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Old 05.11.2013, 14:12
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Independence, safety, risks and consequences

To keep the thread concerning the rescue work in France clear, but give those of us who are 'non-involved' but interested members, this thread is a chance to air relevant thoughts. Off-topic because it isn't necessarily a Swiss problem.
If the Mods think this is another lousy idea of mine, please delete.

I suggest that those emotionally involved with Carol just put this on 'Ignore' from the beginning.

Do you take risks? Have you been involved in an accident? Positive or negative ideas regarding the involvement of the press.

Last edited by Longbyt; 05.11.2013 at 23:40.
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Old 05.11.2013, 14:17
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Re: Independence, safety, risks and consequences

Good idea.
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Old 05.11.2013, 14:20
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Re: Independence, safety, risks and consequences

Now that I am a mother, I certainly am not taking many risks. I have fears about what would I do if and how would I react if I were to be in some sort of horrible emergency situation (avalanche, car in deep water, etc.).

I think if you reach out to the internet for help in solving a problem, you can't expect to only let in what you want to hear. The internet can help bring the search to many more people, but in doing so, you increase the number of people who are interested in the story and its outcome, and sometime this might bring unintended consequences. I think if you are close to the situation, you have to either try and ignore them or focus efforts elsewhere. Of course, I have never been involved in a missing person case like this...
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Old 05.11.2013, 14:37
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Re: Independence, safety, risks and consequences

Yes , I regularly take risks in mountains, you have to be able to effect your own rescue so go as a group is quite an important rule, however something experienced people will ignore.

I often go on my own & accept the risk that I take, ultimately I may not come home, it's something mountaineers have accepted since the beginning of time.

The great thing about France is you can do what you like, it's one of the few countries where such freedom exists, however your on your own so be prepared to spend a couple of nights camped out if the weather gets bad, rescue helicopters only fly in good weather .
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Old 05.11.2013, 14:45
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Re: Independence, safety, risks and consequences

As the other thread ambles towards it's almost inevitable tragic conclusion I hope this can raise awareness in the importance of going into the mountains well prepared, with a mobile phone and preferably not alone.

It doesn't even have to be the mountains, a former colleague of mine was stung by a bee whilst out jogging and suffered an allergic reaction. He was alone in some woods and that was where he died. If only he'd had a phone on him it might have turned out differently.
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Old 05.11.2013, 14:59
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Re: Independence, safety, risks and consequences

I ride motorcycles in the mountains.

I always carry a cell phone (turned on), and have REGA insurance.

Tom
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Old 05.11.2013, 15:07
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Re: Independence, safety, risks and consequences

I talked to my wife about the thread last night and we both agreed that, in future, when either of us go on long runs, we'll jot down a quick message on the board by our back door giving a rough idea of the route.

As some of my runs are up to five hours long, and in winter, this seems like a good backup to carrying a mobile phone, especially, if you bump your head after a fall.
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Old 05.11.2013, 15:15
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Re: Independence, safety, risks and consequences

This situation has made me think again about my safety in Switzerland and here in the UK. As an independent traveller I have been out on by own in relatively isolated places. On occasions I haven't seen anyone else for maybe an hour or more. This is more than enough time to have an accident and end up out of sight of passers-by.

The remoteness and therefore risk, is part of the attraction of hiking in Switzerland. Sadly, accidents will continue to happen.

I have travel insurance, Rega cover and a mobile phone.

I can't say that I have always advised someone of my plans for the day, or updated them if things change. Things do change during the day depending on factors such as the weather or what you encounter along the way.

I am not completely aware of the technicalities of tracing someone by their mobile phone. What happens if you are out of coverage by the phone provider, the battery goes flat or the phone is turned off?

I guess that it would be sensible to have someone designated to check on your whereabouts if you are overdue, rather than just leaving it to chance that a friend or relative becomes concerned.
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Old 05.11.2013, 15:20
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Re: Independence, safety, risks and consequences

we've been meaning to get REGA and TCS, perhaps it's time to do rather than think...

I was never in a situation like this, but back in 2009 when we first moved back to Germany (the Munich area) I went off to visit a friend near Salzburg. We were still in temporary housing (with no phone, or at least no number that I knew), I think I had a mobile phone but my OH didn't. Well, getting on the autobahn from Salzburg back to Munich there was stau so I thought I would head off and go on other roads. Big mistake. Since I had no other maps I was totally dependent on the GPS. I got driving on some mountain highways (loose term there, I think it was officially called the Alpine Highway) that were twisty, turny, and seemed to go no where. And it seemed like I was the only person on the road - no one behind me (I was going slow enough that normally they would have been lined up!) and seldom a car going in the opposite direction. I was scared

At one point I did pull to the side of the road as 1 of the kids (then 5, 3 and newborn) was complaining of getting ill - and at that point, I will admit, I started to cry. I felt I was stuck and I didn't know how to get back to civilization! My OHs family weren't reachable, either, for some reason they were all out of the country that weekend. Although I don't know what calling them would have helped much, except they could get in touch with my husband and let him know I was ok...

Needless to say, I did finally make it back to the autobahn, and my 2.5 hour home turned out to be a 6 hour odyssey with 3 little kids in the back seat. That was not fun. Of course, I was never in much danger, but there was that feeling that just 1 little thing could turn and the situation could go from bad to worse.

I have learned that Stau on the Autobahn is not always the worst alternative!
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Old 05.11.2013, 15:22
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Re: Independence, safety, risks and consequences

As an former scout, it was drummed into us to not go into the mountains alone. Ever.

Also, to carry a small pack containing items for an emergency; food, water, waterproofs, whistle, torch, matches/lighter with a bit of dry material, first aid kit and, depending on how remote you were going, a small shelter.

It should pack into a small daypack and not be cumbersome to carry, plus, if there is more than one of you the pack can be split up.

Obviously, nowadays people add stuff like mobile phones and other GPS gadgets but many of them are reliant on batteries and could let you down when you most need them.

You don't need to be Bear Grylls but a few common-sense items might be the difference between being found alive or dead.
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Old 05.11.2013, 15:30
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Re: Independence, safety, risks and consequences

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As an former scout, it was drummed into us to not go into the mountains alone. Ever.
And even more pertinent when you are an adult in charge of small children.

I am often surprised by the paths I see being taken by a lone parent with a little one in a back pack. Dealing with any sort of emergency, when it involves a small child, is just twice as difficult.

I stick to the mountain motorways (as I call them) when I am out with the children on my own and we are never far from a farm or a hutte. And I never do a new walk up in the mountains without the OH. This originally developed because life is very unpredictable with our autistic second son and I worried about a situation where one person was injured and what would second son be doing whilst we were trying to sort it out ... but I quickly realised that as a general rule, until the children are both bigger, it really isn't a bad idea in general.
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Old 05.11.2013, 15:34
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Re: Independence, safety, risks and consequences

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As an former scout, it was drummed into us to not go into the mountains alone. Ever.
I've done the U.K. Mountain Leadership training (but moved here before taking the final assessment) and one of our instructors said the best way to practice was to go up into the mountains, in bad weather, in the middle of the night, alone and then get lost and try and find your way to safety.

I did argue that going alone wasn't a good idea so I did the same thing but with a couple of others rather than alone.

I have been involved in a few accidents in the mountains (not as a participant) but as a rescuer and in the most serious of these involving a 300ft fall, a lower by ropes, and later, a helicopter rescue, it was impossible to get a signal on a phone.
Phones are useful but shouldn't be relied on as:
  • The cold can kill the batteries.
  • They are easy to lose.
  • You can't always get a signal - especially in the mountains.
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Old 05.11.2013, 15:34
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Re: Independence, safety, risks and consequences

I must say I can't help being angry at those people who put their lives in danger without thinking about the potential consequences, and who then risk the lives of other persons who have to come rescue them.

How many professional rescuers and mountain guides died trying to rescur ill-equipped idiots doing off-track skiing and so on?
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Old 05.11.2013, 15:37
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Re: Independence, safety, risks and consequences

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I've done the U.K. Mountain Leadership training (but moved here before taking the final assessment) and one of our instructors said the best way to practice was to go up into the mountains, in bad weather, in the middle of the night, alone and then get lost and try and find your way to safety.
Was he an ex army guy? Sounds like the bloke we had. Headcase. (but in a good way).
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Old 05.11.2013, 15:39
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Re: Independence, safety, risks and consequences

I go hiking in potentially dangerous areas away from lifts and human traffic but I don't take any precautions as I believe in the power of prayer and radiesthesia. Sorry for the sarcasm

Ok something constructive now from top of my head-

- 2 mobile phones (as the LED light on them is very handy) and a dedicated LED torch as backup. Getting lost in the dark on the mountain is not fun.
- Rega membership (a must if you hike).
- Map
- Hiking partner
- First aid kit
- Sleeping bag
- Extra clothes...water proof (It is all about layering).
- Spare water.
- Calorie dense food (student food is very handy)
- Lighter & match box
- Rescue blanket x 2
- Whistle x 2

What I will be adding to my list is some sort of GPS device, improve my map reading skills and maybe a light tent.

Edit- Found this link http://www.myswissalps.com/switzerla...ng.asp?lang=EN
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Old 05.11.2013, 15:54
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Re: Independence, safety, risks and consequences

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I have been involved in a few accidents in the mountains...the most serious of these involving a 300ft fall, a lower by ropes, and later, a helicopter rescue, it was impossible to get a signal on a phone.
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One friend broke his fibula in 'hill-walking country' with his teenage son. No Mobile reception. They used one 'walking stick' to splint it and walked all the way down to a hut where they had Mobile reception. He was collected by Rega helicopter from there.
Son-in-law in a group in alpine territory. There was a fall of rock. One woman was badly injured. At the point where the accident happened it was also too foggy for heli to land. The woman was carried down on a stretcher to a point below the cloud layer. Several hours after the accident, the Rega picked her up and flew her to hospital.
Happy endings but horrifying when the events took place.

Maybe we should look on the 'defensive' side.
My Rule of Thumb. If you can't walk up it, you shouldn't be walking down it! 1100m downhill (and on the map you only have to glance at the track with all the wiggles to guess how steep it must be) is quite a LOT unless you are used to it...The thigh muscles don't like downhill much and the more tired they get, the less co-ordination you have in your walking, and the more likely it is that an accident will occur.
What does Longbyt do?
Boots - always. We don't carry a flashlight - perhaps we should - but, up till now, we have always had plenty of time to get home before dark. Windproof jacket, quick-drying trousers. In the rucksack, besides food and drink, there is waterproof clothing, head covering, cotton scarf, extra pullover, sunglasses etc. I almost always take my walking 'poles/sticks' with me, although mostly only use them for more than about 800m downhill at one stretch. Also plasters, needle and cotton, pen-knife, tweezers, small bottle of disinfectant, insect stuff in summer, a whistle and a 'aluminium foil' type of sheeting. (the latter is also wonderfully 'warming' if you fall off your bike and break your collar-bone in the rain). We always carry a map and although Mr L is the 'navigator', if I look at the map I usually know where we are! Hiking in rough country in Greece - no roads, no villages, no people, no Rega and no mountain rescue service, I always carried a special knee elastic bandage.

Accidents do happen. Some could be avoided, others can't.
Together with other numbers folk have given, you can put the Police Emergency Number 117 on your mobile. The chaps on the phone are experienced, keep their heads, have all the other necessary information at their fingertips and will either give you the number you need or put you straight through.
These days we usually carry Garmins (one each!!) but we still usually have a map as well.
As an Oldie, I think I'd say that one of the most important things is to know one's limitations - and remember that the limit gets 'lower and lower' with increasing age. Poor light, steep slopes, narrow paths, slippery stones or wet leaves - fine twenty years ago...
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Old 05.11.2013, 15:55
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Re: Independence, safety, risks and consequences

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I must say I can't help being angry at those people who put their lives in danger without thinking about the potential consequences, and who then risk the lives of other persons who have to come rescue them.

How many professional rescuers and mountain guides died trying to rescur ill-equipped idiots doing off-track skiing and so on?
Very few, however it can happen. There is never zero risk in the mountains.

The first rule in any rescue attempt is don't put yourself in danger it's not worth it.

I remember the first time I was roped up with a mountain guide, I asked why he just held the safety rope rather than fixed it to his harness. His reply ' I have to be able to let go'
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Old 05.11.2013, 16:02
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Re: Independence, safety, risks and consequences

Yes very shocking. I have seen people with toddlers on those high backpack things walking on extremely narrow steep paths and struggling. I would hate to have such high centre of gravity.

Recently saw a woman in tears because she only wore flip flops. Her guide book said that it was an easy hike down. Could not take the lift as the last one had already left
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Old 05.11.2013, 16:06
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Re: Independence, safety, risks and consequences

Following on from what has already been mentioned - be prepared. Scouts and DofE taught me well - but a lot of those skills faded as I didn't hike much in the UK.

They all come back to you once you are in the mountains. And the basics remain the same. Prepare the route, your equipment and your group. You can hike alone but if something happens you are in a very dangerous situation.

A run I did recently involved crossing an alpine pass - at night - when very tired. I am glad I did that in a group and not alone!

As for the route - THINK. If you are heading UP think of how you will come DOWN - both as planned but also if the weather changes - if visibility drops (and it can do, quickly) think about how you will drop out of it quickly and safely. And if you do hike alone give someone the route - and an approximate time you'll be done.

Don't let any of this spoil your enjoyment of god's playgrond
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Old 05.11.2013, 16:08
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Re: Independence, safety, risks and consequences

In case anyone finds this thread by searching for hiking or safety info later, this basic Hiking in Switzerland thread still has a lot of useful info in it.
Masses of links to the main Swiss Hiking sites.

I still have 'editing rights' on the second post, so if anyone finds links which don't work, let me know and I'll try to update sometime.
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