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Thread: Is it time to limit access to the Alps?

  1. #1
    Goon
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    ‹bermensch John Bailey's Avatar
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    There's a recurring theme in the press of trying to restrict access to anywhere that is potentially dangerous. It's interesting that the same press is often complaining about the "nanny state" on one issue and simultaneously saying that "something must be done" on another.

    My natural inclination would be that in most cases there should be a general presumption that access should not be restricted. Where there are obvious environmental reasons and in particular where alternative routes are available then restrictions can be justified.

    I find the whole idea of exclusion on safety grounds against the whole ethos of climbing, mountaineering and even hillwalking which have generally left groups and individuals to assess the risk for themselves. What comes next? Handrails, signposts everywhere, notices, reflective tape,...

    In the Mont Blanc case it'd be very easy to reduce the number of climbers without needing any for of complicated permit system. Close the Gouter Refuge and fence in the Aiguille du Midi cable car station. Those who really want to climb the thing will do so from lower down and the hoards will go elsewhere.

    I'd also doubt the argument that the region relies that heavily on the 20,000 sumitters a year. Chamonix alone is clocking up over 5,000,000 bed nights per year.


  3. #3
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    Limiting access to pubs and bars would save a lot more people; 8790 deaths linked to drinking in 2009/10 in the UK according to the BBC, nearly 1 in 25 of all deaths worldwide according the the WHO. But then where would journalists hang out?

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    Ultra King Paddy Dillon's Avatar
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    During Queen Victoria's reign, when Alpine expeditions were first kicking off, and 'Boy's Own' types of fellas were getting themselves killed in droves, Parliament debated banning the whole thing. Didn't catch on then, and probably won't catch on now either.

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    You climb a mountain, you take a risk. I had plenty of nasty days at high alt but you just get on with it and try to do it safe so some other poor guy doesn't have to risk himself rescuing you.

    This isn't a reason to ban or restrictit, it just means the risks need to be made clearer. What I would like to see is information boards at the start of some of the mountain trails to scare off novices. I did Carrauntoohil as the first 1000m peak where I led a group and the plaques in the carpark in the farmyard really hit home how dangerous these places can be. Having said that the recent deaths in France were just very unlucky.

    Fear should be used to full effect.

  6. #6
    ‹bermensch Salmon Shirted Panther's Avatar
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    Yes, warning plaques should do it; let's terrify those novices with some really hard hitting and scary information; ingenious. You're not so daft after all Lexie!

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    ‹bermensch Salmon Shirted Panther's Avatar
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    Forget my irony above; I've just read the warnings and it has certainly put me off!

  8. #8
    Initiate Nick P 10's Avatar
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    I think limiting access is a terrible idea. Nature is for everyone to enjoy. The only scenario where it would be feasible to limit access would be in national parks. People have to be able to make their own decisions and if they want to climb a mountain then let them. All you can do is try to make sure people have the necessary equiment.

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    Ultra King Paddy Dillon's Avatar
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    Only yesterday I was reading something about the travel writer Dervla Murphy... now in her 80th year... and still willing to take risks in places that most people wouldn't even dream of visiting. One of her comments...

    "Nothing dared, nothing gained It's one of my life philosophies. That's why I get so irritated by the health and safety regulations you see now. I don't know how people live with it. And who are these maniacs imposing them on us? What sort of lives do they lead?"

  10. #10
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    This debate is as old as climbing,was there not talks of banning ascents of the Eigerwand in the 30s after several fatal accidents?

    "Outraged of cheltenham" will always want to ban things they cant do or understand and if a minority sport so much the better,,

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