Mountain Ridges


Mountain Ridges


Mountain ridges pose a number of dangers for the hill walker


Mountain Ridges 

Mountain Ridges



Mountain ridges are great fun when the weather's right, but no place to be when there is a strong wind. You could literally get blown off. It happens.

The danger is not just from the wind. Mountain ridges by their very nature are high and exposed, with steep precipitous drops on both sides. A fall from a ridge would certainly result in serious injury, and probably death, which would be a serious dampener to the planned Sunday stroll with friends. Ridge routes sometimes demand a small amount of scrambling, which for now we'll define as being the requirement to use your hands on fairly steep rock.

As part of your planning, check that everyone in the group knows that the route will go over a ridge, and confirm with them that they understand what they're letting themselves in for. In particular, they need to know that once on the ridge there is generally no escape route, so there is 100% commitment to the ridge once started. (Which reminds me, I need to chase a friend for a story - when he foolishly took some inexperienced people on to the Aonach Eagach ridge.)


Videos

Here's a video of the narrow ridge of Crib Goch in North Wales, in the wind. In some places the wind drops and calm returns for a moment, but moving a few metres can mean getting buffeted and taking a defensive stance to prevent being blown over, with the margin of error being small. Falling off that ridge would likely be fatal. Judge for yourself whether it's a safe place to be in the circumstances.





Mountain Ridges in Winter

Clearly any attempt on a narrow mountain ridge in winter should only be contemplated if you have the appropriate equipment and sufficient experience, or are with someone with such experience to assist you. 

Take a look at this video of Striding Edge in the Lake District for the combination of wind and winter conditions. (The music does go off...)




Planning

As part of your route planning you should hopefully be aware that your intended route goes over a ridge. Checking the weather should be something that should always be done as part of your planning, but be especially careful to take account of the wind speed and direction (blowing across the ridge would be more dangerous), remembering that the wind is much stronger at high level when compared to ground level.


Specific Ridges

In the Lake District, Striding & Swirral Edges of Helvellyn and Sharp Edge of Blencathra are extremely popular routes. All are exposed and there are fatalities on each in most years.


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