Author Topic: Tryfan inquest  (Read 2487 times)

howardfernlover

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Tryfan inquest
« on: 15:19:31, 19/10/07 »
An item on tv text, in Wales regional news, caught my eye today. I hope the BBC won't mind me quoting it here in full:

     "The publisher of a book criticised at the inquest of a walker who fell in Snowdonia is reviewing its content.
      An accidental death verdict was recorded on Christopher Parratt, 32, of Oxford, who died after he and his wife became confused in cloud on Tryfan.
      A member of a mountain rescue team told the hearing the book was "misleading".
      Gwasg Carreg Gwalch said later that Walks in the Snowdonia Mountains had warnings about Tryfan's dangers, but confirmed it was reassessing the book."

I don't have a copy of the book, so I can't judge it, and I'd be interested in hearing the views of anyone who does have it. 

There is no doubt in my mind that books can be a bit sketchy on detail, making routes sound much easier than they in fact are.  I recall following the wall northwards along the Rhinogs ridge till I unexpectedly came to the edge of the cliffs on the north of Y Llethr; nothing I had read had warned me to turn away from the wall, to take a steep route down the west side, before I reached the danger point.  No book I have gives an indication of how extremely steep, and pathless, the start of the descent off the north side of Moel Lefn, in the Hebog hills, is.

On the other hand, the Snowdonia peaks are exceedingly complex places, and it would be impossible to describe and include every detail, and some writers who attempt this only succeed in making routes sound more difficult than they actually are.

Overall, it is difficult to judge beforehand whether the mention of a scramble means a precarious climb up slippery rocks overhanging a thousand foot drop, or a simple path up a rocky ramp where the use of hands might be necessary in a couple of places.   


Mr. Blister

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Re: Tryfan inquest
« Reply #1 on: 16:34:51, 19/10/07 »
Some interesting points you've raised here ..

I guess a book like this (what did you say it was "Walks in the Snowdonia Mountains"?) has responsibilities to the market that it's aiming at, and has to be as honest and as truthful as it can, while still making it seem attractive.

I guess the problem with this type of books, guide books essentially, is that their primary motive is to raise profit and I guess some of the hazards *could* be glossed over.  I don't know if that has happened in this case, it could just as easily be a case of bad writing and editorship.

Have you any idea who published the book or who the editor was? Gwasg Carreg Gwalch?

howardfernlover

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Re: Tryfan inquest
« Reply #2 on: 17:05:50, 19/10/07 »
The publishers are called Gwasg Carreg Gwalch and they are based in Llanrwst.   (I don't know what it means even though I was born in North Wales.  Any speakers of Welsh out there?)  I've got four, I think, books published by them and I rate them pretty highly.

It'll be interesting to know what they say in their Tryfan route, and what people who know the mountain think of that.  Was it really as "misleading" as a mountain rescue team member said at the inquest, or was this twisted out of him by some clever legal expert? 

I will certainly be interested to see how it compares with similar routes given in my collection of books.

Mr. Blister

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Re: Tryfan inquest
« Reply #3 on: 17:44:16, 19/10/07 »
Do we know if this chap had the book with him and was relying on it, or had he just consulted it before the climb.  I'd be interested in finding out.

You say you rate the four you have pretty highly, have you ever known them fall short of the mark or find the route not as desribed, misleading as it were?  I think what you said earlier is true, that it is a difficult task to accurately describe the terrain to the point where a climber can embark on the route and not have to make any further study, it'd be folly to do that anyway.

I think it's a warning to us all not to rely too greatly on guide books.  I for one, if going 'off the beaten track', would use all available resources to me to find out just what I'm to expect.  I'd also be interested to know if this publisher has received any other complaints about its information.

nedsram

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Re: Gwasg Carreg Gwalch
« Reply #4 on: 21:03:30, 19/10/07 »
"Hawk stone press."

Thanks to www.geiriadur.net for the translation.  ;)

As for the topic under discussion, far too often we see people attempting walks with nothing to aid them but something like "Snowdonia walks for families". Often we know this because they haven't a clue where they are, and have asked us for assistance.

When we do serious walks, we always take an Explorer map, a compass and - vital in unfamiliar territory or poor visibility - a GPS unit. And we will think three times before going anywhere mountainous when high level visibility could be poor. It's just too dangerous.

And what on earth were they doing at the top of a Welsh mountain with a dog?

Deerplay

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Re: Tryfan inquest
« Reply #5 on: 23:09:14, 19/10/07 »
I think the last poster has it right. You shouldn't rely on just a book especially on a peak like Trfyan. It's notorious for being mainly a climbers peak and for its potential to fall a long way. Having a guide book is no substitute for being able to use a map and compass and whatever else is available if you need it.
When I used to climb on Tryfan regularly (in the 80s) more often than not the Mountain Rescue seemed to base themselves somewhere below the east face on popular weekends and ask returning climbers whether they had sen anything untoward. I think this says a lot about the mountain and its hazards.
The only thing we have to fear is fear itself

howardfernlover

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Re: Tryfan inquest
« Reply #6 on: 23:53:27, 19/10/07 »
The other books I have from this publisher are not walks guide books, they are: Jones,D, The botanists and guides of Snowdonia; Jones,R, The complete guide to Snowdon, and Roberts,G, The lakes of Eryri.

I have several guide books for Snowdonia walks, of varying dates and publishers, too many to list here, and I would stick my neck out and say every one of them falls short of the mark in one way or another, I have often found the route not as described, and misleading (like the Rhinogs ridge I described earlier, for example).

Finally, let us not be too hasty to criticise of the poor young man who met an untimely end in the mountains, and his widow.  We've all seen people setting out in sandals or heels, but we don't know enough about this incident, and for all we know he may have been experienced and properly equipped.

Mr. Blister

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Re: Tryfan inquest
« Reply #7 on: 14:30:04, 21/10/07 »
Thought you might be interested in having a read of this, it's from Ogwen Valley Mountain Rescue Organisation, who came to the couple's assistance:

"18:11
Team received a call from the wife of a man who had sustained a fall somewhere on the East Face. The cloud base was just at the lip of Cwm Tryfan but 22 Sqdn. did a fantastic job ferrying troops as high as they could. Due to the mist it was initially difficult to locate the casualty as the wife was unfamiliar with the terain. Once located the wife was walked down and their dog captured, abseiled off and evacuated. A long (in time) lower followed to recover the male to Cwm Tryfan and on to the hospital. It is suspected the man died of head injuries sustained during a short 20-30 foot fall."

Here's the link for anyone interested in knowing more. 

http://www.ogwen-rescue.org.uk/incidents/2007.php

Make you think, I hadn't realised so many people get into trouble.  ???


howardfernlover

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Re: Tryfan inquest
« Reply #8 on: 17:52:53, 21/10/07 »
That log is amazing to read.  Although they keep it fairly objective, and do not comment much on causes, it is fairly obvious that some of the people that have to be rescued are stretching themselves beyond their capabilities. 

(A slighly off-subject comment:  on my last few trips in Snowdonia, I've seen what appears to be a mountain rescue helicopter doing a circuit of the main ridges and summits early each evening, maybe to check for people needing help?.   Has anyone else noticed this?)

Mr. Blister

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Re: Tryfan inquest
« Reply #9 on: 18:55:36, 21/10/07 »
That log is amazing to read.  Although they keep it fairly objective, and do not comment much on causes, it is fairly obvious that some of the people that have to be rescued are stretching themselves beyond their capabilities. 

I thought you might find it interesting, the incidents just seem to keep on coming, as you say, people out of their depth.

Snowman

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Re: Tryfan inquest
« Reply #10 on: 19:14:39, 23/10/07 »
Quote
(A slighly off-subject comment:  on my last few trips in Snowdonia, I've seen what appears to be a mountain rescue helicopter doing a circuit of the main ridges and summits early each evening, maybe to check for people needing help?.   Has anyone else noticed this?)

I think I may have seen something similar.

I was approaching Moelwyn Mawr from the south, which starts off with a bit of a scramble.   A helicopter had been in evidence but when I got to the end of the scramble where it levels out (a bit) I noticed that the chopper was at a point where it could observe us.    I was a bit of a way ahead and carried on, but noticed that it was hovering near the start of the scramble, where my walking companion was.   I went back and found out that he was having a little difficulty with the scramble, so I told him to go back down and follow the path around the base of the mountain to the north, where I intended to descend.    Following that, he went down and the helicopter left us.

Don't know if it was coincidence or if they were keeping an eye on us.   I didn't see anyone else on or near the mountains so I can only assume the latter.

S.

howardfernlover

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Re: Tryfan inquest
« Reply #11 on: 20:02:24, 23/10/07 »
During the day they are sometimes out practicing.  Once I watched them repeatedly hovering just above a big flat rock close to the summit of Glyder Fach.  They kept going off, circling round, and doing it again.  Another time, I watched a chopper that was practicing hovering as close as it could get to the precipice on the west side of Ffynnon Llugwy reservoir in the Carneddau.

It would be nice to think your walking companion had his own little guardian angel, wouldn't it?  I saw something along those lines when a member of a group doing their Duke of Edinburgh's award needed airlifting out.  After the lad had been dealt with, the helicopter returned and, from the air, it followed the rest of the group as they made their way down from Bwlch Cwm-trwsgl to the A4085 road.  (Full account in my 2005 trip report on my website.)

irongrip

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Re: Tryfan inquest
« Reply #12 on: 22:00:14, 23/10/07 »
I'm all new to this; but I have set about this venture with the same interest as all my strength sports before. Even before I set foot on my first mountain I read/and asked my climbing friends what I needed, and then where my first walk/climbs should be. This was invaluable advice. My friend who runs Stafford Outdoor shop sorted me some super boots from his half price sale, map, compass, etc.

Anyway, I suppose what I'm saying is that in a short period of time I know what my capabilities are, and what my progression should be. This is no different to what I have told people who have come into my gyms for some 20 years, to start slowly, and build up.

Now I don't know about this particular case, but maybe some people do bite of more than they can chew, and this may be down to them not being told that the climb is too dangerous for their experience.

So maybe there could/should be a few beginner books fior people new to the Snowdon region.

David
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Snowman

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Re: Tryfan inquest
« Reply #13 on: 11:03:36, 24/10/07 »
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Now I don't know about this particular case, but maybe some people do bite of more than they can chew, and this may be down to them not being told that the climb is too dangerous for their experience.

The problem is Irongrip that there is currently nothing to stop idiots doing what they want.   I know that in the USA many of the national parks require people to 'check in' before setting out, and the park rangers check equipment, maps, knowledge etc.    I'm not sure we want or need such nannying, but the consequence of not having such checks is that people get killed (as this example).

I know that a lot of guide books include such advice as 'good navigation skills essential', well perhaps they need to offer a little more advice as to skills?   

Having said that, I once took a couple of novices up the Glyders and back down The Devil's Kitchen, and specifically avoided Tryfan (and Bristly Ridge).   Even what they did was probably over extending them, but they were doing one of these sponsored walks to Machu Picchu and were to say the least inexperienced, so I thought they needed a bit of a shock.

I think we've all seen ill equiped walkers, and I'm not sure what we can do about it.    I personally think that blaming a guide book is totally over the top, and akin to blaming a road map for a car accident.    It doesn't take an expert to look at Tryfan and know it's not an after dinner stroll - or perhaps it does?

S

howardfernlover

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Re: Tryfan inquest
« Reply #14 on: 11:40:19, 24/10/07 »
There are such books for beginners, Ironman, there are some in the Book List on my website, though these are almost certainly out of print now.  Those by Kevin Walker are particularly good.  Similar books are available today, I've seen them on my occasional visits to Stanfords in Long Acre in London, though I can't quote you any titles.

I've seen your photos of your trip up the Carneddau, and I would comment that you were lucky to have such fine weather conditions.  Now imagine if it was splattering with rain, with the wind tugging at your clothes, and thick mist that prevented you from seeing ahead to work out your route, seeing the signs of which way others have trod, and seeing what dangers were close by.  Then an element of risk comes into it.

Snowman has hit the nail on the head, in his summing up about blaming a book, though I'm disappointed that so far not one person has enlightened me as to what the book in question says about the route up Tryfan.