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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 about how stupid you were, but to learn from your mistakes so you don't repeat them.

In this page we've included tales of rescues and near misses, so you can learn from others' mistakes and hopefully avoid making them yourself.

If you have any cautionary tales of your own, where you have learned valuable lessons, you can send them to neil@mountaineering.scot for consideration. It may be summer or winter, climbing or walking. We'll use the best on this page (although, to save anyone's blushes, we won't use names).

Now read on...

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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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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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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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. Photo by Alan Rowan.