Sunday, December 9

Dorset climber rescue - a waste of space

One worrying individual has caught local media attention for all the wrong reasons.

Late November (Tues 20th to be precise) a certain individual (lets call him 'Mr Whadafooch' to protect his identity) had to be rescued from a cliff close to Langton Matravers, here in Dorset.

The location "the bottom of Guillemot Climb near Dancing Ledge" - now try to remember that name - there may be a test later.

If memory serves it was a cold and wet day and Mr W "misjudged his timing and got stuck at the bottom of a cliff with ankle and head injuries as darkness approached" I recall hearing a local radio news report at the time and wondering about the lack of preparation in the conditions.

To quote the official incident report "The weather at the time was cyclonic force 5 or 6 becoming southwesterly and with squally showers" Mr W was "without a helmet or waterproof clothing"

Enter Portland Coastguard's helicopter which flew Mr W "who was suffering from exposure" to a local hospital.

The Coastguard's comment at the time: "A valuable lesson from this incident has been the clear need for any climber to take the appropriate equipment"

An quite right. Sound advice. The local cliffs aren't exceptionally high, but once the tide is in escape options become very limited, and windward ledges can get exceptionally exposed.

Roll forward to early December (Tues the 4th) - another coastguard call out in the same area. As the local newspaper The Daily Echo reports:
"TWO climbers who got into trouble during a stormy night ascent of Swanage sea cliffs have been brandished "disgraceful" by coastguards. One of the pair, a relatively experienced climber in his early twenties, was forced to call for rescue on Tuesday for the SECOND time in a fortnight. This time the man's climbing partner, also in his early 20s, was stuck 60ft down the bottom of Guillemot Ledge (recognise that name readers?), but two weeks ago the coastguard's rescue helicopter was scrambled after another of his companions became trapped on the same ledge"

I bet the coastguard were most impressed when they turned up to that particular incident.

The article mentions the coastguard comment "These guys were given a really good talking to. They are putting other people's lives at risk. They really should know better than to climb in these sorts of conditions"

There's plenty more of the same "....After getting into trouble once you would think this more experienced climber would have learned something, but clearly not. To attempt a second climb at night in these sorts of conditions is asking for trouble.." and " these conditions in the middle of the night, it really borders on stupidity. They must have been on the cliff face for some time. I think they are lucky to be alive"

I somehow think that the coastguard's message might have been put across to Mr W a little more forcibly during this second incident.

Hopefully there will be no third time lucky.

I'll let you think up your own suitable comments here (although there's some ideas for you to start with here)
More from the Swanage Coastguard incident log as well including the famous line "some rather strong words of advice were given to him"

Oh I bet they were.

There is being unlucky. And then there's making your own luck.

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