Wednesday, 29 October 2008

Mountain rescue

There's fierce controversy over the recent Mountain Marathon in the Lake District, which turned into near-lethal chaos after flash flooding and vicious gales.

More than 1700 of the 2500 participants were stranded by the atrocious weather conditions, and many of them had to be rescued in a massive operation by the police, mountain rescue and the RAF. Fourteen had to be hospitalised with head injuries, hypothermia and broken legs.

Now many people are saying the event should never have gone ahead given the weather forecast, although the organisers say there was no serious danger as all the participants were extremely experienced and had all the appropriate equipment.

That's as may be, but nevertheless the emergency services had their work cut out to rescue those who got into difficulties, and the tens of thousands of pounds spent on the rescue operation could have been put to better use.

If the organisers didn't make any advance payment for possible rescue services (and I don't know if they did), they should certainly be making a contribution now. If they take the risk of hazardous weather, then they should pick up some of the bill when it all goes horribly wrong.

At least they were responsible enough to vet all the participants for their ability to cope with appalling weather. If they had allowed any Tom, Dick and Harriet to pitch in, the consequences don't bear thinking about.

Though as fell-runner Richard Askwith says, the whole point of events like this is that the organisers don't take all the responsibility, that it's up to individuals to be responsible for themselves and assess whether or not they're up to the challenge.

But what if they're not?

Sienna Miller has launched a legal action for harassment against paparazzi photographers who have made her life "intolerable", subjecting her to physical and verbal abuse, dangerous car chases and invasions of privacy. I hope she wins. It's about time these predatory vultures who leech off the famous were put in their place.


  1. I wondered how many of the individuals so anxious to be responsible for themselves, refused the help of the emergency services?

  2. Nick I believe most if not all came down of their own volition the emergency services went to scout for any who were slow returning. I do have a problem with reckless adventuring though, it cost a small fortune to rescue Tony Bullimore when he capsized in the Southern Ocean and many others who decide to ride a paddle pop stick over to New Zealand! They should pay a premium prior to their silliness in the event they have to be rescued at the tax payer's expense!

  3. Grannymar - Good point. A question I can't answer!

    Baino - You're right, there are lots of people like that who simply don't know their own limits, go careering off on reckless jaunts and then have to be rescued at vast expense. But if they had to pay a premium or get an advance permit then everyone would start shrieking about the "nanny state".

  4. and that is the very reason I like to stay indoors warm and sry by the fire ;-) The last time I climbed a mountain I took an umbrella with me - that's how unprepared I was!

  5. Conor - Yes, I refuse to go hill-walking in bad weather. If it's not dry and sunny, I stay at home. I don't understand the attraction of fighting your way through howling gales and pouring rain.

  6. Two words: Darwin Awards.

    Job done.

  7. Thrifty - Ah, this is a new one on me. "The Awards honor people who ensure the long-term survival of the human race by removing themselves from the gene pool in a sublimely idiotic fashion." So what you're saying is that if any of these absurdly reckless people had died, they've done us all a service (and presumably it's their own silly fault for being so reckless in the first place).

    Hmmm. What a little tease you are. Well, you can certainly say that if they do something so foolhardy, they have to expect the odd nasty injury. But death's a bit of a high price to pay. And the dead person might have been another Einstein....

  8. Same thing happened here in the summer Nick. Cliffs are posted as "dangerous and do not attempt to climb" out in Cape Spears and guess what, Darwin candidates figured it didn't apply to them so four jaunted off down the cliffs, got stuck and it cost something like $20,000 to rescue them with helicopters and it was seriously debated that we charge them for the service. This happens most years.
    It is all getting ridiculous and what happens if these emergency services have to be called out on a real and not self-induced emergency while they're busy with these eejits?
    Pshaw is what I say.

  9. www - Yes, another ludicrous waste of public money and resources. What did they think the danger signs meant? Did they think it was a joke? Did they think they were so super-fit they would be okay? There's always someone who thinks they don't need any advice, thanks.