Tragedy on Red Screes (G/LD-017)

Don’t worry Brian. I don’t have an alpha-male attitude, and therefore I did indeed perceive the remark as the insult intended. I’m not in the slightest bit insulted though, so no need for the moderator to don his special hat.

For most of the 1980s I lived with my young family in New Hampshire and Massachusetts where they got serious amounts of snow [and still do]. Coming from England [where deep snow is infrequent due to our Western Maritime climate] I was amazed how every man and his dog in town it seemed had a gas [petrol]-driven snow blower and / or a snow plow [plough] attachment for their pickup trucks, where as I had a snow shovel. Streets and driveways would be cleared quickly leaving giant piles of snow in odd places which often took to Spring to melt.

I was in my thirties then and found shoveling the driveway a very tiring and back-breaking job especially if it was wet snow rather than the powdery kind. I would look across enviously at neighbours clearing theirs in a fraction of the time with little effort. Fortunately, one would often feel sorry for me and come over with his snow blower and clear my driveway too.

I am not sure we should judge, newspapers and the media at the moment do not have a particularly good reputation for accuracy. I would agree that on the basis of lockdown he should not have been where he was but beyond that it is hard to make fully understand the incident.
Mountaineering is an unusual sport, break your leg playing football, sprain a finger playing cricket and you are a hero, twist your ankle on a mountain and you are a bloody fool.
I had a quick look at the Langdale callout log for 2020 Incident Reports 2020 | Langdale/Ambleside Mountain Rescue Team and what struck me was that most of the callouts were accidents rather than what appeared to be an accident waiting to happen.
There are risks climbing mountains, and bigger risks when the winter bonus is available. If we ignore the Covid factor in my view it should be down to the individual to make the decision if the risk is one they want to take. If we allow ourselves to be too judgemental it is lilely that others may judge our rather eccentric behaviour as dangerous and something requiring regulation. (No over 50’s in the snow? and as for putting a mast with wire on the top of a hill, that is almost as bad as flying a kite in a thunderstorm…)
I do feel extremly sorry for the injured team member. As an ex. SRT member I know the our team always worked hard to minimise risks, but they were still present, and most team members ( in non Covid circumstances ) volunteer because they want to help people in the mountains rather than scare them away.
I doubt we will ever know the full details.
Me - I’m hoping that sometime this Spring (Summer, Autumn, end of lockown…2023?) to climb up Red Screes - and if I see a collection tin for the Patterdale Team I’ll be putting something in.

73 Paul


Don’t worry, I had let it pass, it was marginal. As they say, an insult is like strong drink, it only affects you if you accept it!

Come visit - very unusual to have this much snow 60m above sea level and less than 1 km from the coast.

165m ASL

We’ve had 15cms since 1800Z yesterday.

24cms since Monday

The road was clear yesterday so this is all in the last 18hrs.


eee, Andy. That wooden ruler took me back (about 40 years)!


It belonged to one of my kids from their more recent schooldays.


Hi Andy,

nice wether. It would be fine if we had got the snow you have got.
Here in Jena up to 40 cm in the night from sunday to monday. (Jena - the warmest city in the former GDR).

Where is the street? Traffic calming!

Here also

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If they ascended from Kirkstone Pass, the quickest and most obvious route to the top of Red Screes then there are a couple of places where mis-footing would have serious consequences. These guys are also carrying some serious weight generally, so balance is compromised. For the most part it is a stone staircase for 45 minutes, I wouldn’t want to tackle it where there was any possibility of ice forming on the rocks. That is a tricky combination for footwear to cope with. I’ve seen all manner of folk in all kinds of clothing (including a family of bikers where the dad was carrying a kid and the mother carrying all the leathers and helmets!) ascend Red Screes. Often they only get so far, but I am really surprised there aren’t more accidents on that particular ascent.

I think the word ‘avoidable’ really does some up this tragedy. I was really hoping that this situation would not come to pass, but the risk of it happening has always been very real, and ‘avoidable’, with lockdown restrictions.

One particular local family recently summited Helvellyn at a weekend whilst in lockdown. I class that as ‘reckless’ behaviour, but tried to educate about the consequences. Often, folk are so wrapped up in their own worlds they really aren’t thinking clearly about the unlikely outcomes. We have the benefit of an excellent support community here to temper any reckless thoughts. Others don’t have that.

Mark. M0NOM


“Reckless” behaviour is not that simple to define. Summiting Helvelyn in winter in a T shirt and jeans with hush puppies on your feet is certainly reckless, but is it reckless if you are properly equipped and are one of the people capable of a solo winter ascent of Zero Gully on the Ben? I don’t think so, you probably disagree.

I’ve never had the pleasure of tackling the ascent of Red Screes from the pass in winter conditions, from its summer aspect I would think that it would be rather fun under snow and ice but very trying under verglas without crampons. I don’t know where the campers were, but I would guess that you are right and the fall was in that area as it is the quickest ascent route to the summit area. Anyone activating in winter would probably choose that route - or would have done so before hearing about the accident.


It was bitterly cold on Rennfeld (OE/ST-205) today:

Luckily, my usual spot was free and out of the wind it was quite pleasant:

However, more on topic is that it was quite painful to breathe through my nose today and I had to breathe into my hood instead, which froze up pretty quickly. These very low temperatures are another risk that, even here in Austria, we are not so used to. There’s a big difference between a walk when it’s -3°C and one when it’s -15°.
73 de OE6FEG


It got to -13C Wednesday evening/ Thursday morning. Coldest since 1995 in parts of Scotland with Braemar getting to -23.2C.

Brian, [not for the first time] you make a strawman argument. I don’t think Mark was talking about experienced solo winter walkers or climbers but about families or bikers who fancy a winter walk but are neither experienced nor appropriately dressed / shod. What’s not reckless for the former may well be for the latter.

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You could probably divide the mountain rescue callout list where it is sorted by frequency of issue, and call the top half reckless.

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Firstly, this is a tragedy and my heart goes out to the injured rescuer.

There are two things at play here. My personal view is they shouldn’t be conflated.

Breaking lockdown rules. Fine and send home.

Callout to winter camping group. Not that unusual. Outside of COVID restrictions, MR teams are dealing with increasing numbers of calls from an ageing population. This is good news and bad news.

The good news is that older people are now not feeling constrained to hang up their boots.

The bad news is it’s simply a fact of life that we get less agile and have more illness as we age. This translates into more calls for simple slips trips and calls for medical emergencies.

In MR we recognise the risks of setting out on a rescue and have systems and training in place to minimise them.

But, you can’t eliminate them.

Unfortunately in this instance a rescuer was seriously injured. A terrible tragedy and my thoughts are with him and his family, friends and teammates. I hope for the best recovery possible.

But mixing the COVID issue with this accident is tricky.

The only connection is that the people rescued shouldn’t have been there on that day.

Hopefully in a few months we can get out into the hills legitimately again. This same scenario could then play out. Would the majority of the “blame” fall onto the rescued person as is is happening now?

In 2016 a Duke of Edinburgh Award student required rescue on Kinder Scout. One of the rescuers who set off to help them sadly died of a suspected heart attack while ascending to the casualty site. This was also tragic, but it’s not the casualties fault and wasn’t seen that way at the time.

I am not condoning the breaking of COVID rules. Far from it. But this type of rescuer accident could happen any time.

The added risk for rescuers has been the danger from COVID transmission, initially to team members, but then also to family and beyond. That’s the one I’ve been concerned about and working hard to mitigate. This is the prime reason to stay off the high tops and try to avoid calling MR right now. Another consideration is the need to avoid additional requirements for NHS resources.

The other dangers are there at all times. Falls, illness and the danger of working with helicopters are risks associated with many rescues.

I’m a serving MR team member, but this comment is in a private capacity and may or may not align with my teams stance.


Well written Gerald.

I would suggest that there is also a 3rd aspect which is people’s desire to share their personal opinions, whether considered/informed or not.

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It wasn’t a straw man argument because Mark didn’t mention the level of experience of the family that he referred to. Being local to Helvellyn it is not unreasonable to consider that they were probably experienced. Beyond that, basically you just repeated my point!

There was a follow up article on BBC Breakfast time this morning include some interviews with Patterdale MR members. I only caught the tail end as I had just emerged from the shower and was drying my golden tanned and ripped physique. Probably available on iPlayer for a day or so.

Fake tan and mirrors or hallucinogenics?

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