Friday, February 20, 2009

Mountain Rescuers Getting Taken to Court?

A post on the National Geographic Adventure blog says prosecutors in Argentina are investigating an attempted rescue on Aconcagua for possible negligence. And this isn't even in the USA, where you expect everything to be taken to court.

Apparently a video from the rescue has caused huge controversy because the rescuers were "just standing around".

I don't know any more details, but on the surface I'm flabbergasted. What do people expect the rescuers to be doing? If the guy can't even get up, how do you get him down? The rescuers were probably pushed to the limit just to reach the guy. People who have no experience of high altitude or even mountaineering should not be judging.

I've often talked to non-climbers who read about climbing incidents, especially on Everest, and ask my opinion. How could they have left someone to die? How could they have just walked by? They don't realize that you barely have energy to move yourself, let alone enough energy to help someone else. And if you did help someone, you're placing yourself in serious jeopardy and may just end up with two casualties. And lastly, the person in trouble chose to be there, chose to take the risks. And often what got them into trouble was ignoring advice and common sense. If I say "don't walk on the ice, it's too thin" and you ignore me and walk on the ice and fall in, am I still obligated to jump in and try and rescue you?

These were volunteer rescuers. If they end up being prosecuted or sued, then who is going to volunteer to try to rescue anyone?

1 comment:

  1. I think it's very unfortunate that motivational speakers and others have popularized mountain climbing to such an extent that the public believes that "anyone" can climb McKinley or Everest or Kilimanjaro. And that's just not the case. Altitude changes all the rules - even physically-fit people can become deathly ill. The mountains are dangerous and should be respected - don't go unless you are an experienced climber and know what you're getting into. And be prepared to take care of yourself - don't rely on a tour guide or sherpa or other climbers.