Mountain rescue is a sport, says Bonington
FOR some, amateur climbers are the source of incomparable frustration, wasting emergency services’ time by attempting to conquer mountains unprepared.
But the amateur who finds himself in need of rescue on British peaks should not feel too guilty, Sir Chris Bonington has suggested, because volunteers enjoy the thrill.
Sir Chris, the British mountaineer who became the oldest man to climb Everest in 1985, said mountain rescue has become almost a sport in its own right, with volunteers vying to be the most spectacular saviours.
Saying he was not worried about unprepared climbers needing to be rescued, he argued that, on the contrary, people should be encouraged to get out of doors and into the wild.
Asked at Cheltenham Literature Festival about unprepared climbers and an alleged over-reliance on technology to get them rescued, he said: “As far as this business of people relying on being rescued … in actual fact, there’s quite an industry for rescuing people. In Britain, what is amazing is the mountain rescue teams are totally voluntary. They’re volunteers and they love doing it.
“Mountain rescue has almost become a sport in itself. I believe there has even been cases where there’s been a mountain rescue team from one valley and a team from another valley racing to get the person first. They’ve never quite got to fisticuffs but it’s got quite heated.”
Andy Simpson, from Mountain Rescue England and Wales, thanked Sir Chris for his compliments about volunteers, but he added: “I would certainly never encourage anyone to deliberately put themselves at risk, or to go out illequipped believing it doesn’t matter because they’ll be rescued.
“We are always keen to help, but it’s a serious business and we would always encourage people to be properly prepared.”