About the author

Laura Moss

Laura Moss spent 16 months cycling 13,000 miles around the world. She is a director of The Adventure Syndicate and organises the annualCycle Touring Festival. Her husband, Tim, runs this website. Read more...


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    It sort of sounds like everyone was reasonably prepared, if they got back in one piece, city clothes and takeout notwithstanding. Why are you judging people by what they take on what’s obviously just an afternoon stroll for them?

    Reminds me of a winter afternoon we spent looking for a Christmas tree at a tree farm. Everyone wandered in, wearing weekender clothes, carrying lattes, waiting in line to get their tree sled and llittle hacksaw, when this dude walks in–dressed for -20C weather, obviously prepared to blog about his big adventure hacking down a mighty pine–and says, “I don’t need a saw, I’ve brought my axe!” and he shows off his gleaming, big, brand new axe. Everyone just looks at him, and the tree farm owner is like, “Buddy, they’re just Christmas trees–we’re not doing any logging here. These trees are way too small for axes.”

    Is it possible that you’re that guy?

    For the record, I’d take one 500mL water bottle per person, a Thermos of hot chocolate, apples, pears, crackers, cheese, one bag of nuts, and one emergency energy bar per person, for an afternoon hike in woods or hills.

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    …and of course, the water bottle would be reusable, and I’d pack my garbage out with me. (That’s my pet peeve: litter.)

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    Tim Moss

    Thanks for the message Yuki. It wasn’t meant to be taken too seriously. I can’t take credit for your Christmas tree encounter I’m afraid!

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    Hi Yuki

    As Tim says, it was a joke more than anything, sorry if it wasn’t clear. I agree that being over-prepared can be laughable – all the gear and no idea – but there are certain minimum standards I would expect when heading into the hills, especially in winter. The Cairngorm plateau in winter can be a hostile place (people die there most years) and proper clothing, footwear and navigation aids, in my opinion, are essential. There is a big difference between buying a Christmas tree and wandering around a mountain in deep snow during a white out. I also think, but would need to confirm, that a general duty of care applies in the mountains, meaning that you are obliged to go to the aid of your fellow mountaineers where necessary and possible. Lacking the necessary kit therefore risks not just your own life, but the lives of others out on the hill. I should add that I am in no way an expert and perhaps others would disagree with me.

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    I climbed Ben Nevis last May. It was a miserable day, cold and raining. Anything not waterproof got drenched. The top was covered in snow, to the extent that I was wearing a pair of leggings under my walking trousers, which were under my waterproof trousers, and 5 layers on my upper body, as well as a hat and gloves.

    I passed numerous people dressed in jeans and/or trainers. Most of them had turned back. I even saw one guy in shorts, though to give him his due, he made it to the top. One friend I climbed with hadn’t brought waterproof trousers and was really suffering with the cold and the wet.

    That same day, someone died of hypothermia on the mountain – though Mountain Rescue said he had been reasonably well equipped. Even in Britain, you have to take mountains seriously.


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