UKC

/ Mountain rescue refuses to respond to call out

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eroica64 - on 24 Jun 2018

Grough reports - https://www.grough.co.uk/magazine/2018/06/24/rescuers-refuse-callout-to-wet-ben-nevis-walker - Lochaber Mountain Rescue refused to help a wet walker without waterproof clothing on the top of Ben Nevis.

Do we, meaning the UKC community, think this is a long-overdue and good response, or the thin end of a slippery wedge?

Post edited at 21:56
Wanderer100 - on 24 Jun 2018
In reply to eroica64:

> Do we, meaning the UKC community, think this is a long-overdue and good response, or the thin end of a slippery wedge?

I think you have got your metaphors mixed up!

profitofdoom on 24 Jun 2018
In reply to eroica64:

Reading the report you posted a link to, it looks like the walker was not injured or in danger of getting injured e.g. hypothermia and if so, IMO the rescue team's response was correct - assuming we do have all the correct facts

petestack - on 24 Jun 2018
In reply to eroica64:

> Do we, meaning the UKC community, think this is a long-overdue and good response

Since there's just no way they'd have declined to go out if they believed the walker to be in danger, we have to trust their judgement here.

Pursued by a bear - on 24 Jun 2018
In reply to eroica64:

Good on 'em.

T.

Dave the Rave on 24 Jun 2018
In reply to eroica64:

My opinion is that it’s a brave statement. Well done! Hope it makes the headlines and it serves a purpose.

Dr.S at work - on 24 Jun 2018
In reply to Dave the Rave:

Agree - I’m a bit more concerned that ONE of a group of 15 DofE candidates walked to get mobile coverage to summon a rescue, something wrong there surely?

Dave the Rave on 24 Jun 2018
In reply to Dr.S at work:

> Agree - I’m a bit more concerned that ONE of a group of 15 DofE candidates walked to get mobile coverage to summon a rescue, something wrong there surely?

It’s a can of worms. The ‘one’ did well;)

Wiley Coyote2 on 24 Jun 2018
In reply to eroica64:

'Wet' indeed!

captain paranoia - on 24 Jun 2018
In reply to petestack:

> we have to trust their judgement here.

And the judgement proved correct. Having survived being 'benighted' in the shelter, he survived the night and was walked down in the morning.

Jim 1003 - on 25 Jun 2018
In reply to eroica64:

Rescue teams do this all the time....its the team leaders call....

 

Robert Durran - on 25 Jun 2018
In reply to Dr.S at work:

> Agree - I’m a bit more concerned that ONE of a group of 15 DofE candidates walked to get mobile coverage to summon a rescue, something wrong there surely?


Also odd that there were 15 in the group; the maximun allowed number is 7.

Kevin Woods - on 25 Jun 2018
In reply to captain paranoia:

> > we have to trust their judgement here.

> And the judgement proved correct. Having survived being 'benighted' in the shelter, he survived the night and was walked down in the morning.

Indeed, also worth bearing in mind that the initial call was made around 9.30pm - there are still a couple hours of proper daylight, so why wouldn't he just walk off?

Post edited at 01:30
captain paranoia - on 25 Jun 2018
In reply to Robert Durran:

May have been a training session, not a practice or assessed expedition.

Pedantically, maximum is 8, if in tandem mode of transport (unlikely on Ben Nevis, I'll grant you...).

Jack Frost on 25 Jun 2018
In reply to Kevin Woods:

Don’t get confused by the article. Two rescue stories, the DofE lot weren’t on the summit, nor was one their party calling for help because they were wet.

The person that was refused help had nothing to do with DofE. If I’ve read correctly.

1
Luke90 on 25 Jun 2018
In reply to Dr.S at work:

> Agree - I’m a bit more concerned that ONE of a group of 15 DofE candidates walked to get mobile coverage to summon a rescue, something wrong there surely?

It's possible that you're just reading too much into a loosely worded statement by MR. The person giving the quote might not have literally meant that a single person went on their own.

Equally, it's not that difficult to think of reasons why they might have ended up going alone. Perhaps at the time of the incident someone was left alone on one bank and they happened to be the one carrying a phone or happened to be on the side of the river that the kids thought had the best chance of getting signal. They might have made the reasonable judgement that crossing the river again was a bigger risk than going alone.

Perhaps they thought they were only going to have to walk a few hundred metres to get signal but were wrong and kept going just a little bit further. An easy mistake to make, especially under stressful circumstances.

Luke90 on 25 Jun 2018
In reply to Jack Frost:

> Don’t get confused by the article.

I can't see any sign of confusion in Kevin's post. He's only referring to one of the incidents. What made you think he was confused?

 

Luke90 on 25 Jun 2018
In reply to Robert Durran:

It's possible that the 15 people are two or three separate groups from the same institution. They could have been using the same river crossing and ended up together due to the delay. Or the extra groups could have been contacted about the situation and joined them.

Or some of them might not have been at the river at all and MR might just be a quoting the total number of people that they ended up pulling off the hill if, as seems likely, the whole trip was cancelled after this incident.

1
Tobes on 25 Jun 2018
In reply to captain paranoia:

> May have been a training session, not a practice or assessed expedition.

> Pedantically, maximum is 8, if in tandem mode of transport (unlikely on Ben Nevis, I'll grant you...).

True, the article also say a group of “approximately” 15, so there’s some room there for interpretation.

whether a training or qualifying expedition, best practice would be that the supervisor(s) would use direct ‘supervision’ at hazards such as water crossings.

Not knowing the route and how many crossings/levels on the day this is only generic approach but would like to think the supervisors (adults) went over the route/route cards and identified such areas beforehand. 

There’s no mention either way of whether they were present (or not) so trying to avoid jumping to a conclusion here. 

Luke90 on 25 Jun 2018
In reply to Tobes:

> whether a training or qualifying expedition, best practice would be that the supervisor(s) would use direct ‘supervision’ at hazards such as water crossings.

> There’s no mention either way of whether they were present (or not) so trying to avoid jumping to a conclusion here. 

As you say, it's impossible to draw conclusions when it's all speculation based on very limited information. It's possible that the planned route didn't even call for the kids to cross the water at that position. Perhaps they were lost and crossing in the wrong place or even the wrong river. Perhaps they weren't meant to cross at all. Perhaps the planned crossing was so trivial that the leaders judged it didn't require supervision. The article does mention that the youth in question tried to take an "alternative route".

You've been very restrained in your implied criticism of the leaders but even that very cautious criticism seems a little unfair with so little information available.

Kevin Woods - on 25 Jun 2018
In reply to Jack Frost:

No confusion. We found the guy in the summit shelter seven hours later.

WaterMonkey - on 25 Jun 2018
In reply to Kevin Woods:

I think this thread has been hijacked somewhat by the DofE rescue discussion/criticism

It's a shame because a discussion on people going up mountains without correct gear, calling mountain rescue when they don't really need to and then being refused rescue could have been quite interesting. And possibly educational for those not familiar or experienced with mountains.

Post edited at 10:32
profitofdoom on 25 Jun 2018
In reply to WaterMonkey:

> I think this thread has been hijacked somewhat by the DofE rescue discussion/criticism

> It's a shame because a discussion on people going up mountains without correct gear, calling mountain rescue when they don't really need to and then being refused rescue could have been quite interesting. And possibly educational for those not familiar or experienced with mountains.

That is right and I feel so sorry (as well as thankful) for mountain rescues teams. Imagine having to go up to the top of the Ben at 10 PM for a guy who just got wet and was in no danger (as we believe now)

paul_the_northerner - on 25 Jun 2018
In reply to Jack Frost:

correct, the lochaber MRT facebook page has a post on the 24th which mentions both of these as separate incidents, (apparently the team were not on scene for the stuck boy, that was seemingly all managed by the coastguard)

paul_the_northerner - on 25 Jun 2018
In reply to Kevin Woods:

you actually found the guy? i'd be interested to hear your interpretation of his situation.

sounds like the busy MRT guys made a good call.

deepsoup - on 25 Jun 2018
In reply to WaterMonkey:

> It's a shame because a discussion on people going up mountains without correct gear, calling mountain rescue when they don't really need to and then being refused rescue could have been quite interesting. And possibly educational for those not familiar or experienced with mountains.

I followed a link from facebook to a newspaper story about that one.  I'm not linking to it here because I suspect it was written with a view to generate a certain outrage.  In short, it's sensationalist shite, imo.

I suspect they have selectively quoted the chap from Lochaber MRT, or at least I hope so, because to be honest he came across in that article as a bit of a judgemental nob.

The guy on the summit who got caught in the rain stayed in the summit shelter overnight and waited until someone happened along that he could walk off with.  Clearly he did not need to call 999 and we might think he's an idiot, but getting benighted (or choosing to be benighted) is a pretty miserable experience, so it's equally clear he was genuinely spooked and not just taking the piss.  This was not someone calling an ambulance because he's missed the bus and is late for an outpatients appointment.

Here is some good, solid, MRT type advice:
If you're heading up the mountain, you need to be aware that the weather can turn nasty quickly and be prepared.  Hypothermia can be a risk even during the summer, especially if you get wet.
If you find yourself in trouble, it is better to call for help sooner rather than later.

So, lets say someone who doesn't get out much, hasn't really spent any time in the hills is vaguely aware of these things but doesn't have any waterproofs or whatever sees that it's a sunny day and decides to chance it.  He's not very fit so he's probably a bit knackered by now, but has almost got to the summit when he's caught in a downpour and gets drenched.

Can't blame him for thinking he might be in serious trouble.  He is vaguely aware that he was warned about that, and disregarded it.  He's never been up there before, isn't very outdoorsy, doesn't really know how much light is left or how low the temperature will drop overnight.

So he calls Mountain Rescue.  They decide they do not need to attend immediately (which is not unusual) and advise him over the phone that he is in no immediate danger and will be able to walk off.  Which he does (eventually).

Nothing to see here..

Robert Durran - on 25 Jun 2018
In reply to captain paranoia:

> Pedantically, maximum is 8, if in tandem mode of transport.

No idea what that means!

 

deepsoup - on 25 Jun 2018
In reply to eroica64:

>  Lochaber Mountain Rescue refused to help a wet walker without waterproof clothing on the top of Ben Nevis.

They didn't refuse to help, they offered advice over the phone.

> Do we, meaning the UKC community, think this is a long-overdue and good response, or the thin end of a slippery wedge?

Neither.  There is nothing new here, it's not particularly unusual for Mountain Rescue teams to give advice over the phone in cases where they decide it is not necessary to attend in person.

Edit to add:
I failed to mention in my 12:40 post above...
Regarding the somewhat sensationalist newspaper report I saw: of course, I mean obviously, the chap who had walked up the hill was described as "a climber". <rolls eyes>

Post edited at 13:40
captain paranoia - on 25 Jun 2018
In reply to Robert Durran:

You haven't considered expeditions other than on foot, then?

Canoe
Dinghy
Tandem cycle

etc.

Any means of travel where they are necessarily in pairs.

Robert Durran - on 25 Jun 2018
In reply to captain paranoia:

> You haven't considered expeditions other than on foot, then?

Indeed not. We only offer foot!

 

Robert Durran - on 25 Jun 2018
In reply to captain paranoia:

> May have been a training session, not a practice or assessed expedition.

But if it was a training expedition, you'd expect a leader to be quickly on hand to sort it out.

 

ceri - on 25 Jun 2018
In reply to captain paranoia:

We did a canoe DofE as a 7 (3 canoes and a kayak)...

Kevin Woods - on 25 Jun 2018
In reply to deepsoup:

Good post, I agree with a lot.

The internet has been more than vocal on this whole thing, sometimes incorrectly. We found him at 4am. Between myself, Al and Rich we pooled a stove, hot flask, duvet jacket, base layers, gloves, Haribo. Then they got the groups down as it was too cold to hang around. Having stayed for 45 mins thawing out, myself and our man started down while pinging location back to the police. It was a warm, sunny morning by the bottom and a million miles from the plateau.

Secondly, it was not just 'wet', but a freezing, gusty night up high with lying snow and snow showers moving through. Not pleasant to hang around in, even for the fully equipped. When we got to him he'd been sitting still for seven hours.

I don't really feel it's my place, nor appropriate, to dissect this thing to pieces for all the internet to see. But, given the various strands of events through the evening I see nothing wrong with MR's judgement. Who am I to judge, anyway. There are a number of factors at play entirely unknown to the press and social media.

In this light, it is disappointing to see a news article out there that appears critical of MR, and I wonder who instigated that article.

Post edited at 22:42
deepsoup - on 26 Jun 2018
In reply to Kevin Woods:

I wouldn't have said the article was critical of MR, it is only my interpretation that it presented them as rather judgemental - to the point of being a tad unprofessional imo, which despite being a voluntary service I know they are not.

I should think the story (and, unfortunately, to some extent its tone) was picked up from Lochaber MRT's Facebook page.  What the Grough story linked to in the OP presents as a quote made to them actually seems to have been lifted directly from Lochaber MRT's facebook post, grammatical error and all:

"Silly season is here, with a walker calling in this week saying he was on summit soaked through with no waterproofs.  He was told in no uncertain terms that we would not be coming to his assistance; it was midsummer’s day and plenty of light and safety was to start walking down."

> I don't really feel it's my place, nor appropriate, to dissect this thing to pieces for all the internet to see.

Quite right, and all the more so when you see how journalists will sometimes pick these things up and spin them for the titillation of armchair experts and a few more hits on the website.

Well done for warming up yer man and walking him down.  May karma richly reward you for the sacrifice of those Haribo.

colinakmc - on 26 Jun 2018
In reply to eroica64:

Core issue seems to be should MR be morally obliged to rush out on every occasion. I suggest no - years ago I was 2nd on the scene for someone falling off Ledge Route on the Buachaille. I pulled out my new dangled (work) mobile phone and miraculously got through to Pitreavie. The guy on the phone said they’d just had that incident called in - said to me to look up CurvedcRidge and I would see someone on the skyline waving to me. That was Glencoe MR team and because 5er were other folk on the scene, they were carrying on with their exercise because it was a helicopter extraction anyway. so the 2 parties on the spot looked after the casualty ( actually he contributed a lot to that himself) TIL the Sea King arrived. All well.

So id support Lochaber’s risk assessment - wet doesn’t automatically mean at risk!


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