Thursday 25 June 2015

The Spirit of the Fells - a solution to mountain safety

The new Wainwright
Written after a rather silly BBC news story on mountain safety

The sad truth is that journalists are unable to write about mountain rescue without causing harsh, mocking laughter from the misty heights. The rule seems to be that you write best about what you know, a lazy lie spread to discourage critical thinking or the acquisition of new knowledge by those new to the trade.

With reporting increasingly based in the capitals, a few hacks have any understanding about life at the other end of the country and those that do fall into the hubristic superiority of the metropolitan line.

With churnalism becoming the foundation of reporting in a digital age, hacks have to turn out quick stories at an increasing rate and the days when an inquiring mind was a basic requirement are long gone.

Not that the readers are any better, wanting a quick tale reduced ad idiotum, closing the circle of ignorance.

Increasingly stories are basically troll bait, where the end result is to ‘engage the reader’ or make them respond instantly, thoughtlessly to the online story, spreading a link, making a comment and boosting the advertising revenue.

And so, the BBC published a story after a fatality on Striding Edge, a sharp ridge ascending Helvellyn, a beautiful place but one where a little caution is needed.

The story was headlined ‘Helvellyn deaths spark safety calls’. I’m not going into the concept of wildness, personal responsibility and the acceptance and avoidance of risk.

I’m going to talk about the call - singular - by one person, who had lost a friend on the mountain to an accident, quoted in the article. Linda Howard-Bates was quoted as saying “It’s beautiful, it’s enticing, but nature can be vicious and cruel, and you just have to put that in the foreground.”

She added, “It should be possible to enforce some sort of guide system.”

This lady could have provided a much better service, to her friend and others. Digging around, one learns that Ms H-B is a self-proclaimed ‘Clairvoyant and Medium’.

As the mountain rescue teams have pointed out that the idea of a guide is impractical, let us consider that they and the BBC completely failed to understand our astral ascender’s idea.
She’s clearly talking about spirit guides. This is a more practical proposition. Spiritualists and clairvoyants could easily be placed strategically in Lakeland, where they could examine each passing rambler for any likelihood of stepping off the fells and onto the astral plane on their ramble.

The Ramblers Association and the British Mountaineering Council should introduce a compulsory course on clairvoyance, but would this be enough? I would suggest not. There are obvious advantages of training guides, walking clubs, climbers and more on Astral projection, considered the most reliable way of encountering your own spirit guide.

This sort of activity would also grant the fell walker with a detailed look at the topography of the day, a Google Maps for the soul.

Indeed, it could encourage a spirit-led fell walk, which would enable walkers and their ethereal companions to glide over the fells, leaving behind no litter, no erosion and no footprints. They’d probably stay dry, although poltergeists could be a problem, many are likely to emanate from university climbing clubs, one suspects.

It also follows that mountain rescuers could pack away their boots and enjoy their evenings in bed, rather than staggering up the fells carrying heavy stretchers.

The only problem is the RAF, whose blisteringly quick training flights through the Lakes could cause some turbulence for our astral ramblers, but hey, nothing’s entirely without risk.

It should be noted that Aleister Crowley was a keen mountaineer, perhaps he can be enrolled to provide a little discipline for our astral adventurers.

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