Scottish avalanche tragedy- irresponsible behaviour?

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  • Scottish avalanche tragedy- irresponsible behaviour?
  • RudeBoy
    Member

    Three die in Highlands Avalanche

    Very sad indeed, and I feel sympathy for the families and friends of those who lost their lives.

    Call me a Soft Townie, but I can’t help thinking,that going to an extremely inhospitable environment, in January, with extremely bad weather conditions forecast, is just plain madness. Of course, I can kind of understand the thrill of adventure thing, overcoming your own limitations and the conditions, etc, but it just strikes me as pretty bloody selfish and irresponsible, to be so arrogant as to think you can take on the elements in such a manner. This is compounded by the fact that rescue crews will have to risk their lives, to try and help those in trouble. Not to mention the enormous expense, to the mainly voluntary aided, and largely charity funded, organisations.

    I am sure there are many who are very experienced, know the risks and can minimise the need for involving risk to others, but I also feel that there are those for whom such risk-taking means that consideration for others is secondary. I know the SAS and that need to train in such conditions, but a group of people out for a weekend jolly should surely not be putting themselves, and possibly others, in such harm’s way.

    Certainly, quite a few of these ‘Extreme Outdoor Adventure’ types that I’ve met, have been quite arrogant, and it seems that they use the ‘sports’ as a way of showing off; ‘look how hard I am’. I’ve met people who’ve actually boasted about having to be rescued by helicopter and stuff. Stupid arseholes.

    I appreciate there can be a fine line between ‘calculated risk’ and reckless stupidity. I think most of us err on the side of caution and safety.

    If you can do something, where you are aware of the potential risks, and are equipped for the worst eventuality, fine. If you need to be rescued from a Scottish mountain, following an avalanche that warnings have been broadcast about, then maybe you have been pretty bloody irresponsible, I reckon.

    I dunno. I’m sure it’s not that simple, but it seems like yet another group of stupid idiots who think they are harder than nature.

    Someone’s son/daughter/brother/sister/father/mother.

    Sad. 🙁

    Premier Icon bruneep
    Subscriber

    Sad indeed.

    I’m sure it’s not that simple

    It’s not. The full facts are not given in the bbc article. Having lost a good friend who was a very respected climber its not as simple as you paint it.

    B

    IanMunro
    Member

    I dunno. I’m sure it’s not that simple, but it seems like yet another group of stupid idiots who think they are harder than nature.

    What you mean like smokers, drinkers, people that don’t exercise enough, people who it crap food. You mean like those stupid idiots that make up the majority of the population in denial of nature, or some other special sort of stupid idiot?

    nickname
    Member

    Given that the SAIS forecast was ‘considerable’ then I guess you could call it irresponsible, then again, maybe they did check the forecast and amended their route, and still got caught out?

    Still don’t really know the circumstances though. ‘Climbing’ is quite a general term – don’t know whether they were doing any rope work and got caught, or whether they were just bimbling around up there.

    RIP to these chaps.

    RudeBoy
    Member

    IanMunro- the people you speak of don’t tend to endanger the lives of others, though (let’s not get into the argument of passive smoking etc). And that’s completely different.

    I mean no disrespect, and tragic accidents can happen, despite every precaution being taken.

    But to go out in an area known for extremely hazardous conditions, in the worst possible weather, after days of heavy snowfall, and with avalanche warnings, just smacks or extreme recklessness, I’m afraid.

    A responsible person would weigh up the factors, espeshly the potential for any risk to others, and make a decision based on that. How, with all the information available, they still felt it was ok to go up the mountain, I don’t know.

    mattsccm
    Member

    Stupid maybe for getting it wrong.
    Good chance although just an educated guess on my behalf…. were then in Great Gully ? Renowned avavlanche spot. The BBC Curved ridge is a Red Herring.
    Irresponsible, hell no. Just doing what they enjoyed. I take it the original poster can’t be a cyclist.

    Premier Icon glenh
    Subscriber

    Rudeboy. I do not think you should not spout off about something you clearly have little knowledge of, on a public forum, when people have lost their lives.

    Many hundreds of people were out in the Scottish hills today without incident (as I may well have been if I was in the area). The people involved may have made a poor choice of route for whatever reason, but you should not comment on them without knowing the full details(which no one who was not there at the time would know).

    grahamh
    Member

    Call me a Soft Townie

    Rudeboy “Your a big soft townie”

    Premier Icon epicyclo
    Subscriber

    Conditions can turn nasty up here really quickly. Many people don’t appreciate how short a time it takes to die if you get it wrong.

    I suppose it’s a bit like cycling deep into the mountains wearing/carrying just cycling gear.

    JB
    Member

    Sad it is, but bruneep is right, its never as simple as it may seem, I’ve been climbing in the Scottish hills for over 25 years, summer and winter, mostly if you know what you’re upto you can assess and deal with most of the risks you face, but sometimes you get it wrong (human after-all) and sometimes sh*t happens…

    Lets face it, same goes for mountainbiking, if it didnt carry some risk you wouldn’t do it… and no matter how good you are sometimes sh*t happens…..

    Smee
    Member

    Avalanche category 3 – considerable – not one that would really put a lot of climbers off in my experience.

    The route – the main walkers path/tourist route whatever you want to call it.

    Think of it as the equivalent of going round GT blue route on a frosty day, falling off on a patch of ice and killing yourself.

    nickname
    Member

    I don’t think how quick conditions turning is the issue. The vast majority of people that I’ve met whilst up in the hills are fully prepared for bad conditions, and fully aware of how quick weather changes. This is to do with either not reading the forecast, ignoring it, or just being caught out and unlucky.

    druidh
    Member

    Aye – everyone should just stay indoors.

    Premier Icon chakaping
    Subscriber

    I understand that attitude RudeBoy – I also find climbing types to be arrogant knobheads more often than I do MTBers (just for example).

    And as a sometime hillwalker I’d be mortally embarrassed if I had to be rescued by helicopter.

    But MTBing can be quite a dangerous hobby too, and taking a spill somewhere remote and rocky could have nasty consequences and necessitate a mountain rescue team coming out.

    More bikers than walkers are probably inadequately dressed/prepared too (at a guess), but perhaps that’s a different debate.

    Premier Icon Sandwich
    Subscriber

    Avalanche Risk of 3 considerable with the worst being on NW slopes forecast. I would go out on any slope other than NW on such a day. The routes on BEV tend to be on the E to SE side of the hill so there should not be a great problem. Until we know where they were climbing it is difficult to form an opinion as to their competence.
    No one in our mountaineering club is proud of having a “Big Yellow Taxi Ride” we take the pish un-mercifully if they do. I would suggest anyone who boasts of being rescued is incompetent and not “rock hard”.

    JB
    Member

    Category 3… I wouldnt think twice about going out at that… 5 would probably stop me!!!

    Premier Icon epicyclo
    Subscriber

    One point is they died doing something they loved, not too bad a way to go.

    Smee
    Member

    Sandwich – they were on the tourist route. Not a climb, not even a scramble.

    grahamh
    Member

    Old Chinese saying
    “It is better to live one day as a Tiger than 10000 days as a sheep”

    Jenga
    Member

    Call me a Soft Townie

    You are soft townie with a mouth bigger than his brain.

    RudeBoy
    Member

    I have actually mentioned that “I’m sure it’s not that simple”, btw, folks. I make no claim to being an expert in this field. And I notice that my ‘ignorance’ in this area is being pointed out to me quite pointedly…

    So I’ll leave it to the ‘experts’ to comment:

    John Grieve, Glencoe Mountain Rescue team leader, said: “We were told that there were three buried, so began our search and recovered three bodies.”

    He added: “It didn’t look good at the time. It is tragic that this happens on our mountains, but it is all too common.”

    The website warned: “Off-piste and back-country skiing and travel should only be carried out by experienced persons able to evaluate avalanche hazard.”

    From this Times article.

    Avalanche expert Henry Schniewind said the risk level was such that a natural avalanche was unlikely but it could have been triggered by a single person.

    “It’s not all that unreasonable to go out skiing or mountaineering on an avalanche rating of category three,” he said.

    Mr Schniewind described avalanches as ‘vicious beasts’ that kill between 20 and 25% per cent of the people that are taken in them.

    He said people have about 15 minutes to live if they become trapped under the snow.

    ‘The best way to survive is to have your friends and companions trained up in getting you out and vice versa.’

    From our favourite newspaper.

    I had hoped for some intelligent responses, but if people want to slag me off, call me a ‘prat’, and suggest that ‘you don’t know what you’re talking about’, then I think that just displays the arrogant and foolish attitude that leads to such tragedies occuring.

    Thanks for reinforcing my opinions.

    Premier Icon matt_outandabout
    Subscriber

    And as a sometime hillwalker I’d be mortally embarrassed if I had to be rescued by helicopter.

    What a stupid statement! Guess you never called the parrafin budgie out then? I have, and trust me, its no embarrassment, its a relief – it saved my mates life and I and he are forever indebted.

    I am waiting for someone more informed than BBC scaremongering reporter and wind up mtb forum before I judge. I am up there this week for a job interview with a respected outdoor center – they may well have a better informed view.

    Premier Icon stevomcd
    Subscriber

    The website warned: “Off-piste and back-country skiing and travel should only be carried out by experienced persons able to evaluate avalanche hazard.”

    That’s a bit sensationalist – it should apply to all travel, at any time, on snow-covered terrain.

    As others have said, I wouldn’t think twice about going out in “Considerable” avalanche risk conditions. In fact, “Considerable” is pretty much the normal state of the hills for most of the winter.

    Typically out here (French Alps) we can expect the risk to be 4 (“High”) for 1-2 days following a heavy snowfall (or moderate snowfall+wind), then 3 for a week or so, then down to 2 if we haven’t had any more snow by that time. If you don’t go off-piste skiing/boarding in level 3 conditions, you’ll never go (and you’ll certainly never get fresh tracks!).

    Premier Icon chakaping
    Subscriber

    What a stupid statement! Guess you never called the parrafin budgie out then? I have, and trust me, its no embarrassment, its a relief – it saved my mates life and I and he are forever indebted.

    OK, point taken, what I meant was “if I had to be rescued by helicopter because of my own stupidity or unpreparedness in poor weather”.

    Maybe others wouldn’t, but I’d feel like I’d cocked-up.

    RudeBoy
    Member

    David Campbell, manager at Glencoe Ski Centre, said his staff had helped with the search effort.

    One of his employees is a member of Glencoe Mountain Rescue Team, while another, who was skiing in the area, also joined in the rescue operation.

    Mr Campbell described the avalanche as a “really major incident”.

    He warned that Buchaille Etive Mhor was not an area where inexperienced climbers should venture.

    “It’s a well known area for climbers, but it’s not an area for inexperienced climbers,” Mr Campbell said.

    From here.

    Premier Icon crazy-legs
    Subscriber

    This is similar to the OMM ‘incident’ a few months ago though, the media stir it up into a massively overhyped story. There were thousands of people out enjoying themselves all over Scotland on a winter weekend, you won’t hear about all the ones who had a great day out in the snow you hear about the three that tragically died. Until you know the full story you can’t comment – were they experienced/prepared mountaineers or were they a bunch of tourists in jeans and trainers?

    Accidents happen to even the best prepared people as I can vouch for having had to call out Mountain Rescue once in the past and having been helicoptered off a mountain myself. You never realise until it happens just how close you can be to a very serious accident.

    So far the only thing this incident has demonstrated is not about irresponsibility/stupidity in the mountains (not enough detail yet), it’s shown yet again just how good Mountain Rescue and the Armed Forces are and it may well mean a few more £ in donations to them next time you’re in a position to do that.

    Premier Icon kennyp
    Subscriber

    Rudeboy, I know what you’re getting at, but speak to the guys who actually work in Mountain Rescue and they’ll tell you that they don’t have any problem at all with folk going out in extreme conditions. They do have problems with folk who are ill-equipped or inexperienced, but not folk in general who are sometimes just unlucky. As for the inexperienced folk, there are always plenty of experienced people happy to take them along.

    The fact that two groups were caught in this avalanche suggests that it was mainly bad luck, though it’s difficult to know given the sensationalist angles taken by the media (remember that fell-running thing a while back?).

    I know a lot of folk who go out in those conditions, and 99% of them weigh up all the risks and do give a lot of thought, and respect, to the Mountain Rescue teams. Risk is part of life, and sadly there are far too many folk determined to remove it.

    Shuggito
    Member

    Two of my mates Sandy and Des are members of the Glencoe Mountain Rescue Team and never slag off anyone for going into the mountains in winter if they have prepared well,have the right gear,experience and are sensible about the weather.All too often you get the “tourists” usually from Universities down south who have booked their week up the Coe and are determined to climb something no matter what.When the weather is looking at all dodgy,most of the experienced climbers and locals can be found in the Clachaig Inn and all they can do is offer advice but would never try and enforce it.The danger of winter climbing has been debated for years and the same old statement always comes out as to why cant they just wait for the summer and some good weather,but as someone who has climber regularly in the French alps and Italian Dolomites,there is nowhere better than Gods own country in winter,and if you have to ask you will never know.

    RudeBoy
    Member

    Actually, kennyp, that’s one of the most sensible responses so far. And perhaps the first to appreciate that my concerns lie with those who have to try and get others out of trouble; people who, had they perhaps been more sensible/used better judgement/experience in assessing the risks/their own ability to survive potential hazardous conditions, may have decided on another, safer route, or not to have gone to such a clearly dangerous place.

    Sometimes, you gotta take risks; all part of pushing yourself/human endeavour.

    But think about others you may put in danger, before going out on your (Ego?) trip.

    And about those who you may leave behind.

    Climbers, walkers whom ever are no different to others when it comes to finding fullfilment in the great outdoors, it has it’s risks, calculated ones. Climbers are no more foolhardy, they just live closer to the edge, accidents happen and such is life, people die falling out of bed.

    What i would say to all the naysayers who spout sactimonious risk averse bull is you have never lived and never will, whether these guys died doing something with there eyes fully open i will never know, but at least it was something that gave them something that little bit special.

    Climbing mountains, battling the elements in an enviroment far removed from the local megamall is exactly why people head out into the hills and to some extent the unknown, becuase when they return to the 9 to 5 they feel so very alive.

    Smee
    Member

    The climbers I know, some of them professionals right at the top of the sport, are the most risk aware people I know.

    RudeBoy
    Member

    there is nowhere on earth like God`s own country in winter, and if you have to ask you will never know.

    Never been there, but I don’t think I have to ask:

    Yes, I do ‘get it’. I can only imagine how incredible it must be.

    Even more reason to want to survive, to see it again.

    5thElefant
    Member

    Accidents happen, especially when you actually live your life and not rot to death on the sofa. You don’t have to look for someone to blame. And yes, you are a big soft townie.

    Smee
    Member

    Looks gnarly doesn’t it.

    The thing is, the avalanche happened on the easiest route on the mountain.

    This picture shows the area that was avalanched.

    Doesn’t look quite so bad does it…

    RudeBoy
    Member

    And yes, you are a big soft townie.

    I resent that.

    I’m only 5’4 1/2″…

    I’ll just go back to my nice, safe, quiet, boring life, and leave all you hard men to it.

    Shuggito
    Member

    Old coffin dodgers on the EigerPhoties

    Premier Icon rickmeister
    Subscriber

    As an ex rescue team member of several years service in the Lakes it was easy to differentiate those who were genuinely unlucky as opposed to those who were caught lacking due to inexperience or being ill prepared. We had on average almost 65 callouts a year and I didn’t begrudge well prepared and informed people managing the risks but just being caught out. I had more contempt for folk who were just plain dumb about risk and how to manage in deteriorating circumstances. Have an adventure and get away with it on a summers day that goes bad, but surely the workable margin for error and consequence decreases in poor conditions and are you on top of your game in dealing with it?

    I applaud people for having a go, getting out and pushing themselves. Genuine accidents still happen however. If we dont step into the margins and learn, how do we ever develop the skills to cope? There is only so much you can learn from a book but in this environment theory will only take folk so far…..

    As for this case, I cant add anything, I don’t have all the info. Looking in and being critical is too easy… especially from my living room reading the article…

    Swayndo
    Member

    Like some others here it was mountaineering that led me into mountain biking. I’ve had the misfortune to be airlifted off the hill when a climbing buddy pulled a block onto himself at the top of a chimney in the Cuillin. I was at the bottom of the rope and had to move to avoid the block. JET got away with a tib and fib at right angles. I’ve also had been on the other side, in a volunteer MRT.

    Today, I did a high(ish) mountain pass (~500m) solo on a bike. I had to walk quite a bit on the plateau because of drifted snow, it was bitter cold and I smacked my chest off a rock on the descent when I slid out on sheet ice. I was committed as my wife had dropeed me on the north side and I was heading for home. I guess that makes me irresponsible.

    RudeBoy
    Member

    Have an adventure and get away with it on a summers day that goes bad, but surely the workable margin for error and consequence decreases in poor conditions and are you on top of your game in dealing with it?

    3 people dead, and the lives of several others risked.

    I’d say not…

    Middle of Jan, extremely severe weather conditions, considerable avalanche risk…

    If they’d stayed in their living rooms, they’d still be alive.

    Risks were obviously too great for them, as has been proven. Poor judgement.

    Irresponsible.

    5thElefant
    Member

    Risks were obviously too great for them, as has been proven. Poor judgement.

    Wonderful thing hindsight.

    stuartie_c
    Member

    “…my concerns lie with those who have to try and get others out of trouble…”

    They’re volunteers, Fred, if it’s the MRTs you’re referring to. If I were you I’d just give up on this thread because you fundamentally misunderstand what you’re talking about.

    Smee
    Member

    Rudeboy – how were the lives of those called out to help risked? The area had just been avalanched remember. Hardly liable to avalanche again now was it.

    It should also be remembered that the rescuers were in the area on excercise too….

    Premier Icon ton
    Subscriber

    rudeboy wrote
    Risks were obviously too great for them, as has been proven. Poor judgement.

    did you walk anywhere in london today.
    you could have been run over, mugged and stabbed, blown up possibly.
    would you have assesed the risk 1st.

    no poor judgement involved, just bad luck.

    Conor
    Member

    I really can’t believe I’m reading this thread on an MTB site. We all take risks. We all do things to keep us ticking over. MTBing is dangerous. Just different from climbing a mountain. I’ve been carried down a mountain after breaking my leg on a bike. Nobody told me off for that. I know I could well be killed or seriously injured when out biking, but I don’t give a **** as it’s what I want to do and there are far worse things I could be doing that would have a negative impact on our society.

    You are such a hypocrite.

    Smee
    Member

    To be fair the area where the incident happened is notoriously avalanche prone and is probably the most dangerous area in the UK for avalanches.

    Unfortunately, not a lot of people know that. The ones that do would find much more interesting ways of approaching the mountain.

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