THE 12th death on Scotland’s mountains so far this year has once again turned the focus on what can be done to reduce the growing rate of fatalities.
The tragedies have triggered fresh concerns about safety on Scottish hills and whether climbers should tackle peaks when the risks are at their highest.
Worringly, the victims this year have been experienced mountaineers who were properly equipped for the rigours of a Highland winter.
It has been pointed out that seven of the fatalities came in a single avalanche, but it has not stopped the questions about why so many lives have been lost in such a short space of time and what, if anyything, can be done to reduce the death toll.
It has prompted calls in some quarters for climbers to be banned from the hills, or for walkers or mountaineers to be forced to take out insurance to pay for potential rescues.
There have also been suggestions that access to Scotland’s mountains should be restricted - but there is a school of thought which believes that educating the public could provide an answer.
Mountain Rescue Committee of Scotland chairman Jonathan Hart said recently that the more aware people are of the dangers, the less chance there is of an accident.
There is set to be a multi-agency review in the coming months of how we look at further educating people about the dangers that lurk among Scotland’s mountain ranges.
The Mountaineering Council for Scotland point out that this year’s victims have been experienced climbers proves that there are risks for all who take to the hills.
They are rightly urging hillwalkers to seek out and understand weather and avalanche information from expert sources, such as the mountain weather information service and sportscotland avalanche information service.
Experts have also played down the suggestion of insurance being introduced for climbers - saying it simply wouldn’t work.
Whatever the solution, if one is ever to be found, the debate over mountain safety in Scotland is certain to continue.
IN other news this week, alarming figures indicate that one person a week in Scotland was barred from keeping animals due to cruelty last year.
The Scottish SPCA reported a dramatic rise in the volume of calls to its helpline and the number of cruelty cases involving violence, abandonment and neglect was at a “shameful” level.
As a dog owner it is hard to conceive how anyone could harm a defenceless animal but there are cruel and heartless people out there who inflict untold misery on their pets. Lets hope they continue to be exposed.
Good news if you’re a film buff in Ellon. The town now has a cinema club following on from two successful screenings in the local Victoria Hall earlier this year.
At this stage they are small in number and are really keen to expand. So, with another Cinema Day organised for this Sunday, what better time to volunteer your services and help bring the silver screen back to Ellon on a regular basis.