Abandoned Hunting Lodge

The week has been a black hole. More of a grey hole maybe. I juggle poorly and the glorious weather window of the past few days slipped out of an already full hand and hit the floor tiles from where it’s not coming back. Them’s the breaks, I’m an engineer and that’s what I was doing instead, I like that, feels like I’m being useful as much as anything. Still, the ootsides-overnight bag is packed and by the door.

I loved Doctor Who tonight. I think it’s already been guessed-at on here somewhere that River Song is the child of Pond, but it was still pretty cool when it all came out. Matt Smith is a brilliant Doctor, he’s carrying a slightly scrappily scripted series all on his own.

I’m always trying integrate skulls into my stuff, and that rather innocuous one above became the two below via the wonders of Photoshop. I put this down to Joycee watching the final of Britain’s Got Talent while I was messing with the mouse, I think my inner angst was being expressed safely rather than launching household objects and various handy action figures at the telly.

I was also rather annoyed earlier by a news item on Grough that MWIS linked to on their front page. “Rescued mountain pair in trainers were totally ill prepared” went the tabloid-style headline.
The premise is that an unprepared and inexperienced couple got rattled on tricky ground on Tryfan, got stuck and needed help to get down. They were dressed in “town clothes”, so that must be a suit and a black dress, and of course trainers. There were no injuries, just folk out of their depth.
Lower in the same report we have an “experienced and well organised” walker who took a fall and also got the MRT out, luckily again happily resolved. No mention was made of him wearing trainers so I’m sure he was kitted out exactly as convention would approve, so why don’t we have “Rescued mountain man in boots wasn’t as prepared as he thought” as a matching tabloid-style headline.
I’m making no judgment or comment on either incident, I’ve been in situations frighteningly similar to both, just been lucky enough not to need MRT. It’s worth reading the piece as the content is better balanced, that trainer headline niggled me though. How many folk will read the headline and  have their fears and preconceptions about trainers in the mountains confirmed. One step forwards and two steps back.

Must make more skulls now. What a grumpy bastard.

Ach, it’ll look less gothic on here again when I get back from Wester Ross.

48 thoughts on “Abandoned Hunting Lodge”

  1. Used to have a t-shirt with that Dali skull on it!

    If they’d said “shoes with no grip” I would just have assumed they were in Salomons :o)
    In saying that, XA’s are my current first choice again, so what the hell do I know!

    After having to repeatedly explain lightweight footwear to trade folk at innov-ex once again I think I’m hyper sensitive to stuff like this and it just winds me up.

  2. Grrrrrrr indeed!!! Something aout the tone of those quotes from the team really sucks.

    “However, they ended up on the top of cliffs above the Milestone Buttress. Despite the glorious weather conditions, they were reluctant to climb back up to a place where they could descend safely. So they made a 999 call for mountain rescue.
    …(this sort of rescue)… occurs too frequently and is an unnecessary waste to team members’ time and resources.”


    “(He) fell about 6m (20ft) while coming down a steep and loose path on the mountain.
    He banged his head and lost his spectacles. Fortunately, he found his spectacles but felt a bit unsure on his feet, probably due to the ‘cartoon-style’ lump throbbing on his head.
    He wisely made the 999 call for mountain rescue.
    This was an unfortunate incident at the end of a really good day.”

    I realise Oggy MR are trying to put out some kind of public education message through these reports, but this is far from the first time that (imo) they come across as far too judgemental. And it just doesn’t fit their narrative to acknowledge that the one who ended up falling and hurt was the ‘well-equipped guy in boots’.

    Shit happens. Kit is part of the equation. Skill and experience is another part. If they came across Leo Holding soloing in jeans and ‘trainers’ would they badge him ‘irresponsible’, I wonder…?

  3. Ill equipped. They had a phone didn’t they, thats all you need now isn’t it. For me to not wear trainers outdoors now is like not wearing my slippers indoors, ain’t happening. So if they had been wearing boots would they still not have got a bit out of their depth. Strange thing is a lot of the MRT guys probably do a lot of mountain running to keep fit. I wonder what they wear on their feet.

  4. I’ll be an idiot in boots tomorrow. Heading to the lakes for a bit of easy climbing in probably rain. I will be wearing a three piece suit though and I’ll try and fall off just to see what the papers say.

    Pete, I’m normally a very peaceful person who abhors violence in all it’s forms, but just 5 seconds of Britain’s Got Talent instantly turns me into a bell tower sniper.

    I think you did very well to stop at just skulls.

    Enjoy Wester Ross

  5. Am no goin to comment on the boots V trainers arguments. There aint enough space on here. All I’ll say is that yer trainers are going to get mighty wet in all that snow you’re goin to be trudging through. (based on MWIS of course)

    So show us the pics of the trainers in the snow & mind and let us know how the midges are doin plus where you parked for the trip
    Mind & enjoy yersel !!

  6. I’m kinda glad I wan’t alone in the wee bit of dismay I felt.

    The boots versus trainers thing is endless and pointless, but also a great source of fun.
    Way back on the original Trail forums I used to post stuff about what I did and cause all sorts of trouble. The shot below is us on the summit of Nevis with three of us in trainers. I kinda kicked off talking about that trip.
    Folk forget it’s all about possibility, responsibility and choice.
    And fun of course :o)


  7. Mnd you, having just checked the forecast again in case they’d changed their minds I might not bother my arse for a day ot two. I’ve got two jobs to do up there, both of which require me to point a camera at something other than cloud.
    Oh, I wish you could mail order weather.

  8. It isn’t a boots vs trainers thing per se – they both have their place. To me the unease is about using some facet like that to make a judgement about the ‘worthiness’ or otherwise of one call-out against another – or, perhaps it’s fairer to say, making comments to the press that give the appearance of doing so.

  9. Absolutely.

    As morbid as it may seem, on occasion I’ve wondered what would be said about me if I got rescued. Would they focus on the gear, the mistake, or try and link the two with an assumption of consequence?

    Has gear become an imaginary bullet proof shield in lieue of experience? What’s more dangerous, a well kitted outed person to whom everything they find on the mountain is a first or someone with 30 years of experince in plimsoles and an evening dress. Is there a winner, is it a draw?
    The footwear debate is a part of something much bigger, and lightweight is in there too along with GPS and more.

    Reporting doesn’t like grey areas, it likes blocks of definition which really only mathematics can provide. Opinion isn’t an answer, it’s just a point of reference, but a headline gives the impression of a definition.
    Hmm, I think I’ve explained to myself why I was annoyed in the firts place :o)

    Boy it’s late.

  10. Boots vs trainers… yada yada yada…. Irritating. Agree.

    …more importantly, Petesy man, what’s with the unannounced Doctor Who River Song spoiler! I haven’t got to that episode yet!!!

  11. Yeah, we’re only at the Almost People, so might become more obvious soon…?

    … but on the other I am somewhat distracted by important questions like:
    … Could Pond’s skirts be any shorter?
    … Just how foxy is River Pond anyway?

  12. I might not bother my arse for a day or two………judging from the MWIS forecast for the next few days that looks like a good call. Ah well back to another bottle of the red biddy & a dance around the hall in my plimmies.

  13. On matters more outdoors and lightweight related, I took my 10 year old son for his first proper wild-camp and backpack at the weekend – from Glen Fruin through to Luss. (Nice local area and oft over-looked.)

    I was keeping it lightweight – classic Laser tent, OMM sac, wee gas stove, lightweight down bags….
    …however I think I need to further educate the wee man on the lightweight philosphy: he insisted on bringing his pyjamas and his teddy…

    It’s all about priorities.

  14. Aye, I’m still at base. I’ve also looked out a slightly warmer sleeping bag.
    Lightweight? It’s all about making room for the fun stuff, be it teddy or a box of donuts :o)

  15. “Has gear become an imaginary bullet proof shield in lieue of experience?” I think it really has for a some people. I’ve now met a few different parties hunched over a GPS on beautiful clear days who’ve asked for my advice regarding where they were. I honestly think it’s a real worry. Shops are hardly going to push the sales of map and compass when they can sell a GPS for several hundred pounds more.

    I’ve used a GPS once, but it was only to put my mind at ease that my compass was in fact telling the truth.

    A friend of mine’s luxury item was a pair of drumsticks and a practise pad. I really wished it was a teddy – I would have carried it for him.

  16. I got a Dean Baby V for taking to camp, the fact that it’s still full scale didn’t occur to me, but hey it looks nice in the living room too.

    I’ve had my first GPS on a long-term test for the past year or more and it’s brought as many problems as it’s solved. It’s saved me from real trouble twice, once to get a bearing when I was daydreaming in fog, once when I left my map in an Inverness Premier Inn, and even then it was a trial navigating the Strathfarrar Munros in cloud with it.
    The rest of the time it’s either ballast or a bit of fun.

  17. Yeah I’ve no intention on buying one. The GPS I used was on my phone (the all singing and dancing kind) and it just confirmed what I already knew on a stressful descent in a proper white out.

    Been trying to solve the travel guitar problem for years. I should probably just learn to play the moothie.

  18. I tried a moothie, I ended up just talking through it pretending to be a cyberman.

    I got an altimeter watch years back and that’s been quite useful, if I remember to calibrate it. Feels less intrusive as well, a height in metres, the time of day and the temperature in the tent as as much information as I can process anyway.

  19. I live in fear of having to call out MRT, mainly because I’d never live it down as an active N Wales team member myself (the shame!!). The Grough article is an interesting one although I suspect some important details of the ‘trainers’ incident are missing. Oggy get a disproportionate number of callouts that shouldn’t really be necessary – people who call out the service when they could often sort themselves out relatively simply, but who also wrongly believe MRT to be a paid service rather than the groups of incredibly hard working and selfless volunteers who choose to walk away from their own activities, their own families and friends, in order to go to the aid of others. It gets frustrating when you receive a call that is blatently just a product of laziness (not that I’m saying that’s what this one was, just that it does happen more often than you might think, and the judgement can never be made to ‘not go’ – they have to be dealt with and responded to.)

    All that said, I don’t think the trainers thing is actually an issue in simplistic reality – I rock climb in approach shoes at times, I fell run in a pair of Inov8s, and I walk in trainers at times. Hell, on certain days I’d even consider wearing flip flops (shock, horror!), I do however have enough skill and experience to make the judgement on what is appropriate for me and when. The bulk of ‘under-equipped’ and ‘ill-prepared’ type callouts are, in the vast majority of cases a reflection on the attitude of the people involved and far less a reflection of the actual kit in use.

    It’s all complicated stuff eh? I wouldn’t worry too much about what an MRT would be saying behind your back if you needed them – we very rarely have the time or the inclination to pass judgement (unless of course you’ve done something REALLY out of the ordinary).

    At the end of the day, we’re volunteers and spend our time in the hills because it’s where we feel at home. Mountain Rescue is for most of us as much of a hobby as the climbing/running/walking is itself – we ENJOY helping people and wouldn’t be out there if we didn’t (even if sometimes it really is a massive pain in the backside).

  20. Great comment.

    The experience thing is important, any bit of kit without the knowledge to use it is potential disaster. The lightweight footwear issue has had the outdoor establishment with its fingers in its ears, rather than accept is as a regular option for folk in the hills you get the blanket “No” which is why we get the headline in the Grough piece. It’s just unthinking line-towing.
    What we need is education and informed opinion borne from experience, not “I don’t like it, I don’t think it’s right so it must be bad” which is what I still get all the time from folk in the trade and the media. Does my head in.

    MRT? Bless you all.

  21. “Unthinking line-towing”, great phrase, and sums it up completely! You get a lot of it inside teams, and all kinds of outdoorsy type groups – people stuck in their ways like the engineers who have ‘done it that way for 20 years’ and so think there is no need to embrace any kind of change.

    We need more dissemination of knowledge, more people willing to try new things in order to find out when they work and when they don’t – if no-one ever changed anything we’d all end up standing still, and what good is that to the hill walker eh?

    Keep up the good work mate – I enjoy reading your ramblings (feel free to check out my randomness if you find yourself with a spare minute or two, there may even be the odd bit of outdoor writing on there http://groovynut.blogspot.com/)

  22. Just to agree with the last few posts. I’ve had countless arguments with people telling me I’m irresponsible for climbing as they think it’s the tax payers money that’ll pay for my rescue. It drives me nuts. It’s always mountaineers that get it in the ear, and nobody makes a hue and cry about the various other leisure activities that occasionally lead to accidents or fatalities (sailing or even equestrianism as examples).

    Part of the problem is that for most people, doing what we do seems odd at best because they’ve never tried and don’t understand it – a lot like wearing trainers in the hills!

    Never used the MRT, but there’s been a couple of epics when I maybe should have, but didn’t want the shame! In the meantime I’ll keep donating to a service I hope I never use.

    Good to read your comments and I’ll check out your blog.

  23. The number of people who thing MR is a paid service is quite amazing – often a part of the reason they don’t mind calling teams out when most of us would just sort ourselves out (disclaimer: this is a very broad generalization and purely my own view).
    Another thing people don’t realise is that MRT also operates in conventional Search and Rescue role – we spend many many many hours searching for people missing from home, it’s not just climbers/mountaineers/walkers/bikers. The frustrations are many, and public understanding is sadly widely lacking!

    More people should get out and enjoy the outdoors, more people should open their minds to the different options for kit and techniques, and everyone should learn to be as self-sufficient as possible out there – the rescuers are there for when the poo really hits the fan, but I’m a huge fan of prevention over cure – more knowledge of navigation, general hill skills, and more first aid knowledge in the outdoors is never going to be a bad thing! Of course, anyone who actually reads this is likely to already be hugely capable on the hill :-)

  24. It is that big step from knowing nothing to being able to look after yourself in the hills that’s the problem. Outdoor shops, magazines, adverts, they all sex up the outdoors and probably make getting kit and skills look specialist, possibly elitist and at the least difficult to get started in. I wonder if some folk then just, “We’ll be fine” rather than head down to Millets or buy a mountain craft book to get started.
    I was lucky with both my dad and the cub scouts setting off in the right direction.

    Checking that blog right now!

  25. There’s a lot to be said for just getting out and doing though, making the mistakes and learning from them – it’s more of an attitude problem I suspect – the ‘we’ll be fine’ attitude being exactly the issue. Assumed invincibility is a real danger in the hills, and this is an all too prevalent problem amongst ‘experienced’ hill-goers too. Someone getting out with minimal hill skills but a degree of common sense and healthy respect for danger is unlikely to get into too much trouble.

    I think the majority of people starting out often have a reasonable attitude to it, many do make the effort to do the research and the reading, or getting out with people they know who already spend time in the hills. Knowing how to look after yourself out there is something we are all constantly learning, and whilst you can accelerate this with books and courses etc, at the end of the day it’s all about the doing, and I’m all for this! Beginners going out and getting into a bit of hot water over navigation or being caught out by the weather are not the problem, despite perhaps being perceived to be. I’m far more cynical about the ‘experienced’ hill users who get out weekend in, weekend out and assume that because they’ve been doing it for years that their navigation must be fine, despite not actually being able to use a map and compass effectively…

    There is also a line to be drawn between people ‘starting out’ in the hills, and those who aren’t actually interested in the outdoors, but who just head out to ‘do’ Ben Nevis or Snowdon or the Three Peaks etc as something to brag about to their mates – these are a whole different breed of hill-goer that don’t conform to any of the norms or implications that the rest of those out in the hills do (and as such could well be considered the grey area to which the Grough article is alluding).

  26. Complacency by the experienced happens a lot. The cure is to have been in a spot of bother once or twice. A lot of folk are “experienced” at problem free, good days and have no point of reference for when it goes wrong. After 25 years at this I still practise. Navigation, ropework etc. I’m just too cowardly not to! Another thing is that some people have travelled a great distance to get a climb in, and just aren’t prepared to blow it out if the conditions are wrong. When that happens me and my mate always pretend to be The Kurgan and shout “another time highlander” at the hill and then go home. Actually some of my best days have been “failures”.

    Checked out your blog. So let’s see, you like climbing, drinking tea and making cakes, listening to Rammstein and reading Sherlock Holmes…

    Oh God, I think I feel a netcrush coming on!

  27. I’m doing something in this area for Trail in the next few weeks, taking a friend up a hill for the first time and talking about where to go and what to do, especially from my point of view.
    I want to positive and informative all at the same time, hopefully interesting too and still hit the wordcount :o)

    There really is a lot of metal folk in the hills isn’t there? That and a love of tea and cakes is what it’s all about.

    I’m now singing “There can be only one! Huuuuurrrrgh!!!” Then Brian May does a bagpipe thing on the guitar.

  28. Guys stop it, I’m tired after an epic callout to a fallen climber (helicopter etc – always entertaining), and I don’t want to be off listening to the loud heavy stuff (that was on in the car on the way back!), it is time for chilling!

    Pete, I’ll be interested to see what you make of the subject – it can all get a bit bogged down and opinionated – we’re all meant to be having fun after all! MRTs are constantly battling these issues, so if you can manage to write something entertaining that gets some of these points across that will be ace! Gonna take my MR hat (and jacket, and boots) off now and break out the Speyside…

    Oh, and Gypsymac – not into aeroplanes then? The one in my banner is what I’m currently flying, usually upside down ;-)

  29. I’m now singing “There can be only one! Huuuuurrrrgh!!!” Then Brian May does a bagpipe thing on the guitar………but as “they” say…….I’ve got something to say…….it’s better to burn out than to fade away…….ahem that aside.

    I’ve done the summer & winter ML & nearly joined the local MRT. Bone idleness got in the way. So I think of myself as reasonably experienced but always learning.

    The trouble is, as I see it, that the outdoor mags etc preach the gospel and unfortunately there’s a lot of sheep out there that take it as Gods word. Unfortunately it aint. The great outdoors can bite & bite hard. So while a small part of this debate is the lightweight issue I don’t think that we should lose sight of the fact that we have a responsibility to teach and to lead. That’s not always by example. E.g. I might wear “trainers” but you have to point out the pitfalls if you twist/break an ankle or a rock chips your ankle bone.

    Perhaps something like John Allen’s Cairngorm John should be on the must read list before venturing outdoors. It is fun out there & I hope that it will always be so…..Now fades away :o)

  30. Years ago I did Ben Starav and the other two (can’t remember the names) in running shoes. Descending the second one I went over on my ankle and tore a ligament. had to do the last one with an elephants leg and practically crawed out back to the car. BUT, I’d wear them again on the right day/hill. Fact is I was unlucky. It happens and no amount of experience or gear can change that.

    Now where did I put that invisible invincibility sheild?

  31. “…a head which at this time has no name”
    “I know his name!!”

    I saw scones there, I want a scone. I’ve went off jam on my scones and have taken to buttering both halves and eating them separately. Will this last? Who’s to say.

    Knowledge and information is always where it’s at, I’ve happily pushed the limits of gear in the past to find where my boundaries well, fell shoes with crampons etc, and the truth is anything is possible and what’s enjoyable or acceptable is vastly different for everyone.

    Imagine that concept being taught at Glenmore?

  32. gypsymac, years back I took a slide on the same round taking a short cut from Ghlas Beinn Mhor, sliced the skin off my calf from knee to boot cuff.
    I remember the sting and the tears quite vividly.

    Easy done these things.

  33. Imagine that concept being taught at Glenmore………eh that would have to be a big fat NO !!

    I saw scones there, I want a scone. I’ve went off jam on my scones and have taken to buttering both halves and eating them separately. Will this last? Who’s to say……Long ago when the world was young some friends reckoned that wot we could do so could they. They were runners rather than mountaineers. So they’d do the KIMM. We advised but they wouldn’t listen. They did listen to the wives though. Half way through the first day & their map had blown away & their rations as supplied by said wives (Scones!!) had dissolved in the torrential rain. So I’d eat them quickly and most definitely with strawberry jam.

    That’s it. Dogs walked. Aff for a home baked cheese scone.

  34. I’ve pulled a handful of papier mache out of a pocket that was once a map, but never scone mix :o)

    Hmm, and so to Greggs…

  35. Ach yer always one step ahead!

    Hate to spoil your nice scone blog with gear talk but now that I’ve decided on an Epiphone Laser it’s a sleeping bag next. I’ve got an older NF Blue Kazoo which is big and heavy. Had fancied the PD400 but it’s an awfy long wait and I wondered if any of you boffins know of a similar spec bag at around the same money?

    Cheers all.

  36. Scones fresh out of the oven with jam and proper clotted cream. THAT gentlemen, is where it’s at. You mark my words, if more people were to embrace the way of the Cream Tea we’d have far less accidents on the hill.

    For more interest on the MRT aspect – I wrote a slightly drunken blog entry on life in MRT and SaR work, that overnight has become a bit of a legendary item and has now done the rounds several times and is still going – please have a read (there is more to MRT than the hill work!) http://groovynut.blogspot.com/2011/06/what-its-all-about.html

    (sorry to hijack your blog Pete – I’ll make you some scones if you ever venture down this way!)

  37. Gypsymac, Alpkit kinda stand alone when it comes to price. The PHD twice yearly sales have always got proper bargains, and the UK brands are worth looking at too, the Rab Neutrino bags are brilliant.
    The shops are down 30% in people through the door, as worryng as that is, there’s deals to be had, sign up for Tiso/ Cotswold etc mailshots.

    Groovy-Nut, heading over shortly.

    This talk of sweet is no good, I need savoury firts, to the shop for a roll on bacon!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.