0630 am about avalanches. They're also looking at the mountaineering community's reaction to the sloppy bbc reporting earlier in the week.
ERU - on 15 Feb 2013
Can I just say thank you to the author/s of the article. Well done.

In reply to Craig Mc:
> (In reply to UKC Articles) radio Scotland out of doors is doing a piece tomorrow starting 0630 am about avalanches. They're also looking at the mountaineering community's reaction to the sloppy bbc reporting earlier in the week.

Make sure you provide a link ... if there is one :)
Only a hill - on 15 Feb 2013
Milesy - on 15 Feb 2013
Great article
jacobfinn on 15 Feb 2013
Clearly programmes like Call Kaye are all about getting a discussion going. Basing the discussion on fact is not the point for the producers - they want an interactive radio phone in. It is meant to be sensationalist.

However, is there something that we, the climbing and walking community, could do ourselves to improve our own chances on the hills. I am sure that most people heading for the Scottish hills check the SAIS and MWIS before heading out. But... how many of us have actually been on an avalanche awareness course or a mountain skills course?

As Dave W says, even someone like him with all the experience that he has accumulated, still learns something new every winter season.

I am totally against anything that will restrict my access to the mountains in winter (or even in Summer), but perhaps we should all consider updating or getting the skills and training to equip us for winter?
langar27 - on 15 Feb 2013
In reply to UKC Articles:
Avalanche transceivers? Were any of these unfortunate people wearing them? Are they normally worn in Europe? Training courses? Just seems amongst all the back and forth between media and mountaineers regarding saftey, nothing much mentioned regarding them. Maybe I didn't research enough. But I know in Canada you would have more chance of winning the lottery then meeting someone in the mountains not wearing an avalanche transceiver. Would love some feedback on this..Great article!!
feepole - on 16 Feb 2013

> The press should stop flogging a non-story and start actually investigating real issues.

Three people have died. Those deaths are made all the more poignant by the fact that the victims were linked with two institutions at the very heart of mountain rescue in the UK - the RAF and Glenmore Lodge.

This follows all to soon after the last multiple fatality incident. Whatever this may be it's not a non-story.

I didn't manage to listen all that closey to the Call Kaye programme mentioned in Heavy's article, but what I did hear was one rather unconvincing columnist pitched against three extremely knowledgeable mountaineers, who articulated their points with great clarity - the host playing devil's advocate.

It is unfortunate that the programme got the figures wrong, but neither -from what I heard - did any of our bunch pick up on that. Heavy does make a good point raising those figures in the article. (I hope he has passed these onto the BBC and other media outlets, as it's a really important point)

Anyone who doesn't believe that the general public have these kind of questions in their head following a tragedy in the mountains needs to perhaps widen their circle of friends. Like I suspect many of us, I have spent much of the last couple of days answering questions such as 'Why the were they out there anyway? - there was snow!' 'Who pays for these operations?', and most commonly 'why does anyone put themselves in this position?'

The media unfortunately needs to ask the questions the public want answered. I think that (in the broadcast media at least) things have moved on a long way in the reporting of mountain accidents in the past 20/30 years (the interview earlier that morning on Radio Scotland's Good Morning Scotland programme was with Hamish McInnes, and was very calm and measured).

The task of the mountain community at a time like this is to continue to argue against knee-jerk reactions, to explain our love of the hills and the importance of managed risk throughout our lives. Those who took part in this programme on our behalf did this, I thought, extremely well. Heavy himself is a great advocate for mountaineering. It may at times be frustrating, you may sometimes feel like you're speaking to a child, but the job of educating the public is very much in our hands. The means by which we do this - the media - may be flawed in many ways, but I don't think it does us any good to jump to our own knee-jerk reactions.



ice.solo - on 16 Feb 2013
In reply to UKC Articles:

thats a nice looking line in the photo with the heli. can someone tell me what/where it is?
summo on 16 Feb 2013
In reply to UKC Articles: castle ridge, I think.
Michael Gordon - on 16 Feb 2013
In reply to Chateauneuf du Boeuf:
> (In reply to UKC Articles)
>
> As an aside its interesting to note that the snowiest year in ages (2010 with shed loads of snow well into may then again in November/December) actually had less fatalities than in 2011.

Yes, that is interesting. The latter half of the 09/10 season, though snowy, had a lot of relatively settled weather so was quite safe on the whole. The main exception to this was of course when significant snowfall came (the Buachaille tragedy). Perhaps the stop/start nature of some years is conducive to more incidents than snowy but more consistent winters?
Simon Caldwell - on 16 Feb 2013
In reply to jacobfinn:

> how many of us have actually been on an avalanche awareness course or a mountain skills course?

One of those killed this week was on a mountain skills course. There have been several other accidents in recent years involving people on courses, guides with clients, etc. People following the advice to learn, to gain experience before heading out alone.

Of course that's not to say that education is pointless - I've been on several courses and will no doubt go on several more. But we need to avoid giving the impression (as some recent coverage has done) that those involved have been inexperienced, or lacking in knowledge, or not local - in most cases this is not the case.
fmck - on 16 Feb 2013
In reply to UKC Articles:

Maybe a large part on these accidents is due to the fact people are traveling a good distance on a pre booked trip.

The temptation to just get out no matter what appears to be there. I suppose there are not many folks going to go walking up a wee safe Graham peak when their surrounded by Munro peaks they haven't done yet.
Simon Caldwell - on 16 Feb 2013
In reply to fmck:
This is often said and may sometimes have a bearing, but if you look at recent incidents it doesn't seem to be borne out.
Paul035 - on 16 Feb 2013
In reply to feepole:

Really good points you make. Like others, I get wound up by the coverage, but thinking about it many non-mountaineering people genuinely don't understand why someone would go into the mountains in winter. They only hear about the accidents, not the thousands of great experiences people have in the hills in winter every day.
summo on 16 Feb 2013
In reply to langar27:
> (In reply to UKC Articles)
> Avalanche transceivers? Were any of these unfortunate people wearing them? Are they normally worn in Europe? Training courses? Just seems amongst all the back and forth between media and mountaineers regarding saftey, nothing much mentioned regarding them. Maybe I didn't research enough. But I know in Canada you would have more chance of winning the lottery then meeting someone in the mountains not wearing an avalanche transceiver. Would love some feedback on this..Great article!!

Quite common in Scandinavia too. The merits of tranceiver are endless, they cost less than many pairs of axes, but are better for you than a helmet, a helmet will only safe you, transceiver could save you, your climbing partner or somebody you come across whilst out on the hill. Add into this a small shovel or two in the party, you are really onto a winner, both will still be lighter than your lunch and flask!

Even if you are the only person in the party with a transceiver it's still worthy carrying it and turning it on. If you are unlucky and get wiped out, you can guarantee that those arriving on foot, or quite quickly if picked by the helicopter will all have transceivers, you are just stacking more odds in your favour.

Granted, they are not a substitute for good mountain skills and route choice though.
fmck - on 16 Feb 2013
In reply to Toreador:

We're the glen Coe avalanche and recent Cairngorm fatalities from down south?
mountain_stephen - on 16 Feb 2013
> In reply to Toreador:

>> In reply to jacobfinn:
>> how many of us have actually been on an avalanche awareness course or a mountain
>> skills course?

> One of those killed this week was on a mountain skills course. There have been several
> other accidents in recent years involving people on courses, guides with clients, etc.
> People following the advice to learn, to gain experience before heading out alone.

> Of course that's not to say that education is pointless - I've been on several courses
> and will no doubt go on several more. But we need to avoid giving the impression (as
> some recent coverage has done) that those involved have been inexperienced, or
> lacking in knowledge, or not local - in most cases this is not the case.

Spot on. Watching the news last night my wife was quite disturbed when it was announced that one of the deceased was on a winter skills course at GL. The thought being that it could have been me on any of many occasions when I've been at GL or PyB on a course, let alone when I go off climbing without a professional. Don't take this in any way as a criticism - every course I have ever been on has taught me so much and the instructors I've come across have all been outstanding (whether training me at GL or PyB or just bumping into them out on the hills). The fact is that you can manage the risks as best you can with all the skill and experience you have but there is always going to be an element that is just going to be down to bad luck. It is not as if Roger Payne was inexperienced on the hills.

My thoughts go out to everyone who is affected by this.
fiarach - on 16 Feb 2013
In reply to feepole:
>
> It is unfortunate that the programme got the figures wrong, but neither -from what I heard - did any of our bunch pick up on that. Heavy does make a good point raising those figures in the article. (I hope he has passed these onto the BBC and other media outlets, as it's a really important point)
>
I agree that this is not a non-story and that a knee-jerk reaction on our part is not helpful, however I listened to the Call Kaye program and one of the participants (can't remember which one) did during the programme put them right on the statistics but they continued to misquote them.

It is also my understanding from things I have read elsewhere that Dorothy Grace Elder was given the correct information prior to the broadcast.

Despite all of this the incorrect figures were again aired during Scottish Newsnight several hours later.

Simon Caldwell - on 16 Feb 2013
In reply to fmck:
Two of the Glencoe casualties lived in Scotland.
NickK123 - on 16 Feb 2013
In reply to UKC Articles: Thanks for input Heavy. There are risks in everything one does and whether it is crossing the road or winter skills training the risk is never zero.
Tony Naylor on 16 Feb 2013
In reply to UKC Articles:
"Heavy's opinions carry some weight"

<applause>
In reply to Tony Naylor: I thank you
dirkversfeld - on 18 Feb 2013
A strong and important posting from David Whalley. I was involved in a fatal accident on Skye in May 2011, an accident that resulted in the less of my life partner, Tessa Cousins. Others were injured and the RAF were brilliant in their rescue efforts. We were in Scotland because I had climbed there in 1986 and particularly wanted Tessa to experience the special freedom of the hills that Scotland and its people provides. Whilst our loss has been immeasurable I cannot regret our reasons for being there. The attitudes of those assisting us, and patching me up, were only supportive - reflecting too that others who may not be able, or even want, to go into the mountains gain spiritually by knowing that we are out there experiencing our world. almost as if it is on their behalf. That is a generosity of spirit we should never close down.
mmalbon - on 18 Feb 2013
In general I think climbing and mountaineering get a rough deal on popular media such as television. I've seen lots of programs about death on such a mountain and terror on another mountain. I'd like to see climbing treated as a serious sport where achievement is documented and celebreated rather than focusing only on disaster.
Mungo Shuntobox - on 18 Feb 2013
Here's a bit of quick n dirty research from Google:

1,900 deaths per year on the UK's roads in 2011; all RTAs in one year cost us the public about £15.6 billion.

Obesity contributes to 30,000 deaths per year, costing £2.5 billion per annum.

8,790 alcohol related deaths in 2010; alcohol abuse now costing the NHS £2.7 billion per annum.

31 deaths in a year, dealt with by a totally volunteer service with help from the RAF, but basically at zero cost to the public. The MR Team I was a member of runs on a budget of c £27,000 per annum; and that's all charitable donations if anyone didn't actually know.

So you can buy enough alcohol to kill you all in one go for a tenner, buy a car that can do three times the UK speed limit, or eat yourself to death if you really want. But because these are majority activities, no one wants to appear as Mr Killjoy and clamp down...

Sadly ladies and gentlemen, we are a minority, and as such, many people don't understand what we do, and we therefore become an easy group to target. Well done Mr Whalley and everyone else who has stood up to be counted. make sure you do the same!

mb35 - on 18 Feb 2013
In reply to UKC Articles: I see today's news is running the "didn't they think about the hurt it would cause their parents if killed in this activity?" angle.

My answer would be "Better to be doing something you loved, than killed in a freak accident on the roads, or from a terminal illness etc."

I have told my parents exactly this and that they should not kick up a fuss were I to have an accident. I would urge you all to do similar.
mav - on 18 Feb 2013
In reply to UKC Articles:
Dorothy Grace Elder can't help herself.
http://www.thinkscotland.org/thinkpolitics/articles.html?read_full=11951&article=www.thinkscotla...

Just as a taster, 'Must Scotland become a sort of outdoor Dignitas for healthy, fit people?'
rob from scotland - on 18 Feb 2013
In reply to blanchie14c: Not much chance of being avalanched on Tower Ridge - the main problem is likely to be your choice of descent route.
rob from scotland - on 18 Feb 2013
In reply to dirkversfeld: Very sorry to hear about your sad and - totally random and unpredictable - loss. Every time a rock falls you think - "Whoops!" and most timesa you get away with it. I lost my old buddy and climbing partner Tom Shaw last year omn Skye, at far too young an age (early 50's) of another random killer - a totally unexpected heart attack. That, as they say, is life. At least he died doing the thing he loved, who knows, it could have been mowing the lawn.
MelH - on 18 Feb 2013
In reply to jacobfinn:
> Clearly programmes like Call Kaye are all about getting a discussion going. Basing the discussion on fact is not the point for the producers - they want an interactive radio phone in. It is meant to be sensationalist.
>
>

Call Kaye is well known for its one sided reporting and sensationalism. Kaye Adams is also pretty well known in certain circles for backing one side of an arguement, with complete lack of any evidence, and attempting to shut down anyone who is trying to use actual fact to refute her nonsense. I have absolutely no time for her show, and I don't think we should acknowledge it as being a serious debate.

ste-raw - on 18 Feb 2013
In reply to mav:
Can't believe her irrational and somewhat stupid view points. If I remember rightly a simple heart attack or illness on the hill can sometimes count as a mountaineering fatality, so again another poor job from the bbc research team.

One thing that I completely agree with in the article is that the mountaineering community is doing very well as it is.


jacobfinn on 18 Feb 2013
In reply to mav: Perhaps she would like to tackle obesity, smoking and alcohol related deaths in Scotland (numbering in the 000s per annum) before getting stuck into mountaineering fatalities.

Or perhaps these deaths are part of even bigger money-spinning industries than tourism?
jacobfinn on 18 Feb 2013
In reply to mav: It would be worthwhile responding to the article in their comments section. It's a scary article. All UKC users should respond to her.
Martin W on 18 Feb 2013
In reply to jacobfinn: It looks like John Rushby (aka Nevis the Cat) already has. I'll see if I can think of something to say that isn't likely to get blocked by their moderators...

In reply to mav:
> Dorothy Grace Elder can't help herself.
> Just as a taster, 'Must Scotland become a sort of outdoor Dignitas for healthy, fit people?'

It's difficult to believe that someone so spectacularly ill-informed, and who chooses to express themselves in such an despicably unpleasant way, is allowed out in public never mind being given a platform in the media.
Disco_climber - on 19 Feb 2013
In reply to UKC Articles:
There are so many things that could be suggested to improve safety in mountaineering, lets build a wall around all the mountains and you can only get in if your being guided or a guide, or lets go on all the courses that are out there, maybe we need to buy all the most advanced expensive equipment going.

But that's not the point of sports like mountaineering.
Now I am not saying people should be taking unnecessary risks or putting themselves or others in danger, but this type of sport is described as adventurous activities for a reason.

And that is that there is a risk involved with this adventure, that risk needs to be managed. If you have the skills to identify the hazards involved with a situation and ensure measures are in place to effectively manage that risk then you have done that is 'reasonably practical' to avoid a misadventure.

As for the media they will depict what ever they want the viewer to see, and unfortunately at the moment its that mountaineering is dangerous and needs controlling. Which is a typical reaction to something that they don't understand. It was possibly not by accident that the statistics were misquoted as the figures that were shown pose as much stronger evidence to support their case. This media bashing of outdoor sports really started with the reports of kayak and canoe deaths over the last few years especially the ones with families and children involved.

Education is really the only way to help our cause. This includes educating the public, the media, and participants of outdoor sports. The public and media to show that we partake in sports with managed risk, we are not just blindly wondering off into the wilderness. Participants of our sports so they are better equipped to deal with situations should they arise but more so that they can avoid being in that position in the first place.

"You should ever only put yourself in as much trouble as you know you can get yourself out of!"

Here's a question for you what's more dangerous rock climbing, Surgical anaesthesia or pregnancy?

http://www.hse.gov.uk/education/statistics.htm
MalcolmMac - on 19 Feb 2013
In reply to UKC Articles:

Avalanche Transceivers and companion rescue training have to be seen as a winter essential. I am biased, as I'm in a Scottish mountain rescue team and have been for the last twenty years, but even before that I was "educated" into them as I got involved in ski touring. Most ski tourers/ski mountaineers use them, or at least wouldn't argue that they should be using them, but as most of you would concede few winter walkers or climbers have them. Leaving aside specifics about any incidents this winter it just makes good sense to always use them during winter. As a rescue team we don't leave the base on training or call-outs without ensuring everyone has their's on and working and I do the same when I'm out recreationally. The local mountaineering shop hires them out and has done so for years; but I know few rent them for use in this country. We've a world leading avalanche information service, libraries' worth of tales and anecdotes about hill conditions going back to the dawn of mountaineering yet the basic message that avalanches do occur in Scotland and that companion rescue for many victims is their primary hope of survivial seems to be overlooked or ignored by so many winter mountaineers. What do we do about this as a mountaineering community?
walkunicef2013 - on 19 Feb 2013
In reply to UKC Articles: Some things are down to chance and risk and we choose to do them at our own peril, more people have died slipping on icy pavements this year than on the mountains of britain.
Will i need a permit to go out to the shops in ice? couch potatoes rabbling on with uneducted views AGAIN!
Mungo Shuntobox - on 19 Feb 2013
Hmmm

guys if you have time to look at her article ad make a response please

http://www.thinkscotland.org/thinkpolitics/articles.html?read_full=11951&article=www.thinkscotla...

Firearms owners suffered the same sort of idiocy in the past - let's make sure those who love the outdoors don't become next on the list of knee jerk fecktards who are just looking for the next political axe to grind to keep themselves in a job.

There's been some very honest opinions here from those who have loved and lost in the hills - and I'll join you. If the worst happens to me on a mountain, I've died doing what I love in a place that I love.

John Rushby - on 19 Feb 2013
In reply to Martin W:

Apparently, next week she's going to try and ban disabled gun owners from eating horseburgers.

After that, probably why Peppa Pig is the work of Satan.

She's been measured, she's been weighed and she's been found wanting by politics and is crying form the sidelines.
MalcolmMac - on 19 Feb 2013
In reply to Mungo Shuntobox:
Interesting article; but doesn't really attempt to understand why people do go to the mountains, or why there is a "vale of silence" as she puts it.
John Rushby - on 19 Feb 2013
In reply to MalcolmMac:

I've been to the Vale of Silence, it's near the Valley of Desolation.

She's a crank. Probably has lots of cats.
captain paranoia - on 19 Feb 2013
In reply to mav:

"Beaches are closed or fly red flags at danger times; planes won’t risk taking off in certain severe weather, so why aren’t even the avalanche areas closed at worst times?"

Whilst RNLI lifeguards might well put up their red flags, I'm pretty sure they have no legal status, so people are free to ignore them if they choose. Just as the RNLI volunteers are free to ignore anyone who gets into trouble if they ignore the red flags.

Frankly, the RNLI and their red flags act as a bit of a red rag to me, and I'm hardly surprised that DGE thinks that their attempted 'ownership' and regulation of beaches is a step forward.
Wainers44 - on 19 Feb 2013
In reply to captain paranoia:
> (In reply to mav)
>
> "Beaches are closed or fly red flags at danger times; planes won’t risk taking off in certain severe weather, so why aren’t even the avalanche areas closed at worst times?"
>
> Whilst RNLI lifeguards might well put up their red flags, I'm pretty sure they have no legal status, so people are free to ignore them if they choose. Just as the RNLI volunteers are free to ignore anyone who gets into trouble if they ignore the red flags.

> > Frankly, the RNLI and their red flags act as a bit of a red rag to me, and I'm hardly surprised that DGE thinks that their attempted 'ownership' and regulation of beaches is a step forward.

The comparison you draw is an interesting one, even though what you say about the RNLI is a bit mixed up. The "volunteers" tend to be lifeboat crew and supporters, beach lifeguards are generally paid employees of the charity. They are employed to guard the beach and are subject to the same terms re H&S at Work as anyone else employed. Whether or not they are free to ignore those who ignore the red flags I dont know...I can imagine its nothing like as simple as that and relates only to their own personal safety.

I surf fairly often when the red flag is flying and have never had anyone tell me not to enter the water. The lifeguards do sometimes come over and have a word of friendly advice to give me which is fine. I take the risk but only consider doing so as its beach/break I know very well, understand the risks and manage them.

The flags like em or not are a good way of conveying risk to the new commer/non local/unprepared grom who turns up. Tiny %age of beaches are guarded this way.

A similar system for avalanche risk awareness at the honeypots sounds bonkers at first....
Disco_climber - on 19 Feb 2013
In reply to Wainers44:
Red flags are displayed to warn that there is a danger relating to that beach, it could be any form of danger. beaches are commonly red flagged if there's waste being pumped out, a strong off shore wind, large or multiple rip currents, big waves breaking onto rocks, large blooms of jelly fish. The red flag indicates there is danger and means it is not advisable to enter the water, a lifeguard may still be present but they do NOT have to enter the water if you get into difficulty. Lifeguards will be more than happy to give you details of why the beach is red flagged. they will advise not to enter the water but they will not and cannot refuse of block your entry.

I agree that warning system regarding avalanche risk would be beneficial to those who would use it but, as MalcolmMac said there are Avalanche Transceivers that can be hired out from the mountaineering shop "but I know few rent them for use in this country" "We've a world leading avalanche information service, libraries' worth of tales and anecdotes about hill conditions going back to the dawn of mountaineering"

If people do not use these tools then we can have the best warning system in the world and it still will not work.

The thing is, you could go to a shop buy boots, a coat, a map and all the other equipment and just wonder off into the hills or mountains with no skills, experience or training at all. If someone decided to do that then what's to stop them? I agree it is unlikely, but its entirely possible.
Wainers44 - on 19 Feb 2013
In reply to Disco_climber:
> (In reply to Wainers44)
> Red flags are displayed to warn that there is a danger relating to that beach, it could be any form of danger. beaches are commonly red flagged if there's waste being pumped out, a strong off shore wind, large or multiple rip currents, big waves breaking onto rocks, large blooms of jelly fish. The red flag indicates there is danger and means it is not advisable to enter the water, a lifeguard may still be present but they do NOT have to enter the water if you get into difficulty. Lifeguards will be more than happy to give you details of why the beach is red flagged. they will advise not to enter the water but they will not and cannot refuse of block your entry.
>
> I agree that warning system regarding avalanche risk would be beneficial to those who would use it but, as MalcolmMac said there are Avalanche Transceivers that can be hired out from the mountaineering shop "but I know few rent them for use in this country" "We've a world leading avalanche information service, libraries' worth of tales and anecdotes about hill conditions going back to the dawn of mountaineering"
>
> If people do not use these tools then we can have the best warning system in the world and it still will not work.
>
> The thing is, you could go to a shop buy boots, a coat, a map and all the other equipment and just wonder off into the hills or mountains with no skills, experience or training at all. If someone decided to do that then what's to stop them? I agree it is unlikely, but its entirely possible.

In the context of the sea, yes I get all the potential risks...they are a few more besides.

Again, you are wrong when you say that if someone ignores the flag it absolves the lifeguard from responsibility to rescue. Quite the opposite in fact. The flag displays the fact that the area is patrolled and that there is a risk involved in entering the water (ie it recommends you dont). The Lifeguard is still there to effect a rescue by whatever safe means they can.

I must admit that I hadnt thought about it before, but I think that there is a debate to be had about maybe some form of displayed warning of avalanche risk in the most heavily used areas...whether its practical or useful I dont know but it has to be worth considering as well (as transceivers...helmets...etc)???

Wainers44 - on 19 Feb 2013
In reply to Wainers44:
> (In reply to Disco_climber)
> [...]
>
> >
> I must admit that I hadnt thought about it before, but I think that there is a debate to be had about maybe some form of displayed warning of avalanche risk in the most heavily used areas...whether its practical or useful I dont know but it has to be worth considering as well (as transceivers...helmets...etc)???

Shows how much I know about foreign ski resorts (ie nothing!)...many of them do this all the time already!
captain paranoia - on 19 Feb 2013
In reply to Wainers44:

> even though what you say about the RNLI is a bit mixed up

You may be right; the point is, that whether they're paid, or volunteers, there is currently no legislation that gives them the power to stop people going in to the water, so no, we don't 'close the beaches' (contrary to one speck of drivel in that damned article).

We might advice people not to go into the water when there is some perceived danger above some given threshold.

That level of intervention I'm quite happy to support, especially at honeypot beaches that have known problems with rips, etc.

Unfortunately, I've seen too many episodes of 'Beach Rescue' (etc) where the lifeguards decide to 'close the beach', and drive around telling everyone to get out of the water, even going into the water to damned near force people out; all rather officious. Provided the red flag means "enter at your own risk; we won't come to help you if you get in trouble", then I don't really have a problem.

Actually, I don't really have much of a problem at all, but I don't like abuse of power, and I don't like people using power they don't actually have...

And that damned article made me grumpy, and I was ranting at the wrong target. Apologies to any RNLI lifeguards...

> Shows how much I know about foreign ski resorts (ie nothing!)...many of them do this all the time already!

Yes, they do indeed... And, if the conditions are really bad, they close the lifts, although that's mostly due to the danger associated with operating the lifts in those conditions. If the avalanche risk is very high, and teams are out clearing, again, the lifts usually stay closed until this work is complete; not a good idea to have explosions and triggered avalanches when there are punters around.

I remember going up on a lift with an ESF instructor (coincidentally), and we saw some people skiing in to a huge bowl with obvious signs of avalanche debris. The instructor did a classic French shoulder shrug and basically said "well, if they want to kill themselves, that's up to them; we won't try to stop them, but we won't go and rescue them either..." Not sure how true that was...
mrfrostbite - on 20 Feb 2013
In reply to UKC Articles: A friend of mine was in the avalanche on Saturday 2nd and has allowed be to post his ordeal in my blog...

http://www.mrfrostbite.com/2013/02/10/aviemore-avalanches-and-an-oap-the-third-frostbite-report/

Scary stuff..!
scarface - on 20 Feb 2013
A great response by Dave W, the trick is to get it out to as many people as have been misinformed by the Dame.

Yes there is danger and risk in what we do, in my case due to lack of ability and knowledge, but i only venture into the white mountainous stuff after reading the forecasts and in the presence of trusted and capable friends.

There is more danger to our hobby from land grabs, access denial and windfarms than a half-baked ex MP and sensation seeking radio jock.
Martin W on 09 Mar 2013
In reply to UKC Articles: I despair. Another hack seems to have chosen the latest sad incident http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-highlands-islands-21725408 to put a shoulder to this creaky, wobbly-wheeled bandwagon: http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2013/mar/09/scottish-highlands-mountain-rescue

Condolences to all affected by today's tragic news.
Rampikino - on 09 Mar 2013
In reply to Martin W:

I think you may be doing the article an injustice. Sure the headline is unhelpful but Kevin McKenna dismisses calls to curb climbing with "Perhaps planting mines in the foothills to deter recalcitrant climbers was what she had in mind."

The article focuses more on ensuring Mountain Rescue is properly funded.

Just my view on it.
Jimbo W on 10 Mar 2013
In reply to Rampikino:

> I think you may be doing the article an injustice. Sure the headline is unhelpful but Kevin McKenna dismisses calls to curb climbing with "Perhaps planting mines in the foothills to deter recalcitrant climbers was what she had in mind."
>
> The article focuses more on ensuring Mountain Rescue is properly funded.
>
> Just my view on it.

Mine too.
Doug on 10 Mar 2013
In reply to Jimbo W: Seems to be a common problem in the Guardian/Observer that the headline (not written by the author) doesn't reflect the article - which in this case isn't bad
Martin W on 10 Mar 2013
In reply to Doug:

> (In reply to Jimbo W) Seems to be a common problem in the Guardian/Observer that the headline (not written by the author) doesn't reflect the article - which in this case isn't bad

Fair point. And there doesn't seem to be anything in the article to support the suggestion in the standfirst: "As a 12th climber dies in Britain's wildest landscape, one solution could be better funding for the mountain rescue services". I'm sure the MRTs would welcome greater financial resources but the article doesn't say anything about how that could actually have helped avoid the deaths which have occurred this year.

Perhaps I was having a bit of a knee-jerk reaction after reading the article's reference to: "esteemed Scottish newspaper columnist and former politician Dorothy Grace Elder". (Although that, too, contains evidence of poor subbing: her name is Dorothy-Grace Elder - and not Dorothy Grace-Elder, either, as I have seen elsewhere).

Or maybe it was some of the more moronic below-the-line comments which got me wound up.
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Doug on 10 Mar 2013
In reply to Martin W: having read other articles by the same journalist, I suspect the "esteemed" is more than a little ironic
mockerkin on 10 Mar 2013
In reply to UKC Articles:

> Don't worry about it. This proposition comes along every few years.
They can't ban winter climbing without banning every other dangerous sport,such as saying that my football team is no good.
The thing I don't like about this "climbing is dangerous" stuff in the press is when they say e.g. "They get themselves in danger and then expect others to risk their lives saving them"
They have no idea that to be a member of a MRT is to be part of an elite,
something that people aspire to. People who are happy to use their expertise to help other climbers.
MRT funding needs looked at but the RNLI was in recent years offered some government money which they turned down to avoid political interference.
heavy - on 13 Mar 2013
In reply to UKC Articles:

Incredible interest in the media in this years accidents every one a tragedy. I have been inundated by the Media who want mountaineers to defend our sport. We must work with Media it and try to spread the message of how safe our sport is to ignore is to be in my mind elitist and does not do our case any good. Maybe there is a few ways we can improve the safety message, anyone with ideas that have been missed by the various agencies would be gratefully appreciated. Funding of course is difficult for any new ideas maybe those who make so much money out of our sport could do more?

A good friend who has done various studies on Mountain accidents over the years states:

“You’re 11 times more likely to die in an
accident at home than you are on a mountain,”


“You are 15 times more likely to die in a
road traffic accident. You are six times more
likely to drown.

said Dr Bob Sharp (67), a statistician
and former team leader of Lomond Mountain
Rescue Team.
Wiley Coyote - on 13 Mar 2013
In reply to heavy:
> (In reply to UKC Articles)
>
> Incredible interest in the media in this years accidents

One reason why climbing accidents are news is precisely because they are relatively rare and, of course, they tend to be dramatic stories about big falls or avalanches. Also this year we've had multiple deaths in individual accidents. A higher death toll will always increase the coverage. Exactly the same would be true if several people drowned in a freak accident on a beach.

Circumstances alter the newsworthiness too. Two people drown in river - probably local story, two people drown on holiday, slightly bigger story because of location. Newlyweds drown on honeymoon Big story. Same basic fact but very different treatments.

IIRC 2,000 people or so die on the roads each year so unless there's an an usual feature (entire family killed, hit by police car etc) it is just another - quite literally - everyday occurence and therefore not newsworthy to a national audience.

It ain't going to change anytime soon so we may as well get used to it.
In reply to heavy:
>
> A good friend who has done various studies on Mountain accidents over the years states:
>
> “You’re 11 times more likely to die in an
> accident at home than you are on a mountain,”
>
>
> “You are 15 times more likely to die in a
> road traffic accident. You are six times more
> likely to drown.
>

These figures always baffle me - most of the people that I know that have died over the years have done so climbing. Despite a largish circle of friends/acquaintances and work colleagues, I know very few that have in RTA, at home or by drowning.

Promoting the idea that climbing is 'safe' is also something I would query.


Chris
Simon Caldwell - on 13 Mar 2013
In reply to Chris Craggs:
> most of the people that I know that have died over the years have done so climbing

maybe because being a climber, most of the people you know are also climbers, and hence rarely at home

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