Lies and ignorance, it seems, are more tenacious than I originally thought.
Nit picking with an ice axe, people claim they study avalanche warnings, as if there weren’t many other awesome dangers in winter. And many still set out, despite the warnings. Next excuse up is the usual “you’re also in danger walking on city pavements” and similar twaddle.
Must Scotland become a sort of outdoor Dignitas for healthy, fit people?
The cowardice of the Scottish Parliament in shying away from this one particular form of death must be tackled. We’re not dealing here with those who must live with risk because of their jobs – fishermen, oil workers, fire-fighters. Just mere hobbyists, whose worst excesses must be at least explored.
But don’t let’s blame the victims – but the whole aura around mountaineering. However bright victims are, they’re young and likely to be persuaded by the propaganda they receive of gung-ho support of “adventure”
People are easily influenced by the media. Friends have recently told me how family members have been asking them how they justify going into the mountains in winter conditions. It’s clear that, already, something is changing in the mind of the general public.
As lovers of the outdoors, we have a duty to crush this kind of thinking right now. The power lies with each and every one of you.
Here’s my call to action:
1. Leave a comment on the article I linked to above, and all future articles of the sort as and when they appear. State your views clearly and intelligently.
2. Write to your local MP, to the newspapers, to the radio stations. Make sure the media is aware that there is a segment of the population who objects to these views in the strongest possible way.
3. When you talk about the mountains with others, make them see the magic and the wonder of it: that Aonach Eagach sunrise that you remembered for a decade, or the joy of breaking out from a dark gully onto the sun-washed plateau of Ben Nevis. Emphasise the physical fitness, the sense of purpose, the friendships forged, the personal demons overcome. Make people see why we choose to do this.
4. Appeal to common sense. How could ‘closing off avalanche areas’ possibly be implemented? I’d like to see Torridon somehow closed off to mountaineers and policed. It’s completely impossible and anyone with any sense will realise this.
5. Don’t give up!
If we create a united front and resist talk of regulation and restriction, we will easily stop this nonsense from spreading. Right now it’s just a few vicious, misguided articles and media appearances, but if we sit back and let it happen then it could gain more popular support.
For those who seek it, the freedom of the hills is one of the most precious gifts life can give us. To lose that freedom, or to have it curtailed thanks to ignorance, would be a terrible tragedy. I hope if you have read this article and agree with what I say–even if you aren’t a climber of walker!–you will share it on Facebook, Twitter, and wherever else you can think of. Our voice needs to be heard.