Loading Notifications...

Covid-19 and climbing in Scotland

This topic has been archived, and won't accept reply postings.
 kenneM 17 Mar 2020

Was planning on heading to the Ben for 4 days climbing this weekend.  After yesterday's call to reduce travel I am not sure this is a responsible course of action, especially given the impact on the NHS should we be unlucky enough to have an accident.  

Keen to hear people's thoughts?

1
 Red Rover 17 Mar 2020
In reply to kenneM:

Stay at home. You'd feel stupid if you got hurt and took up a hospital bed. We have to accept that climbing this spring and summer is written off, there are more important things.

30
 TXG 17 Mar 2020
In reply to kenneM:

I don't think it's a good plan. I've cancelled a trip for this weekend. I'll be minimizing my travel & changing my activities to local solo runs in the woods and very low level bouldering to minimize the chance I'll be a burden to the NHS or spread the infection.

We all need to do our bit to slow the spread. Ultimately these are tiny sacrifices.

Cheers

Tom

2
 DaveHK 17 Mar 2020
In reply to kenneM:

Mountain Rescue Scotland issued a statement basically saying continue to enjoy healthy outdoor pursuits but don't take risks as this puts emergency services under pressure. I'd say that rules out winter climbing.

11
 ScraggyGoat 17 Mar 2020
In reply to DaveHK:

SMRT said:

'Being in the outdoors has many benefits and we are usually very happy to encourage individuals to get outdoors and enjoy the beauty of Scotland, however during this ongoing situation we ask you not to take any unnecessary risk when enjoying the outdoors. Perhaps go on adventures you are familiar and safe with and while doing so, keep social distancing in mind. '

Thus if its in good nick, your local, familiar with the approach, descent options, have climbed route/adjacent routes before, the route is reasonable protected, and your comfortable at the grade, plus the weathers benign...….to my mind would meet their request.   Plus don't share belay stances with others...first team on the route gets the route.

Post edited at 09:54
3
 HardenClimber 17 Mar 2020
In reply to kenneM:

Think I would go (same issue in 2weeks). You  can hopefully isolate yourselves quite well while there.

Avoid risks.

Make sure home is sorted, because doing a lot of things will be increasingly difficult (ie don't put urgent things off till next week).

Paul

6
 leon 1 17 Mar 2020
In reply to Red Rover: I had planned going up to Fort William from the Peak on Thurs to Tues but Ive decided to stay at home as I feel its important for me to be around my wife and children and not to travel at this time.

As was pointed out above it is possible to be quite isolated when on the hill itself but who knows what might be transferred at motorway service stations/petrol pumps/cafes/bars etc ? Its not just close proximity to an infected person that passes it, this virus apparently can live for a period on hard surfaces. Id personally rather miss out on a few days of winter climbing than get sick or possibly transfer this virus to other locations.

Post edited at 10:27
 Red Rover 17 Mar 2020
In reply to leon 1:

It's not just transmission thats the problem. If you get injured you will take up a hospital bed for something self-inflicted (you didnt have to go climbing) which could be used for somebody with the disease.

4
 Exile 17 Mar 2020
In reply to kenneM:

I'm in exactly the same position and decided not to go.  Unnecessary travel is just that.  I was climbing on Lochnagar last weekend, (which possibly makes the decision easier as I've got something done recently,) but even relatively short 'unnecessary' car travel has the potential to put others at risk - calling out the AA as an example - for what is essentially a selfish outcome.

Doesn't mean that I'm not pi$$ed off thought!

 Nathan Adam 17 Mar 2020
In reply to kenneM:

I think it's probably for the best to stay away from small, isolated and under resourced Highland communities right now, especially those travelling from larger population centers and cities who may be unaware they are carrying it. Any interaction with local people may lead to further spread of the virus that could otherwise have been avoided, self isolation only works to protect people if we all take part in it. Essential travel in my mind is either for food supplies or going to work, or going outside to maintain sanity in some cases.

The other option being to stay somewhere closer to home in order to get out in the hills where you can be entirely self sufficient without close contact to any other people. 

As sad as it is, I think Scottish winter is likely to be finished for the season. 

Post edited at 12:12
6
 Alan.rodger 17 Mar 2020
In reply to ScraggyGoat:

I'm inclined to agree especially if you use a tent and cook your own.

2
 ScraggyGoat 17 Mar 2020
In reply to Alan.rodger:

why would you be using a tent and cooking, if your climbing locally?

Post edited at 13:01
1
In reply to DaveHK:

Hmm, surely it’s a bit more nuanced than that. I’d say don’t get on routes where there is an anything other than a remote chance of an injury inducing fall or avalanche (recognising that zero risk doesn’t exist in climbing, as in life generally). It is then down to each individual’s personal judgment, based on their experience. If someone is not sure, the answer is normally don’t do it.

However all of the above applies in normal circumstances, or at least I apply these principles in normal circumstances. As such, I don’t see the current situation as significantly different in this respect.

3
In reply to ScraggyGoat:

Bang on. As for sharing stances, climbing below others in winter, particularly on ice, is generally a bad idea anyway. 

 Alan.rodger 17 Mar 2020
In reply to ScraggyGoat:

Locally to me can mean a night out.

1
 ScraggyGoat 17 Mar 2020
In reply to Misha:

Agree, I was slightly 'narked' at SMRT's inference that climbers/walkers are a high risk activity/group that deliberately undertake poorly judged risks in normal circumstances.  I would have preferred Whympers; 

'“Climb if you will, but remember that courage and strength are nought 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 think what may be the end.'

and if you think you have c-virus exposure please them in advance and they will take a couple of bottles of High Commission as sterilising agent (lets face it you canne drink the stuff).

Agree about climbing beneath others, amazed at so many supposedly experienced climbers that do it......

Post edited at 13:41
3
In reply to ScraggyGoat:

To be fair I think that’s kind of what they are saying. Take care abs stay within your abilities etc. Always a good idea in winter. 

 Basemetal 17 Mar 2020
In reply to kenneM:

Since you asked for thoughts, I'm not planning to do things any differently. Nor do I expect my behaviour to make any difference.

In context, we're speaking of a truly negligible impact on services, NHS and even MRTs if we go on having a 'seasonal normal' level of accidents, call outs and hospitalisations.

I'm not being callous or cavalier, but I see a need to point out the trend to over-reaction. Winter climbers are a small population, so even "if every climber did X...", we're speaking of effectively zero population consequences.

18
 kenneM 17 Mar 2020
In reply to Misha:

Many thanks for your everyone’s input. Leaving the points of climbing beneath people, tents and sharing belays aside for now, a specific question if I may.
 

Is currently traveling from N Wales to Fort William unreasonable ? We have all but cancelled our trip this weekend to Scotland but I am now thinking more about the next 3, 4 or 5 months? Is driving to any crag unreasonable ? Just being chatting with some colleagues in Spain and they are on complete lockdown i.e they can only go to the closest shop to their house. Although harsh it seems to be clearly understood - unlike the direction we have received in the U.K. 
 

Thanks

Mike

Post edited at 13:42
In reply to DaveHK:

> Mountain Rescue Scotland issued a statement basically saying continue to enjoy healthy outdoor pursuits but don't take risks as this puts emergency services under pressure. I'd say that rules out winter climbing.

That sounds like a sensible balanced approach. Unless the government clearly rules it out, I'm going to at least maintain my sanity by driving carefully to the hills on my own, going walking and driving back. No need for any social contact or possible transmission via shared surfaces. I can live without climbing if necessary. But I am going to get awesomely strong on my much neglected fingerboard - given how naturally poor my finger strength is, it is probably the best thing I can do for my climbing anyway. 8a in 2021🙂

1
 joem 17 Mar 2020
In reply to kenneM:

I’d say be pragmatic, don’t push the boat out don’t travel the length of the country, try to minimise contact with people. But I don’t think now is the time to completey halt everything this isn’t going to blow over in a few weeks so we need to make sure what we do is sustainable for up too a year i think.  To me that still includes sone climbing. Just being a bit more sensible.

 flour 17 Mar 2020
In reply to Basemetal:

There have have been several posts on the different threads on this subject justifying selfish behaviour. Always the same, finding a way of looking at the situation and concluding it's ok because everyone else is over reacting.

In 2 weeks time try telling the overworked nurse, who can see things only getting worse for the next month, that the climber she has looked after in ICU that last week has had a negligible impact.

It's time to be less about me.

8
 C Witter 17 Mar 2020
In reply to Red Rover:

> We have to accept that climbing this spring and summer is written off, there are more important things.

Um... No. A few adaptations, a few cancellations, but written off? 

Glenmore Lodge has closed and already one climbing club I know of has cancelled its meets and shut its huts. This seems fair and proportionate. Personally, I think indoor walls should also temporarily shut. But, the idea that everyone needs to lock themselves in the basement for the next five months is a nonstarter.

Personally, providing we're all well with no symptoms, I plan to get out to local crags with close friends, and I don't see any issue with this. Otherwise, we'll be going completely mad by the time this is over. Just the prospect of cancelling all climbing till autumn is enough to make gnaw my own arm off.

3
 rogerwebb 17 Mar 2020
In reply to ScraggyGoat:

> '“Climb if you will, but remember that courage and strength are nought 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 think what may be the end.'

All very well but please do leave a detailed note about your intentions, including Plan B. Searches use up loads of people and those people are already in shorter supply than they were last week.

 Red Rover 17 Mar 2020
In reply to C Witter:

The issue isn't spreading it while climbing and I'm not saying to go into a bunker (strawman). I'm saying we shouldn't do things which can put a strain on the NHS. Imagine taking up a hospital bed because you couldn't give up climbing for a few months. It's a couple of years since I last climbed due to work and inury and, coming back to it now (or not) I'm shocked at how people are acting like addicts. These are special circumstances we can miss a summer or just a spring!

Post edited at 15:22
8
 ianstevens 17 Mar 2020
In reply to flour:

> There have have been several posts on the different threads on this subject justifying selfish behaviour. Always the same, finding a way of looking at the situation and concluding it's ok because everyone else is over reacting.

No, it's because not everyone lives in the same circumstances.

> In 2 weeks time try telling the overworked nurse, who can see things only getting worse for the next month, that the climber she has looked after in ICU that last week has had a negligible impact.

Why does everyone making this argument assume people go out to get injured??? In 10+ years of climbing I have never "taken out a hospital bed", and intend to keep it that way. Yes, things happen, but accidents also happen in the home, especially when you've been cooped up for a bit and gone mental. Stick with the guidelines - avoid public transport, keep apart from people and just reign in your climbing a little (e.g. don't go for a big dangerous grade push/sketchy highball) and wash your hands. For some people, the mental health benefits of getting outside are essential, and shouldn't be underestimated. 

> It's time to be less about me.

Lets have an example (appreciate this is an n=1). I leave my covid-free household (which consists of myself), get in my covid-free car and drive to a civid-free crag where there are, lets say 10 others. I stay over 2m away from them (climbing on different boulders), and sanitise my hands between touching rock and eating/touching my face or if I cough because I've huffed in some chalk. I don't climb any highballs, or anything that I could take a bad fall off - pretty standard for a solo day out. I drive home (in my covid free car), maybe need to get some petrol. I put on some gloves (provided) use pay at the pump and interact with nobody, but again sanitise my hands because I've touched a surface that I'm uncertain whether or not its clean. I get back in my covid free car, pop in the shop to get some food (essential travel) then home. 

What's the problem here? I fail to see one. The biggest risk I've got of interaction with sars-cov-2 is at the shop, which is classed as essential anyway. As I live alone, the only person who catches it is me, so I then self-isolate. As someone who is under 30 with no pre-existing conditions, I'm 99.9% confident I can shake it off without so much as a call to 111. That way I'm not spreading it about society.

The point I'm making here is that some living situations are conducive to still climbing outside. Clearly, some are not - however this doesn't mean a blanket ban is appropriate. 

Post edited at 15:29
7
 Basemetal 17 Mar 2020
In reply to flour:

> There have have been several posts on the different threads on this subject justifying selfish behaviour. Always the same, finding a way of looking at the situation and concluding it's ok because everyone else is over reacting.

> In 2 weeks time try telling the overworked nurse, who can see things only getting worse for the next month, that the climber she has looked after in ICU that last week has had a negligible impact.

> It's time to be less about me.

It's not about me at all. It's about a realistic appraisal of how likely I am to contribute to the load on the NHS if I go climbing.

We don't seem to be able to handle statistics very well, and certainly don't seem to be able to make coherent inferences from statistical data. 

How many climbers do you think are in ICU in the UK just now? Or "outdoors people" as a result of outdoor activities? How many general hospital beds are taken up? I'm not saying the answer is zero,  but it isn't going to change as a result of coronavirus if no-one modifies their behaviour -and it hasn't scope to reduce much even if everyone does. 

I'm saying that I have no plans to modify my climbing behaviour because there is no quantitatively valid reason for doing so, and so there is an acceptably small risk of it proving to be selfish. If you want to object that "any" increase in risk is a bad thing, then I'd ask what cost you are prepared to pay for infinitesimal improvements -there has to be some practical acceptance of risk or all activity ceases.

4
 DaveHK 17 Mar 2020
In reply to Basemetal:

> How many climbers do you think are in ICU in the UK just now? Or "outdoors people" as a result of outdoor activities? How many general hospital beds are taken up?

It's not just about the ICU beds although one injured climber in ICU would use up one 7th of the capacity in the Highlands.

Searching for lost climbers etc takes up thousands of person hours for a variety of emergency services who might be otherwise deployed at this time. And I'm sure all the other climbers who've ever had to be rescued or even lost their lives felt exactly like you; that there was a tiny risk of them being involved in an accident or tying up emergency service time. And if rescue personnel are self isolating or ill that's only going to exacerbate things. 

Post edited at 16:46
1
 Rob Parsons 17 Mar 2020
In reply to DaveHK:

> Searching for lost climbers etc takes up thousands of person hours for a variety of emergency services who might be otherwise deployed at this time.

I can't think that MR services are going to redeployed in some way to deal with coronavirus. (Of course, those services might be understaffed if members contract the thing - so that's a reason to minimize the risk of any callouts just now.)

3
 Basemetal 17 Mar 2020
In reply to DaveHK:

> >  And I'm sure all the other climbers who've ever had to be rescued or even lost their lives felt exactly like you; that there was a tiny risk of them being involved in an accident or tying up emergency service time.

I agree with you -but behind the emotive presentation, the quantitative likelihoods and impact remain small. Statistically climbers do not feature largely in the load on services.

Active MRTs in popular regions are a special case by their raison d'être, and as a one-time member of one of the busiest I do know what a bad season feels like. But we mustn't confuse statistics with specifics.

E.g. Person A has experience, skills, equipment, lives locally, carries a beacon, leaves route and itinerary information, chooses to climb where there is cell coverage, knows the area like the back of his hand and has an equally able partner, usually climbs under his grade.

Person B doesn't.   

....Not the same risks

 rogerwebb 17 Mar 2020
In reply to Rob Parsons:

> I can't think that MR services are going to redeployed in some way to deal with coronavirus. (Of course, those services might be understaffed if members contract the thing - so that's a reason to minimize the risk of any callouts just now.)

It's a bit more than that. Quite a high percentage in some teams work within NHS. Those members are likely to become unavailable. Add that number to those infected or self isolating and it is easy to take out about 40% or more of the call out list. If you then subtract those who are unavailable for normal reasons you have very restricted numbers. That in turn requires requests for assistance from other teams. These may be traveling some distance and the risk of transmission increases. 

Post edited at 17:11
 Rob Parsons 17 Mar 2020
In reply to rogerwebb:

Understood, thanks.

 C Witter 17 Mar 2020
In reply to Red Rover:

>  It's a couple of years since I last climbed due to work and inury and, coming back to it now (or not)

So... basically, you don't actually climb? No wonder you're struggling to understand people's motivations.

9
 Red Rover 17 Mar 2020
In reply to C Witter:

I climbed regularly for over a decade including alpine climbing in norway and so I know exactly how it feels! But we can survive a few months without it.

3
 ianstevens 17 Mar 2020
In reply to Red Rover:

> I climbed regularly for over a decade including alpine climbing in norway and so I know exactly how it feels! But we can survive a few months without it.

Says someone who has had a two year “break” and already adjusted to not climbing regularly.

8
 ianstevens 17 Mar 2020
In reply to rogerwebb:

> It's a bit more than that. Quite a high percentage in some teams work within NHS. Those members are likely to become unavailable. Add that number to those infected or self isolating and it is easy to take out about 40% or more of the call out list. If you then subtract those who are unavailable for normal reasons you have very restricted numbers. That in turn requires requests for assistance from other teams. These may be traveling some distance and the risk of transmission increases. 

Or you just accept that there’s less likelihood you get scraped up if you do need MR. An incredibly difficult to discussion to have with your usual emergency contact of course...

 Rob Grant 17 Mar 2020
In reply to ScraggyGoat:

> SMRT said:

> 'Being in the outdoors has many benefits and we are usually very happy to encourage individuals to get outdoors and enjoy the beauty of Scotland, however during this ongoing situation we ask you not to take any unnecessary risk when enjoying the outdoors. Perhaps go on adventures you are familiar and safe with and while doing so, keep social distancing in mind. '

> Thus if its in good nick, your local, familiar with the approach, descent options, have climbed route/adjacent routes before, the route is reasonable protected, and your comfortable at the grade, plus the weathers benign...….to my mind would meet their request.   Plus don't share belay stances with others...first team on the route gets the route.

There are certainly climbers with the skill and experience to operate, in certain conditions, with almost no risk. The problem is that this sets an example to less experienced people. Sometimes society needs to operate at a pace everyone can match. 

5
 tehmarks 17 Mar 2020
In reply to kenneM:

I see no reason to put climbing on pause: I'd like to think I've developed good judgement for when I'm operating well within my limits and when I'm pushing the boat out, and so I'll use that good judgement to limit my activities to those which are highly unlikely to result in a trip to the nearest hospital or morgue.

You simply can't stop doing everything for six months because you might become a hospital statistic. That's abject lunacy. Where do you draw the line? Do you stop driving to the shops for your food shopping, because you might be involved in a RTC? Do you stop crossing roads, because of the hazard of being struck by a vehicle?

I'll be spending the next six months almost exclusively in the outdoors - walking, scrambling and climbing. Well away from most other people, in fresh air, and with exactly the same lack of desire to end up a statistic as I always bring to the crag.

8
 David Rose 17 Mar 2020
In reply to kenneM:

It's clear that conditions on Ben Nevis are pretty good right now. Freezing level low; lots of fat ice. I'd love to be up there. In fact, last weekend I discussed making a trip with a mate. We had a plan. Then came Monday's government press conference, as well as the MRT advice. To me, it's a no brainer. No one can ever honestly say they won't get into some kind of trouble winter climbing - no matter how careful or experienced. And if you do, right now, that's a lot of resources which are going to have to go on rescuing you, and taking care of you, to say nothing of getting you home afterwards. If we're being told only to make necessary journeys, well, no journey from somewhere far away to the Ben is going to fit that category. We are now in the early stages of what is almost certainly the biggest crisis since WW2. For the time being, we are going to have to make do with the mountains in our minds - as Bill Murray did in his POW camp, as he wrote his great classic, Mountaineering in Scotland.    

Post edited at 19:16
6
 rogerwebb 17 Mar 2020
In reply to ianstevens:

> Or you just accept that there’s less likelihood you get scraped up if you do need MR. An incredibly difficult to discussion to have with your usual emergency contact of course...

You will get scraped up. It may take longer than desirable but it will happen.

,(I am not saying don't go but if you are try and set things up so that if things go wrong it won't need a big search) 

Post edited at 19:21
In reply to David Rose:

I agree 100% with this. I live in the Highlands, like quite a few people on here. I would struggle right now to justify a car journey from Inverness to the west coast without considering the additional risk of the climbing. There's little question (at least in my own mind) that its unjustifiable. 

Could one honestly look your own grandparent in the eye, somebody who needed a hospital bed that you had taken because of a climbing related injury, and justify to them that the 1 in 10,000 risk (or whatever) was OK? 

Why not take this as an opportunity to help out those in real need of support in your own community and do something for them rather than take an unnecessary journey and unjustifiable risk and potentially take a hospital bed in a region which has very few resources?

3
 Basemetal 17 Mar 2020
In reply to Graham Briffett:

Umm... Hospitals aren't swamped yet. 195 cases reported in Scotland as of today- 5  in Highland, 22 in Grampian ( cases, not hospitalisations). Even if you're being cautious this would be a good time to get out. Potentially fewer queues on trade routes too if this thread is representative of current thinking...

6
In reply to Basemetal:

There are 7 or maybe 8 ICU beds throughout the entire highlands. Things are going to change very dramatically over the next few days and week. If you end up in any kind of bed in hospital you may not be taking the place of somebody today, but you may very well be by the weekend.

2
In reply to Basemetal:

Oh, and there are currently 15 cases in Shetland. A great many people from Shetland who need hospital treatment will need to be moved down to Raigmore in Inverness.

Post edited at 20:05
In reply to kenneM:

Looks like a willney be queuing on the ben this weekend. Ta 

6
 Basemetal 17 Mar 2020
In reply to David Rose:

> No one can ever honestly say they won't get into some kind of trouble winter climbing - no matter how careful or experienced.    

There's an important point here, what you say is absolutely true. But it also misses the point. No-one who buys a lottery ticket can honestly say they won't win a big prize.

In both cases the individual faces a low probability occurrence, but in both cases the population will experience that outcome and read about it in the press.

I don't go climbing thinking " it won't happen to me"... especially since it has already in the past and I know it could happen again... But I do know it is unlikely and take the measures I feel appropriate to minimise my risks. That's part of the fascination of climbing if I'm honest.

We can tend to flip in our personal thinking from overconfident to catastrophic, but the statistics provide evidence for a more accurate appreciation of risks involved here.

 mik82 17 Mar 2020
In reply to Basemetal:

So likely already 2000 cases in the community, and maybe 8000 in 4 days time.  Just look at the initial attitudes of people in other countries, and look at them now. 

In reply to kenneM:

Closest shop only? Unlucky if someone is now unemployed and their local is the equivalent of Waitrose. Crazy days...

In reply to ianstevens:

Yeah, going to Stanage Popular will be the equivalent of an expedition to the Greater Ranges, slim chance of rescue.

With the reduction in flying and driving, global cooling will ensue and we’ll need double mountaineering boots to attempt Xmas Crack in July. So no need to go to the Greater Ranges to get the authentic experience. 

1
In reply to kenneM:

Good reason not to go is considerable avalanche forecast in Lochaber on N to E slopes above 800m. Obviously could  change by the weekend or whenever you want to go. Covid is one thing and I’m not sure people have yet got to grips with what it all means (it’s clearly an evolving situation) but we shouldn’t ignore the ‘normal’ fundamentals.

Personally, I’m kind of demotivated with all this stuff going on. Not too fussed about Scottish ice either (more into the mixed). Thinking might be better to leave it, see how things pan out and then go sport climbing, if that’s still possible, once it’s warmer. Get fit for the trad season which we might never have. Unless this suppression strategy or whatever it is turns out to be spectacularly successful...

 HardenClimber 18 Mar 2020
In reply to Basemetal:

One of the problems is that staying at home is a risk for A&E attendance, and DIY a significant contributor.

Not going 'climbing' does not reduce your risk of an accident to zero (and, for some, might carry higher risk - seeing some folk with tools).

On another tack, being a climber might mean you are fitter and less likely to fall ill.

 doz 18 Mar 2020
In reply to HardenClimber:

> One of the problems is that staying at home is a risk for A&E attendance

Annual estimate for folk in UK ending up in A&E after falling downstairs is 250,000

For a wee bit of perspective

1
 Red Rover 18 Mar 2020
In reply to doz:

Absolute numbers don't mean much you have to divide by the number of people taking part in the activity.

 Basemetal 19 Mar 2020
In reply to Red Rover:

OTOH, absolute numbers are exactly what you need for resourcing & bed spaces, regardless of any notion of hazardousness.

1
 Red Rover 19 Mar 2020
In reply to Basemetal:

Yes definitely. But when deciding on whether to do an activity, it's numbers per participant that matters.

 HardenClimber 19 Mar 2020
In reply to Red Rover:

number of participants X duration of exposure is probably key.

taking just stairs that is 0.4% of whole population (which will include non-stair users). We don't know how much time people spend on stairs, but not that long (nor will everyone use stairs). (and wait till you start on diy...)

The point is, being at home is more dangerous than we think (as is climbing, mountainerring, caving etc), we just ignore it.

Also, if this goes on for 4-6 months the health consequences of marked inactivity (weight gain, loss of fitness) could become another factor in burden.

 mBob8 19 Mar 2020
In reply to DaveHK:

Having read the same statement and in agreement with it, I strongly feel that minimising risk means simply lower the grade and be cautious as always, yes accidents can still happen, but if we all lived on those chances then nothing would ever happen. For example a climber capable of much higher grades going to do the Aonach Eagach is a sensible option that minimises risk, effectively acts as social distancing, and maintains a healthy outdoor pursuit.

 DaveHK 19 Mar 2020
In reply to mBob8:

> I strongly feel that minimising risk means simply lower the grade and be cautious as always, yes accidents can still happen, but if we all lived on those chances then nothing would ever happen. For example a climber capable of much higher grades going to do the Aonach Eagach is a sensible option that minimises risk, effectively acts as social distancing, and maintains a healthy outdoor pursuit.

I'm not convinced that lowering the grade lowers the risk. One is still exposed to most of the risks associated with winter climbing and there's probably a psychological effect where one becomes less careful and vigilant on easier terrain.

 mBob8 19 Mar 2020
In reply to kenneM:

Given the MRT advice to minimise risk, I'm selecting venue, aspect and route carefully. As I always do, but perhaps reducing the grade a bit and not going for anything bold. Simple. Also, as we are not currently like France etc, nothing wrong with going into the hills safely. I dont live my life on the minor chance of accidents. As a paraglider pilot I can also relay that similar advice is given by the BHPA, minimise risk but as it stands and we are (mostly) still in work there is no need to stay grounded. Further to that, regardless of your job or whether it was your fault, accidents in the workplace are far more common in general (and in my own experience) than during spare time and hobbies. Stay safe and enjoy "healthy outdoor persuits"!

 emily roo 19 Mar 2020
In reply to kenneM:

Coronavirus or not...

As a mountain professional who has spent a lot of time in the Scottish hills this winter, I would very much like to see folk taking the avalanche risk a bit more seriously! Climbers are getting away with some unnecessarily exciting approaches when there are definitely other, less threatened (although maybe less hard and less classic) routes in condition! I'm not MRT but have already been involved in one serious avalanche rescue this season and have seen several very lucky escapes!

Snow changes with the weather, the avalanche forecast wont predict everything, keep your eyes open and notice whats happening underneath your feet. Good ice and climbing connys doesn't make the walk in and out less dangerous! 😊😊

 Basemetal 19 Mar 2020
In reply to Red Rover:

> Yes definitely. But when deciding on whether to do an activity, it's numbers per participant that matters.

Statistically yes, when the popuations from which the statistics derived allow significant results and you're clear about what statistical significance means. The numbers are just that... bare numbers. The detail, specifics and circumstances are what matter and are invisible in the gross frequency expressed by a single statistic.

There are simply too many variables in play to allow meaningful statistical expression of complex (ie most real) phenomena so idealisations and simplifications are necessary. Stats are good for limited variable high population correlations, and still need careful handling. Clinical stats are an interesting field, but all too often degenerate into learning how to enter data into Micrsoft SPSS or similar stat.an. software. The real world difficulty is the impossibility of starting with identical individuals and conditions in your trial and then differentiating between causation and mere correlation. Same applies with HSE stats  and climbing (and any real-world behaviour) stats.

If all conditions were identical and all individuals the same then statistics could be valid. But they aren't and the confidence level in the statistic is seldom published alongside the frequency figure. The interpretation of the frequency figure as a probablity is itself a fascinating topic.

The upshot is that even precise-looking stats are usually very vague indicators. I would always recommend looking behind the numbers!

 Basemetal 19 Mar 2020
In reply to mBob8:

Higher grades can mean safer falls (steeper, fewer ledges to hit, less avalanchable ground, pre-selected skill level, etc). Advice on winter safety often includes "get up the grades as quickly as you can".

Most seasons, walkers and Grade 1&2 feature highly in incident stats (admittedly the highest grade climbers are walkers and 'low grade climbers' for access and egress). The population in lower grade activities is also higher, of course.

That, and folk stuck on Aonach Eagach... difficulty level and escapability don't always coincide.

[EDIT =iSpelling]

Post edited at 12:16
 jkarran 19 Mar 2020
In reply to Basemetal:

> Since you asked for thoughts, I'm not planning to do things any differently. Nor do I expect my behaviour to make any difference.

Your actions really can make a significant difference. All our actions can. Relatively small sacrifices now really can save hundreds of thousands of lives, potentially millions if enough of us are willing to make them right now and to support and encourage others to do so as well.

> I'm not being callous or cavalier, but I see a need to point out the trend to over-reaction. Winter climbers are a small population, so even "if every climber did X...", we're speaking of effectively zero population consequences.

Winter climbers travel long distances for non essential reasons, normally that's fine (ish). These aren't normal times.

jk

3
 smally 19 Mar 2020
In reply to kenneM:

Gonnae no dae that!

How no?

Jist GONNAE NO!

 Basemetal 19 Mar 2020
In reply to jkarran:

I get what you're saying and do really appreciate the motivation behind it. But I honestly don't agree with its blanket application across all locations and activities.

I don't believe hundreds of thousands of lives are at stake, let alone millions. I'm much more concerned about the effects of inappropriate responses to COVID-19 than about the disease. Decision making under uncertainty is difficult, and the stream of inaccurate reporting and catastrophic thinking exemplifies this. Legitimate uncertainties are continually being presented in their "worst case" forms and this is fuelling harmful over-reactions.

I fear the over-reaction because it seems there will be little in reserve for the next big thing, which might not wait till we're clear of this epsiode. Anyone fancy a terrorist cyber-attack now?

It's still worth comparing COVID-19's epidemiology with the usual viruses, as well as the big names of the past. The results are quite illuminating. It is bad... but let's be objective.

And on the mundane climbing question... personally -but true for many - my typical winter climbing day has no human contact beyond my partner and doesn't usually need refuelling (at the PATP ASDA station I would use anyway). So is a bunker mentality really what you're advising, or is there still a "common sense" strategy?... and what should that be?

Post edited at 13:58
4
 Smith42 19 Mar 2020
In reply to C Witter:

Irresponsible, selfish and unacceptable behaviour.

5
 ScraggyGoat 19 Mar 2020

To throw into the mix;  Scottish ski centers are staying open.........and are obviously hoping to draw custom from a wide geographic area e.g. Glen Shee will result in Perthshire/ Tayside/ Dundee populations and Deeside / Aberdeen(shire) populations intermingling on the slopes.

So if your a 'planker' come on over and try to effectively social distance on a busy slope and T bars, lifts etc. If you're a 'pointer'  meeting nobody, from many response on this thread - don't do it!

But we were never going to get consistency anyway, so it shouldn't be a surprise!

 jkarran 19 Mar 2020
In reply to Basemetal:

> It's still worth comparing COVID-19's epidemiology with the usual viruses, as well as the big names of the past. The results are quite illuminating. It is bad... but let's be objective.

I think I am being objective, I'm certainly trying to work past my instinctive pessimism to alternatives but I keep coming back to the fact if we don't get really good control of this in the next few days then my wife is going to be giving birth in the 19th century come May. Yes that's a selfish concern but it's an illuminating perspective on the additional challenges irresponsible actions will deliver beyond the virus itself and it's a concern that multiplies out far beyond maternity wards. Also if we suffer a cascading economic collapse we do not have the capacity to feed ourselves on this Island and we cannot rely on aid being forthcoming, this has to be prevented, full-stop, neither of the government's approaches (kill 500k or hide everyone) look likely to as yet. Our position is very very precarious right now and we all need to think about the choices we make, whether they make it a little more so or a little less so.

jk

1
In reply to jkarran:

I think it’s much more nuanced. Yes there is always a risk of an accident, particularly due to there being more objective risk in winter, but how high is that risk and can it be mitigated? Appropriate experience, crag and route choice, etc. These things can be managed by those who are competent so that the risk of an accident is remote. It’s what people should always do anyway. If anyone is not sure they can manage the risks, they should stay at home.

Statistically, accidents happen but the statistics are based on the average size and competence of the climbing population in an average season. It seems that many people are staying put, so straight away statistically there should be fewer accidents. If the less experienced in particular stay put, there should be even fewer. I’m not convinced that experienced teams going for suitable objectives add to the accident rate in a statistically significant way. Probably a lot less so than the additional DIY accidents from people staying at home but that’s just speculation...

As regards risk of transmission, it’s a question of probability. If someone works at home now, lives alone or with a partner who also works at home, avoids crowded places, washes hands and so on, it’s not likely they will catch it. If that person’s climbing partner is the same, that’s a low risk team. They then travel, together or separately, using gloves and contactless at petrol stations, and stay preferably somewhere away from people (perhaps in a van) or in a hostel, which will probably be fairly empty anyway, where they take lots of precautions. Again, the risk of picking up the virus should be low. You then have to consider the risk of passing it on to someone if you work at home and so on. It all adds up to relatively low risk. Not zero risk of course but nothing is.

Now if someone works in a busy workplace, uses public transport to get to work or works in a hospital or care home, clearly the risk profile for them is much higher.

The government has issued blanket advice as that’s the safest thing to do but it is advice and people are free to make their own decisions based on their own circumstances. The reality is that not everyone is at the same risk of picking it up and spreading it. I think people are losing track of these nuances.

I suspect the economic damage will in itself lead to a reduction in travel and leisure activities as some people won’t be able to afford it...

2
 HardenClimber 20 Mar 2020
In reply to Misha:

It is probably quite easy to justify going on a trip on a personal level but (after all, we justify going winter climbing...):

1) The virus is hitting harder than we appreciated. Younger people are getting ill though most mortality is still in older people (50-59 year olds 1%, 60-69 3.5% and so on).

2) We are really going to radically change our behavious as a society in the next few days...what we do today will affect ICU bed availability in 2-3 weeks time.

3) On problem with trips is that is 'normal' behaviour and we need to be moving away from that, partly as an adjustment and partly as a sign (he's gone climbing, I'll go to thatt party). Perhaps that is the really important step.

4) Long travel will have a logistic impact on others

I've cancelled my planned trip.

I'm surprised at the governments low key response so far

1
 Basemetal 20 Mar 2020
In reply to HardenClimber:

> 3) On problem with trips is that is 'normal' behaviour and we need to be moving away from that, partly as an adjustment and partly as a sign (he's gone climbing, I'll go to thatt party). Perhaps that is the really important step.

Really?  Don't we need all the healthy normality we can get right now? Curtailing real freedom and choice for virtue signalling is rather a sad trade. Maybe I'm out of touch with social norms, but this is hardly the spirit we say we admire. I'm not advocating defiance, and we are as a household doing everything that will help, but not capitulating to tabloid scaremongering wherever it comes from.

> 4) Long travel will have a logistic impact on others

Maybe, though I'm not sure how.  Lots of climbers are fortunate to live in Fort William area, Aviemore, and areas with local crags.

Post edited at 10:07
1
 rogerwebb 20 Mar 2020
In reply to Misha:

For information;

Dundonnell MRT been involved in 3 callouts this month involving 5 hill days and nights for members of the team. These days involved up to 30 people on the hill. A couple in the van, police officers and two helicopters. The team includes people across the north of Scotland. Within the team people came from up to 60 miles from various small villages and Inverness, supporting teams 100 miles. Travel was in groups that do not normally socialise in various vehicles, briefings within crowded  vans and at times various parties were hunkered down in bothy bags and otherwise through operational necessity were in very close contact with each other. Forgetting for the moment the casualty if any one of those people involved in those call outs was a carrier we may have a problem. That problem of course extends beyond the teams to their work colleagues, families. and various small Highland villages not forgetting the helicopter crews and police officers.

Of those 3 callouts 2 involved experienced parties.

I am the last person in the world to discourage winter climbing and I don’t say don’t go but do not be lulled into a false sense that it won’t happen to you because you are experienced. It is time to avoid those routes where you think ‘if this pops I am in serious trouble’ and stick to those where a fall leads to a dangle and abuse from your partner for being an idiot.

Strange times and right now I wish I was in Torridon on a route I have been waiting for for 5 years (which is actually quite a short time compared to some I have waited for)

Roger

 C Witter 20 Mar 2020
In reply to Smith42:

> Irresponsible, selfish and unacceptable behaviour.

I don't think you are qualified to judge my behaviour. Kindly refrain from being a complete tool.

7
 HardenClimber 20 Mar 2020
In reply to Basemetal:

> Really?  Don't we need all the healthy normality we can get right now? Curtailing real freedom and choice for virtue signalling is rather a sad trade. Maybe I'm out of touch with social norms, but this is hardly the spirit we say we admire. I'm not advocating defiance, and we are as a household doing everything that will help, but not capitulating to tabloid scaremongering wherever it comes from.

My tabloid: 

https://www.imperial.ac.uk/media/imperial-college/medicine/sph/ide/gida-fellowships/Imperial-College-COVID19-NPI-modelling-16-03-2020.pdf?fbclid=IwAR1GLHK2aMogYjEhGq1L8kQRvp-94OzR2pMMyRSZpeXxw288txKpWkGL9E4

My Gossip from colleagues:

'What I wasn't prepared for was the number of seriously ill 30 and 40 year olds we're seeing...' (London, but in close contact with Italian Drs...)

> Maybe, though I'm not sure how.  Lots of climbers are fortunate to live in Fort William area, Aviemore, and areas with local crags.

 Basemetal 20 Mar 2020
In reply to HardenClimber:

Thanks for that link, it's a very useful paper that clearly brings out the areas of uncertainty in assessment and consequent prognosis.

It helps differentiate betewen reacting appropriately and over-reacting, While authorities have a duty to publish policy guidelines for the whole country covering all categories of people in all locations and activities, individuals have responsibility too. Some, sadly,  won't take any responsibility at all and some will abrogate all responsibility to the state (whether by thinking "they should do something" or by unthinkingly following whatever the state tells us).

The difficulty with the self isolation /social distancing policy is the asymptomatic stage of this (or any) infection. Should we immediately require the full quarantine protocol for everyone, regardless, since they may be pre-symptomatic yet already a carrier? Logically yes, but it is practicably unfeasible. This is not the official guideline. So how much risk is the official approach accepting, and on what assumptions?  

Yesterday, shopping in my local supermarket, the checkout operator had her hands all over her face and mouth while waiting on a slow customer packing. An unconscious stress reaction, but what can you do?

My own point of view is to be as informed as you can and do what makes a difference. In a number of offshore incidents that resulted in headlines and multiple deaths, the survivors were those who remained aware and thought for themselves when the 'official guidance' was tragically unhelpful. You can't legislate for this  -and providence plays a part - but usually it means being more careful than is recommended! (Exclamation mark because I'm guessing by my dislikes folk think I'm advocating the opposite).

But changing register, to talk of climbing as a pastime, I do see it as neutral to helpful to get out into the hills or crags for a day in the midst of the current crisis.

 HardenClimber 20 Mar 2020
In reply to Basemetal:

Thanks for that link, it's a very useful paper that clearly brings out the areas of uncertainty in assessment and consequent prognosis.

Interesting start... most professional are shocked at the compelling case for increased restriction as the headline message... obviously with further discussion.

DoI: 1) Have access to moorland over my back wall. 2) Retirement coming to an abrupt end, and it will be hard enough without having to triage...

In reply to rogerwebb:

I would certainly agree with your ‘if this pops’ comment. I try to avoid such situations anyway but know what you mean. Appropriate crag and route choice and having the mental strength to back off is part of being experienced but it’s easy to get complacent. I’ve fallen off a couple of times on steep mixed, not something I intend to make a habit of but it was into space and definitely in the ‘you plonker’ category.

As I mentioned above, I’m not really motivated to go winter climbing at the moment for various reasons, so staying put but if anyone does head out, stay safe and enjoy.

Post edited at 01:39
3
 alex_arthur 21 Mar 2020
In reply to kenneM:This is very simple. Don’t go climbing. Stay at home. Exercise at home or near home. Avoid unnecessary journeys. Follow distancing advice. The crags and mountainS will still be there after we get through this.  

4
 nufkin 21 Mar 2020
In reply to alex_arthur:

>  The crags and mountainS will still be there after we get through this.  

The snow won't be, though

(I only mention this to illustrate why not going is an extra wrench)

 kenneM 23 Mar 2020
In reply to kenneM:
Since starting this thread last Tuesday I haven’t really kept track. Travelling to go climbing now just seems a ridiculous idea. Not even sure what I was thinking of back at the start of last week.

 One of my normal rock climbing mates is a doctor and even if what he proclaims is just half true the fear I have now for my parents is worse than anything I have known. 

What is beyond doubt for me though is that seeing the campers in Glen Coe and cars Llanberis on the news today has made me feel frankly ashamed to be a climber. I hope in the weeks to come those that just felt the need to climb so great to have gone against all the advice take a moment and think - what if I hadn’t ...who might have lived ? The thing is you’ll probably never know who’s grandmother’s ventilator was used up!

Post edited at 00:04
2
 Euge 23 Mar 2020
In reply to kenneM:

> What is beyond doubt for me though is that seeing the campers in Glen Coe and cars Llanberis on the news today has made me feel frankly ashamed to be a climber.

They weren't climbers!! 

What really gets me is that there seemed to be more people than normal going up Snowdon!!!

Be safe

Euge


This topic has been archived, and won't accept reply postings.