Tragedy on Red Screes (G/LD-017)

It makes depressing reading. I assume this was not SOTA related but it was right of the MT to clarify about activating during lock-down.

John G4YSS

The two who needed rescuing were far from home and received a (paltry, in the circumstances) fine of £200 each from the Police

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Patterdale mountain rescuer seriously injured in 500ft fall - BBC News A little more detail. But like you say Barry it isn’t much of a fine in my opinion.

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Unfortunately the police can only fine them for being in breach of covid restrictions [£200 for a first offence].

Apparently, a statement was released later saying that the man they called the mountain rescue for had had several heart attacks in recent years. If true, he was reckless [even in non-pandemic times] to go mountain climbing in below-zero conditions.


Here’s a further link. Hope it works.

Yes £200 each. One from Liverpool; one from Leicester. I won’t condemn their actions in general, but certainly their actions in the covid situation. I hope we can get back to the hills soon(ish). Who knows when?

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Reckless? I don’t know.

Back in the early 70’s when I joined my climbing club after my earlier partners dispersed there was a member who was a keen climber and caver. He was outwardly fit and healthy, but we all knew that he had a heart condition that could be fatal. He was not going to let this stop him from doing the things that he loved, and we all accepted that the day might come when we had to bring his body down, his defiance of mortality was even admired. Ironically he died in a caving accident. So yes, I can understand somebody putting his love of the mountains above the fragility of his body.


I hope the guy with the dodgy ticker who substantively broke the lockdown to indulge his passion is now unable ever to get a decent night’s sleep again as he considers the consequences of his selfish indulgences on the life of someone else.


The injury to the mountain rescue volunteer appears to be unrelated to the lockdown breach of the original casualty (unless the wearing of some form of PPE is implicated)

Yes, it is an utterly tragic event for the rescuer and his relatives, but I feel it is unjust to heap blame on the casualty.

The whole event is a tragic occurrence that would have played out the same whether we are in lockdown or not.


This reminds me of a similar incident around this time last year before Lockdown started when from what I can remind a group of teenagers/young adults decided to ascend Ben Nevis GM/WS-001 in the dark and in heavy snow wearing trainers and had no head torches or any proper walking gear. Unfortunately, Mountain Rescue had to be called out to move them idiots off the mountain.

Jimmy M0HGY

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This person has a very recent history of several heart attacks. He might have got chest pains just watching TV on the sofa but it was much more likely to have been brought on by strong physical exertion in sub-zero temperatures. Many people don’t realise the extra stress such temperatures put on the heart and lungs.

Since having a mild heart attack myself [after cycling to work in -5C], despite making a full recovery, I was advised by medical experts not to push myself too far in very low temperatures. He would have known this and was reckless to do something so ambitious with his medical history.

The mountain rescue teams tend to avoid blaming anyone who needs their help – after all, even the best of us could have a disabling accident on the hills. But a spokeperson said this event was “avoidable”. A person’s ‘love of the mountains’ should be tempered by the risk they might placed on others.


One should also consider the SAR team who may need to rescue you. If you have a history of SEVERAL heart attacks, perhaps you should not hike in places that would require SAR, particularly in Sub-Zero conditions.


Exactly my point but better stated.

Ignoring for the moment that he and his friend should have stayed local like the rest of us, in non-pandemic times, anyone with that recent medical history probably should be walking less-demanding summits and not at all in sub-zero temperatures.

To emphasize my point, I quote this from the US CDC:-

The combination of cold temperatures and strenuous exercise can trigger a heart attack. Every year, about 805,000 Americans have a heart attack. More specifically, Robert H. Shmerling, MD writes on the Harvard Health Publishing website that “about 100 people—mostly men —die during or just after shoveling snow each year in the US. People who have a medical condition like high blood pressure or a medical history of heart disease are at increased risk for a heart attack when performing strenuous exercise.

And many more of those 805,000 heart attacks will be cold weather related.

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The MR voulunteer would have been sitting at home enjoying family life if these idiots had not breached lockdown and called out Patterdale MRT


The individual’s medical history is a red herring here. His assessment of what type of physical activity in what conditions he can do is his and his alone - nobody else’s business whatsoever.

The point is that he breached lockdown rules, and for that he is rightly criticised.

The circumstances that resulted are tragic, and wouldn’t have happened had he complied with what we are all being asked to do.


It is until he involves others.

But he will have been advised against strenuous activity in cold weather and for him to do so against medical advice AND THEN call for help is the height of selfishness and entitlement.

Mathew is somewhat correct that lockdown is a red herring. It’s possible the MR could have had exactly the same accident if there was no lockdown but just on any winter rescue. The lockdown effect here is had the person with a history of heart complaints obeyed lockdown then there would have been no call out.


Maybe not legally in a ‘free’ country but morally it is selfish and reckless to consider nobody else. As well as the voluntary SAR teams already mentioned, most of us have family and dependents, and to say it’s not their business too is a very alpha-male attitude.

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So you are suggesting that he was wrong to call for help? :wink:

For my part I would like to know more about the accident. The media describe a fall of 150m, but if there was anywhere on Red Screes where a free fall of 150m was possible I am sure that it would figure in the climbing guides. My impression of the crags there is that they are scrappy, discontinuous and vegetated. I think it is more likely that the guy lost his footing and was unable to ice axe brake a slide of 150m. The lesson to take from this is that even skilled and experienced people have to guard their margin of safety in winter conditions.

What a tragedy. Did the rescue occur at night? The photos make it appear that way. Is this a particularly treacherous area? That was quite a fall and perhaps the route requires exposed edges. The article says the rescue is done with PPE and that makes the SAR activity more difficult. Is that more than wearing a mask? There are some questions in my mind about whether SAR engaged at the right time but there is so little information and it is really just a curiosity and thought-provoking exercise for me. I do consider before some of the difficult hikes/climbs that there may very well be no emergency support or I will be staying the night out there if something goes bad.

…you assume. If that’s the case, I agree. But the only person who knows his personal business is him, and it’s his decision. Whether he made a reckless decision, a selfish decision, an uninformed decision or an unlucky decision, we can only speculate. I hear what you’re saying, but I prefer to stick to the facts that we do definitely know. He did break lockdown rules, and a consequence of that was this awful incident. There is no doubt that he should very much regret that.

If I had an alpha-male attitude, I would eagerly accept that as a compliment and mark of respect!

Whereas I saw it as an insult and skirting the boundaries set by the AUP.

I had never heard of this idea that strenuous activity in cold weather can cause heart attacks. I would guess that it is better known of in countries where cold weather is encountered more frequently than it is here, where I can’t remember the last time I had to shovel snow!

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