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GrahamThompson

Joined:

Jan 07

Posts: 4606

Avalanche in Glen Coe

Hi

Avalanche warning as rescue takes on what appears to be Buachaille Etive Mor in Glencoe.

news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/scotland/highlands_and_islands/7848934.stm 

GT

Graham Thompson Technical Editor Trail Magazine
 
JohnnyW

Joined:

Dec 07

Posts: 1384

JohnnyW says:

Re: Avalanche in Glen Coe

Guys, I think we're all drifting off the point here, and the usual difficult interpretations of someone's true 'drift' when making a post becomes the issue, rather than the facts of the incident.

I'd ask you to re-read my post, where I took issue with 'knowing what they were letting themselves in for'. I understand Arch's point, and have had the same conversation with my family times, around risk and minimising it, whilst pushing it and following my 'life less ordinary'. I did think then that maybe at the time they didn't actually 'know', and knowing a little more about the incident now, I still think that. 

I have been following the threads on another site I go on too, and here many very experienced climbers concur that the evidence actually points to whilst people have climbing experience, and indeed even Alpine and VF etc, they often do not have the foot/hours, as it were, out in difficult weather in the Scottish winter, when conditions change hourly and your decisions must too.

Having also experienced the phenomena whereby folks who have travelled to get to an area must 'get something in', I just want to re-itterate the need for a basic understanding of avalanche probability, route planning and choice. Those who know me know how I bang on about this, and will understand why I was on Ben Ledi this weekend and not elsewhere. I don't want to apear smug or self-righteous, just cautious and considered. I was imploring Arch and others to do likewise.

4429, that's my number.
JeremyAshcroft

Joined:

Jan 07

Posts: 504

Re: Avalanche in Glen Coe

Cheers2u,

Not wishing to hi-jack the tread, when you were gearing up for Swirral Edge did you dig a test pit? I would be interested to know what condition the snow pack was in? I would like to encourage everybody to do this and then perhaps post their findings. Providing information like this can be useful particularly for those just about to head out to the same area. If you have never dug a pit before you can find some useful tips in various books, a particularly good one is  Avalanche written by Robert Bolognesi published by Cicerone.

Oldstephen,

Really glad you survived your brush with the cornice on Y Garn. During a normal winter (of which this is the first in a long time!) cornice build up is common at the head of crags, gullies and along corrie head walls, and on a lot of climbs you simply can't avoid them. The critical thing is their stability, it's important to asses them as you would any other potentially unstable slope. They are perhaps at the most unstable (but not exclusively) just after snow fall (and that includes wind driven snow from other parts of the mountain when snow is not actually falling) and during a thaw. They can also develop monstrous proportions. I have witnessed cornices in the Cairngorms and on Ben Nevis that extend from the crag edge in excess of 40ft, and even on Helvellyn 25 footers are not that rare.

Mountaineering editor, Trail
arch

Joined:

Sep 07

Posts: 554

arch says:

Re: Avalanche in Glen Coe

Well,............ I wasn't going to make any more comments again on this post after the weekend, but i'd just like to quote what the Wife of one of the Climbers killed on BEM said today in a national newspaper.

 

" Eamonn and John went walking whenever and wherever they could, they could not get enough of the outdoors "

The other quote,

" It's comforting at least to know he died doing something he loved "

Mrs Audrey Murray,

bio-man

Joined:

Feb 08

Posts: 501

bio-man says:

Re: Avalanche in Glen Coe

A sentiment that I would imagine all of us and our families share and would be the comment were the same fate to befall any of us.

The Scottish 4,000ers June09 Raising Funds for Oban and Arrochar Mountain Rescue Teams
bio-man

Joined:

Feb 08

Posts: 501

bio-man says:

Re: Avalanche in Glen Coe

awty said:

For something positive to come out of this - make a donation to Mountain Rescue. That really would make a difference.

------ End Quote ------

Cheers Awty......... have a look at www.mtunney.wordpress.com  and support my fund-raising attempt in May09

The Scottish 4,000ers June09 Raising Funds for Oban and Arrochar Mountain Rescue Teams
Steve_D

Joined:

Apr 08

Posts: 368

Steve_D says:

Re: Avalanche in Glen Coe

Awty, I feel the same as you. Please all, look at the photo attached. Taken yesterday, from Swirral Edge looking up at the Helvellyn massive. You note 4 specks - climbers - about to emerge from the gulley and up on to the CORNICE above them. Taken on the same day and same conditions as those other unfortunate three.

There were 13 of us in our group. Putting on crampons at the time. We could see the 4 climbers, and others climbing up the main gulleys. What did we think?? Look at those f***ing idiots! we all hoped their luck holds! We were not impressed...and the 4 were mentioned only in passing. We were only interested in making ourselves as safe as possible before attempting Swirral.

Does that make us callous? morons?

------ End Quote ------

I have broken through that cornice on several occasions, it is usually there when the gullies are in condition.  I've also helped carry bodies off that have fallen in those same gullies - and off swirral edge.  I consider myself a careful climber but I have almost certainly gone out when others have not as I enjoy the challenge and testing myself.  Maybe the climbers knew exactly what they were doing.

At the end of the day you also made a judgement call in going up Swirral, the safest option would have been to stay home.  The only time I have come close to falling on Helvellyn was on Swirral Edge a badly placed foot with a badly timed gust of wind, thats life, it won't stop me going back.

Hope you had a good day out - I'm envious, I won't be out on the hills again until April.

Cheers

 

Steve D

YMMD (Your Mileage May Differ)
robinjsmith

Joined:

Sep 07

Posts: 1836

robinjsmith says:

Re: Avalanche in Glen Coe

I agree with most of what is said above, being one who criticised Arch early on - I know we all take risks, I would rather end up dead at the bottom of a corrie than in a hospital bed like some each of us will probably have known, I agree about the need for training and experience (which is usually learned the hard way, for example like mentioned above on Y Garn recently, or for me sliding elegantly off the Cuillin ridge), and that some of us deliberatley take risks like a numpty, because we enjoy the rush of jumping through cornices from above!!

I remember reading Joe Simpson saying that anyone who dies on a mountain is because they have made a mistake ... whether gear placement or judgement error etc, and I'm not sure I can fully agree with his view, I rather agree with Arch's (and others) underlying point (however insensitively put) that we take risks and play the odds ... and inevitably some of us lose.

 

Mazicle

Joined:

Jun 08

Posts: 128

Mazicle says:

Re: Avalanche in Glen Coe

"Climb if you will, but remember that courage and strength are naught without prudence, and that a momentary negligence may destroy the happiness of a lifetime. Do nothing in haste; look well to each step; and from the beginning thin about what may be at the end."

Edward Whymper, Scramles amongest the Alps

My mind is willing but the body has other ideas
Mountain Dan

Joined:

Mar 08

Posts: 297

Mountain Dan says:

Re: Avalanche in Glen Coe

I've not been on the forum quite so much recently, but here we are again and it's another GROUNDHOG DAY.

why is it that whenever anyone dies on a mountain we get the same old ramblings about the death being such a shame and our thoughts going to the families, all rather repetitive in my opinion.  And then someone like Arch makes a valid statement about doing what they loved, or someone questions the experience of those in question - and we get the same old barrage of vitriolic comments against people. 

Trawl through the old threads and the same old guff appears each time someone dies.  All very dull indeed.

 

Cloudwalker
kinley

Joined:

Jul 07

Posts: 131

kinley says:

Re: Avalanche in Glen Coe

 Same old LFTO

Pompey

Joined:

Sep 07

Posts: 355

Pompey says:

Re: Avalanche in Glen Coe

i think this is an incredibly emotive subject that touches on issues that anyone who goes into the hills cannot ignore.  i dont want to pass comment on this tragedy, as i dont know enough about it, but i think that whilst arch could have worded it alot better, he is trying to make a valid point about taking risks whilst doing something you love.  if these climbers were aware of the avalanche risk, then yes they took a chance, but what you dont know is their reasoning behind it or the full circumstances, and i think its a bit of an exaggeration to say they 'knew' what they were letting themselves in for - im sure if they knew what was going to happen they wouldnt have gone.  but as people have said above, we take risks all the time, the alternative is too saty at home. i think the wording was a bit callous and cavalier, a bit 'well, tough luck' .  but i appreciate that you are making the point that it is better to die doing something you love that of a slow-painful disease, personally i agree with that. the thing is that for the families involved, its probably a bit too soon to start reflecting on it and accepting that - some of them have already agreed with you from the quotes from the papers you posted, but they are in the early stages of grief and for the others simply coming to terms with the loss will come before the acceptance of it being a 'better'way to go.  i dont think it should be taboo to discuss deaths in the hills, or the circumstances - if it brings the risk home to us and teaches us about safety then that all to the good, but i think you have to be incredibly careful what you say and where you say it - you dont know if any of these climbers families are reading it.  i was on helvellyn with a close friend last january when he fell and died, and for weeks i was obsessed with reading eveything written on every forum. it was a horrible feeling but partly driven by a need for explanation as to the how hell these things happen and to get other peoples views on whether we did anything wrong. i was sensitive to every word i read, on the one hand i needed to know if i /we could have done anything differently, on the other hand it cut deep when i read a post saying basically that we knew the risks and so tough luck, it just sounded too harsh and didnt acknowledge the planning that went into that day.  you can make a fair point if you word it with tact.   in my experience (which i know wont reflect everyones) there is a huge amount of speculation and bad reporting associated with these things, comments about conditions, amount of experience and planning , actual circumstances, cause a lot of distress because you just want the facts straight.

as for the dying doing something you love/on a hill, so many people will say that- the first people to say that about dave were the MR man who helped me off helvellyn and the dr who told me he had died - it seemed blunt at the time but is something that all his family and friends agreed with as the initial shock wore off, and i know dave felt that way. i think its a sentiment we all agree with, but when it happens to someone close you have to get past the anger that it happened years too soon before you can evolve an acceptance of it.

anyway, theres a poem on my facebook site that was written and sent to me by the policeman who took my statement that sums a lot of this up if anyone wants to read it.  i'll not write it here unless requested as it tends to being a tear to alot of people, but anyone who loves the hills read it and said 'yup, thats it'.

[This Reply has been modified by the Author]

show me where it hurts and i'll rub it better
terrybnd

Joined:

May 07

Posts: 4881

terrybnd says:

Re: Avalanche in Glen Coe

That was a lovely and well written post there, Pompey.

I think it says it all really......

Hiking and wild camping in the UK www.terrybnd.blogspot.com Follow me on Twitter www.twitter.com/terrybnd
chris_sk2

Joined:

May 07

Posts: 1097

chris_sk2 says:

Re: Avalanche in Glen Coe

Read your poem Caroline, very nice indeed. Think you should post it.

Very sensitive for a cop !

Anonymous

Joined:

Posts:

Anonymous  says:

Re: Avalanche in Glen Coe

Well said Pompey,  well said indeed Please post your poem here or PM it to me, As Facebook does my head in, did register once but closed my account as it was always crashing and very slow.

 

cozy

Joined:

Mar 07

Posts: 2941

cozy says:

Re: Avalanche in Glen Coe

Just incase it makes me anonymous again the above comment was posted by me: Cozy

GrahamThompson

Joined:

Jan 07

Posts: 4606

Re: Avalanche in Glen Coe

Mountain Dan said:

I've not been on the forum quite so much recently, but here we are again and it's another GROUNDHOG DAY.

why is it that whenever anyone dies on a mountain we get the same old ramblings about the death being such a shame and our thoughts going to the families, all rather repetitive in my opinion.  And then someone like Arch makes a valid statement about doing what they loved, or someone questions the experience of those in question - and we get the same old barrage of vitriolic comments against people. 

Trawl through the old threads and the same old guff appears each time someone dies.  All very dull indeed.

 

------ End Quote ------

Hi

I think you could actually make the same comment about human conversation anywhere in society!

For some strange reason many people talk about the weather and its finite changes that happen each day.

Humans eh? Love or hate em, but you cannot live without 'em! (I tried and you go a bit nutty I found!)

GT

Graham Thompson Technical Editor Trail Magazine
cheers2u

Joined:

Dec 07

Posts: 1761

cheers2u says:

Re: Avalanche in Glen Coe

Well written and with insight and compassion, Caroline. Thanks for saying what you have. It must have brought back some sensitive memories. I know that I did comment on your friend Dave back last january, and I can't remember what i said.....but i really hope that the content of my post did not upset you in anyway.

"Well, I'm standing next to a mountain........an' I chop it down with the edge of hand........huh, huh"
DrJonnie

Joined:

Jan 08

Posts: 354

DrJonnie says:

Re: Avalanche in Glen Coe

 I felt very sad when I heard the report of the avalanche, whatever the circumstances of the incident, some experienced mountaineers lost their lives. We all take risks and we could all be in the same situation.

Let us count our blessings that we have survived so far and lend our commiserations to the families and friends of those killed and injured.

 

"There's no such thing as bad publicity except your own orbituary..." Brendan Behan
Pompey

Joined:

Sep 07

Posts: 355

Pompey says:

Re: Avalanche in Glen Coe

cheers2u said:

Well written and with insight and compassion, Caroline. Thanks for saying what you have. It must have brought back some sensitive memories. I know that I did comment on your friend Dave back last january, and I can't remember what i said.....but i really hope that the content of my post did not upset you in anyway.


 

no, there was a lot of support from people on here.  spot on drJonnie above.  anyway, had a couple pms asking bout the poem i was given by the policeman who took my statement. hes a mountaineer and ex-MR, and he painted me a watercolour of a mountain and put this on the back:

If i could choose a time to die,

I'd choose a time with spirits high

With someone with whom id love to be

Who'd give me joy and set me free.

And if the place was up to me,

Then rock and snow and ice and scree

And air as fresh as windblown sea,

My feelings sharp, then i might say

Thank you for such a perfect day.

show me where it hurts and i'll rub it better
MartinD

Joined:

Oct 08

Posts: 99

MartinD says:

Re: Avalanche in Glen Coe

Caroline, Thank you sharing this with us.

Personally I cannot think of a better way to end this thread.

Martin

Gee&FrankO'Soler

Joined:

Jan 09

Posts: 2

Re: Avalanche in Glen Coe

 What has amazed me, watching from the sidelines, about this thread, apart from the shamefully insensitive post and subsequent sarcasm toward the Armed Forces by the poster Arch, is the number of people who sprang to his defence.

Very disheartening.

Ted

Joined:

Mar 07

Posts: 28

Ted says:

Re: Avalanche in Glen Coe

Here, Here, Great name BTW ive really warmed to that little fella of late.

cozy

Joined:

Mar 07

Posts: 2941

cozy says:

Re: Avalanche in Glen Coe

Shame, i thought the poem had brought the thread to a good end, Arch was entiltled to say what he wanted and also apologised to anyone that was offended. If people to choose to support what Arch had to say then it was up to them, Everyone reads differently to what is typed on a forum and some agreed and some did not. That the way it goes sometimes.

ATB

Gee&FrankO'Soler

Joined:

Jan 09

Posts: 2

Re: Avalanche in Glen Coe

 I and others were perturbed by his comments, and of those on here that defended what some thought, was indefensible.

snowman1

Joined:

Nov 07

Posts: 4795

snowman1 says:

Re: Avalanche in Glen Coe

Gianfranco Zola........I like it Sloboy.......spotted it right off , made me chuckle.

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