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Lessons learned in the mountains

Go to the hills long enough and, with luck, you'll build up your own store of mishaps and near misses - they're called experience, and the trick is to learn from them.

Any sort of close shave should be a learning opportunity for you, with a clear look back on what happened allowing you to pick out the things you did wrong, or could have done better, the things you should have done but didn't and the things you did which you shouldn't have. The idea isn't to beat yourself up, but to learn from your mistakes so you don't repeat them. 

There are three possible ways to share your near misses and incidents with the wider community. You might choose to do one quick form, or share it in all three ways its up to you. Below is an explanation of what they are and why they are a bit different. 

The quick way

Short on time? Fill out a quick form and your information goes into the UK and Ireland database so that we can all learn from each other. You can also see stories from specific nations. 

You can see all the reports here

Submit a report

Story to share? 

The most interesting learning comes in the form of epic stories, like the ones below. 

If you have any cautionary tales of your own, during which you learned valuable lessons, send them to the team for consideration.

Get in touch

Required a rescue?

If you've ever had to use the services of a mountain rescue team, please consider filling in the Mountain Incident Survey. 

This is all about collecting the stories and learning from the perspective of those that needed help. 

Mountain Incident Survey

Below we've included tales of rescues and near misses, so you can learn from others' mistakes and hopefully avoid making them yourself. It may be summer or winter, climbing, walking, trail running or snowsports touring. We'll use the best on this page (although, to save anyone's blushes, we won't use names!)

Helen Todd on learning never to underestimate grassy slopes and that ice axes can be very useful on steep, wet ground...as long as you're still holding onto one!  

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Carn Mor Dearg Arete under winter conditions

A solo traverse of the four Glen Strathfarrar Munros left this hillwalker reflecting on the risks of poor avalanche decision making. 

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Carn Mor Dearg Arete under winter conditions

A pair of hillwalkers have a close encounter with Mother Nature during a thunder and lightning storm in Torridon. 

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Carn Mor Dearg Arete under winter conditions

Even with Spring-like conditions on the ground, a hillwalker discovers the need to #ThinkWINTER in Scotland's mountains 

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Carn Mor Dearg Arete under winter conditions

A walker discovers the importance of route planning and risk assessment in the Angus Glens. 

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Carn Mor Dearg Arete under winter conditions

A freak accident highlights the need for a well-stocked first aid kit when you venture out into the mountains.

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Carn Mor Dearg Arete under winter conditions

Day three of a successful walk - just nipping over Cairn Gorm to grab a bite at the cafe. What could possibly go wrong?

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Carn Mor Dearg Arete under winter conditions

A straightforward ascent of one of the relatively benign Glenshee hills... until a short-cut beckoned on the way back down

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Carn Mor Dearg Arete under winter conditions

A group of walkers discover that climbing hills under winter conditions is harder and takes so much longer - especially when the aim is to do Ben Nevis via Carn Mor Dearg and the arete.

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Carn Mor Dearg Arete under winter conditions

Heather Morning tells a tale of a simple glen walk out to a bothy for an overnight stay. What could possibly go wrong?

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Facing an uncrossable river in flood

The uncrossable river. Time for a change of plan

It was only for a short stretch of the descent, and all had gone well on the way up, so surely it would be okay without stopping to put the spikes on...

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ice-axe braking on a snow slope

It was a late start in November, and there was snow on the tops - but it would be fine, he said, would only take four hours and we could walk off in the dark...

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Traversing the Aonach Eagach


It was a lovely day but still almost ended badly, with a chain of events that started the day before - or even earlier.

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On the Braeriach plateau

I checked the forecast, I had all the gear and I took the bearing - so why was I now heading directly for a cornice over a massive drop?

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Summit of Ben Macdui in white-out conditions

Benighted on Beinn Sgulaird, the descent becomes too dangerous as the ground steepens. And the wind and rain don't make life any easier...

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Helicopter rescue

Photo by Heather Morning.

In winter darkness falls early, but uncertainty about the position meant a descent route was a problem. It was time to call 999.

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Stob Coire Easain in winter. Photo by Alan Rowan

Stob Coire Easain. Photo by Alan Rowan.