Mountain experts have issued advice to those venturing into the high ground of the British Isles in the light of the five deaths on Cairn Gorm.
The three home mountaineering councils have stressed the need to build up experience and not to go beyond your capabilities.
One of the most significant pieces of advice issued by the British Mountaineering Council, the Mountaineering Council of Scotland and the Mountaineering Council of Ireland is not to be swayed by the hype which has built up around adventurous activities. The councils’ advice is that it is not always best to ‘go for it’.
Five mountaineers have died in one corrie in Scotland, Coire an-t Sneachda, in a little over two months. Although the circumstances of the deaths were different, one obvious factor, according to the councils, is the proximity of the corrie to roads and tracks and its ease of access.
A statement issued jointly by all three mountaineering councils said: “It is important to recognise that although it is relatively easy to access the northern corries of the Cairngorms, the terrain is as serious as any in Scotland and the full range of mountaineering and climbing skills are needed to manage the risks involved.
“Some of the skills are technical but equally important are judgement and decision making. It takes time to acquire these skills.”
The statement goes on to say mountaineers should be well equipped with both warm clothing and the right technical gear, take heed of weather reports and avalanche warnings and build upon previous experience. All sensible advice and a counter to the gung-ho writing that appears in some sections of the outdoor press which seems to hint that when we venture on to a rock face or knife-edge we become somehow invincible.
The recent devastating deaths have been a reminder that our mountains are potentially dangerous places and that judgement is required and even then accidents can happen.
For details of subsidised courses in winter skills available via the Jonathan Conville Memorial Trust and the Catherine Smith Memorial Trust, visit the websites of the mountaineering councils listed on our links page via the left-hand menu.