A tragic sledging incident and other risky activities

By AnthonyLast updated: Wednesday, February 4, 2009 • Save & ShareOne Comment

It is interesting to speculate whether the decision, made partially on safety grounds, to shut schools in many areas of the UK may have exposed children to more risks. For example, yesterday I went sledging with a group of children, who had a great time hurtling down a hill and tumbling into snow. However, this incident is not a sledging incident, and to present it as such is slightly disengenous:

A teenage girl has died after suffering serious head injuries when a makeshift sledge crashed in South Yorkshire.
The girls had been using an improvised metal sledge, believed to have been made from an upturned Land Rover roof, which is understood to have gone through a barbed wire fence.

It then struck a separate section of fence in a field being used for cattle grazing.

Last week I did a circuit of the Glyders in winter conditions [Picture]. Some people were well-equipped, but there was also a large proportion of people badly equipped, carrying no winter equipment such as ice axes or crampons. This included large groups of teenagers being led by adults. I do not know how many may have been at risk due to limited information and experience.

Two individuals tragically died in a horrific fall:

Christopher McCallion, 29, and brother James, 35, are understood to have been training for endurance events when they fell as far as 1,000ft in freezing conditions.

They were discovered yesterday morning, having fallen from the notorious blackspot on the mountain’s west side at Clogwyn Coch.
It was thought the pair were crossing the treacherous stretch without ice axes or climbing crampons as the weather changed for the worse.

The Radio One DJ Chris Moyles was on Snowdon at the time.

Temperatures on the mountains drop about 2C for every 1,000ft and among those caught out by the conditions at the weekend was Radio One DJ Chris Moyles. He was training on Snowdon’s icy upper slopes to climb Mount Kilimanjaro for Comic Relief. Moyles and a team of BBC colleagues, who were well equipped and accompanied by expert mountaineers, took seven-and-a-half hours to get off Snowdon instead of the anticipated four.

Producer Aled Jones, from Aberystwyth, who was among Moyles’ party, said they encountered a group of about 30 people dressed in nothing more than jumpers that had to be rescued.

Snowdon warden Sam Roberts, who has worked in the mountains for 35 years, said it would be a “very generous estimate” to suggest even half of the weekend’s 2,000 or so visitors were properly prepared.

The 63-year-old warden said: “I have noticed more mobile phones on the mountains than ice axes in recent years. People rely more on mobile phones than themselves. It would be a very generous estimate to say 50% of the people who go on the mountains have ice axes or anything at all to deal with the icy conditions.”

In fact, when I put on my crampons and get out my ice axe I often encounter quizzical stares from passing walkers, wearing three season boots or even trainers, not even rigid enough to kick decent steps in hard snow. I’m amazed there aren’t more deaths.

Filed in Hill Walking, Media, Risk

One Response to “A tragic sledging incident and other risky activities”

Comment from Colin
Time 5/2/2009 at 1:46 pm

I’ve been up Snowdon on a November day – decided to turn back because I knew I woulnd.t make it up & back by the time the daylight had gone. I sae lots of people walking up – trainers, jeans & sweatshirt over shoulders – and the “Hi – is the cafe open & the train running?” question – answer “no it closes in October till Easter”.
And they still carry on up…