Time to stop Ben Nevis Charity Challenges
It's time to stop large scale charity challenges on Ben Nevis before we ruin this precious resource.
reports on the damage caused by Ben Nevis Charity Challenges:
Among the environmental problems reported have been hillsides and verges scarred by hikers, streams polluted with human waste and residents’ sleep disturbed by vehicles at night.
Charity Challenges are not only damaging a fragile mountain environment but these large scale events cause disruption and nuisance to other responsible users of Ben Nevis and other popular mountain environments.
As a mountain leader I have climbed Ben Nevis over 100 times, mostly with small groups of between 1 and 15 people and I am constantly amazed by the total disregard that charity walkers show for the mountain environment. Because most people taking part in the Three Peaks challenge are under time constraints they have an incentive to take shortcuts, barge past other walkers and generally be a nuisance - causing far more damage than their numbers indicate.
Three peaks groups on charity events are generally not accompanied by a qualified guide, have precious little previous experience of mountain environments and are clearly not briefed on mountain etiquette or environmental best practice.
Merseyventure, based in Liverpool, say they limit groups to 200. This is laughable and shows their ignorance as to sound environmental practice. A group of 200 people is a vast swathe of people on the trail and has a profoundly negative impact on other trail users. It is also impossible to control, brief and monitor a group of this size once they are on the mountain, so there will always be individuals who cause environmental damage. That said, it is a improvement on other organisers who send literally thousands onto the mountain at one time.
5 Ways to Improve the Management of Ben Nevis Charity Challenges:
- All organisers should be registered and hold a valid permit to organise an event. (They are running commercial events and therefore access is subject to the permission of the land manager. )
- The Nevis Partnership/Land Managers should monitor, educate and enforce minimum standards by having visible staff/volunteers on the mountain.
- All organisers should pay a per person charge for access to the mountain, which goes back into conservation. I suggest £10.
- All organisers should adhere to an enforceable Code of Practice, which stipulates minimum safety standards, leader ratios, start times and environmental standards.
- The maximum group size for any challenge event should be limited to 50.
It's time to get tough on the unchecked exploitation of Ben Nevis and as a commercial operator on Ben Nevis we would be more than happy to support all of the above initiatives.