danger zone

on Tower Ridge, Ben Nevis, Scotland, Apr. 23, 2012Prior to the ICMS meeting last year in Edinburgh, I spent two days in the Highlands, first in Glencoe climbing Bidean nam Bian, then on the Ben itself, with the classic Tower Ridge route. These were fantastic climbs in still wintry Scottish conditions and I enjoyed them tremendously without feeling any proximity with danger at any time (although I backed down from a snow corridor on Bidean nam Bian for missing an extra iceaxe…) On the previous weekends, there were alas two accidents on those same routes, first a group of four taken by an avalanche near Bidean nam Bian and second a lone climber on the Tower Ridge route… While climbing solo always involves some degree of objective danger, especially on exposed ridges like Tower Ridge, the casualties on Bidean nam Bian sounded more like “shit happens“. An unlikely and very rare accident cause by an accumulation of circumstances that were just too hard to predict. And to avoid (except by spending the day at the Clachaig Inn, which has its own risk!)

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