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Warning over taking highest peaks for granted

Posted 31 July 2012
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Warning over taking highest peaks for granted
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Anyone climbing England's highest mountains would be very wise to be well-equipped for doing so. Good walking boots, Ordnance Survey maps, a compass for navigation and waterproofs for wet weather are essential.

The last of these ought to be the most obvious item this summer, but should be taken at any time - even if simply stored in backpacks - because mountain weather can change rapidly, not least when the sea is not far away. Moreover, Scafell Pike and Scafell overlook Seathwaite in Borrowdale, the wettest inhabited place in England and also the starting point for the Corridor Route.

Despite all the good reasons to act with common sense, the reminders have to keep on coming and many walkers learn the hard way what is required, only living to tell the tale and go shopping for the gear they are lacking because of the work of mountain rescuers.

Wasdale Mountain Rescue Team (WMRT) has carried out two nine-hour operations this week to help people lost on Scafell Pike, cases that epitomised the problems people could face when they get lost, not least the inability to give an accurate position to rescuers.

The latest incident saw the Wasdale, Duddon and Furness and Keswick teams all scrambled - as was an RAF helicopter - when two people reported themselves lost as the daylight started to fade. The MRT account stated: "The two walkers were very cold and wet and were unable to give the team much information to narrow down the search area."

Having been located near Ill Crag, they were given warm clothes before being helped off the fells.

The lessons were clear enough, as they had been earlier in the week when another group were lost in similar circumstances. An MRT spokesman commented: "Both of these rescues were avoidable with proper preparation and planning and taking maps, compass, torches and knowing how to use them."

In the previous incident, two of the seven-person party became separated from the rest by miles and were located at a bridge in upper Eskdale near Brotherilkeld Farm, while the remaining five were found at the Foxes Tarn Gully below the summit of Scafell.