Mam Tor Trig Point-Gate - What Really Happened
If you saw the story and video - above - about the walker who spent an hour clinging to a trig point on top of Mam Tor in the Peak District because of high winds before calling mountain rescue and being helped to safety by a pair of passing walkers, you may have formed your own views on the incident and not necessarily charitable ones.
But what really happened? The walker and amateur photographer involved, Darren Ciolli-Leach contacted us to explain how the incident actually happened. 'Contrary to most peoples opinion,' he says. 'I am a very experienced walker, spending most of my time in the outdoors both here and overseas'.
In a blog post about Trig Point-Gate - as we've now dubbed it - Darren describes how after leaving the car park at Mam Nick in apparently benign conditions 'the wind suddenly came out of nowhere, almost as if someone had positioned a jet engine 10 yards away from me and put it on full thrust'.
He was blown clean off his feet and made the decision to shelter at the trig point until the wind had died down. To his surprise the wind speeds increased and was supplemented by driven hail that felt 'like bullets'.
An attempt to leave the shelter of the pillar saw him blown off his feet again and losing his glasses in the process. Meanwhile the windchill was taking its toll and he realised that he was in the early stages of hypothermia, which was the point at which he chose to call mountain rescue.
A Lucky Break
Fortuitously however, he was seen by two passing walkers, themselves 'walking at an impossible angle of 45 degrees against the wind and fighting to stay upright' who helped him down to the road where he contacted Edale MRT to let them know he was okay.
The team, as detailed on their Facebook Page, took him back to their base in Hope, dried him out and re-warmed him with no judgemental remarks, just an observation that the incident was 'A valuable reminder surrounding the unpredictable weather in the Peak District hills'.
The Full Story
You can read Darren's full account 'An unexpected turn of events' at his blog: darrenciollileach.com/unexpected-turn-events/.
I suspect that reading it with a certain amount of empathy might just change the minds of a few of those who criticised him openly on Facebook. I guess many of us hope that in a similar situation, we'd perhaps cope differently, but until you find yourself in the same scenario, it's impossible to know for sure.
Having spent a day with Edale MRT in the past, one thing I do know is that they'd always rather be called out in scenarios where strictly speaking they weren't needed, than not be notified and have to deal with fatal accident as a result.
' I still believe I did the right thing (for me at least)'
And as Darren himself told us: . 'I've always been taught 'safety first', I had made a couple of attempts to get down low and try and make it back to the path where the elevation drops quite quickly to try and get out of the wind but I got flattened and blown towards the back edge both times.
'My thoughts were that this wind strength couldn't last forever and I would take what shelter I could until there was a lull. Sadly the lull didn't come and with the windchill and the soaking from the hail my core temperature started to drop quickly, I decided to sit tight. Under the circumstances I still believe I did the right thing (for me at least).'
A Little More Slack
It's easy to criticise and the knee-jerk immediacy of the internet has made it easier still, but sometimes perhaps, we need to cut each other a little more slack.