Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Summit Hogs & Hiking Etiquette

A Moan ....

For anyone who has spent any time hiking with the intention of reaching a hill or mountain summit, the following scenario will no doubt be familiar. Having laboured uphill, sometimes for many hours, you approach the top with a sense of anticipation, eagerly awaiting that magical moment when the forward view suddenly opens out to reveal a breathtaking panorama of distant peaks & plunging valleys. Your camera is at the ready and the weather is perfect. You finally get your first glimpse of the top and …..... suddenly you are confronted by a group of people sat smugly on the summit. They glance over at you with a ‘yep, we were here first’ expression and continue eating their lunch. Having clearly established their ‘squatters rights’, you now have the problem of trying to get to the highest point without disturbing their picnic. All chances of an unimpeded photo have evaporated and that much anticipated image of the summit cairn in the foreground of a pristine backdrop now contains a barrage of brightly dressed folk and their kit. Overall it’s a most unsatisfactory conclusion to long day’s hike
   
Sitting pretty on the summit of Steeple : Photo from www.summiteer.co.uk

For many people, the objective of a walk in the fells is to attain the highest point, to take the obligatory summit photo and then head back with a sense of rightful achievement. It’s a simple pleasure but the highlight of the walk is the summit and a few hours of hard labour are often spent in pursuit of those precious few moments at the top. How irritating therefore to find yourself facing the previous scenario. Sometimes its lone walkers or couples but the most common offenders are the large groups who occupy summits while eating their lunch and with their gear strewn all over the place as if staging some sort of dirty protest. This is just thoughtless and inconsiderate behaviour. After all, we all want to get to the top, not ‘nearly the top’, but the actual top. We also all want a photograph to remember the day and the views. We don’t want our pictures to be collage of people in fluorescent Gore-Tex.

Summit Slugs on Wetherlam - Photo from www.summiteer.co.uk

It needn’t be this way though. It is usually not difficult to find a quiet area just away from the true summit, out of sight and out of camera view. There is usually that nice flat spot just off to the side & sheltered from the wind. That is where to sit, to rest & to eat. Don’t perch stubbornly on the apex like an obnoxious child playing ‘king of the castle’. By all means enjoy a mountain top and linger there to your hearts content but when someone else turns up to stand happily on ‘their’ hard earned summit, don’t deny them the simple pleasure that you have just enjoyed. Please be considerate hiker. Move Off. Don’t be a Summit Hog.

Perhaps I'm just being naive, grumpy or idealistic. It's almost certainly an unrealistic proposition to expect such etiqutte on the most popular UK summits (Scafell Pike, Coniston Old Man, Snowdon!) but for the majority of fell & mountain tops I think a little 'summit courtesy' would go a long way. Thanks for reading. 

Comments and contrary opinions welcome.


Thanks for reading
Steve
May 2014.

14 comments:

  1. Guilty I'm sure and sorry and surprised it had never occurred to me. I usually do move away to get out of the wind and get the view but not always. Well written, thanks for raising it, I'll be more aware in future.

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    1. Many Thanks for your comment. Raising awareness was the intention of this post so I hope it achieves this without being to 'grumpy'.

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  2. Agreed! Especially as I have tried to get a photo of my rucksack on every summit I go to.

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    1. That must have been a challenge in itself on some of the busier fells !
      Ive climbed coniston old man more times than I can remember but never without a welcoming party on top.

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  3. I cannot agree more with you Steve! In fact, I am so aware of my own frustrations when experiencing the hogging, that I hardly linger at the summit at all. It's about getting the balance right I guess, not spending too long and respecting others. Well written with not a hint of grumpiness!

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    1. Thanks for commenting. It just boils down to common sense and common courtesy. Folk just need to be a bit more thoughtful and it's really not that hard.

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  4. i think ill start handing out cards with a link to this page LOL
    we call them summit slugs ATB

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    1. Thanks. I've thought about that myself too. I like 'summit slugs'. Seems to describe their behaviour more accurately :-)

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  5. Sitting or standing on Cairns is one sure way to destroy them too. The cairn on Kidsty Pike is no more thanks to Coast to Coast walkers and others doing precisely that. Stand next to them for a photo please and not 'ON' them!

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    1. Very good point & I quite agree. Just common sense and common courtesy.

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  6. Agree completely, not exactly sure why people want to rest or dine on the busiest part of the Fell anyway?
    I do like the term "summit slugs" :-D

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    1. Thanks Lee. Yeh you'd think most folk would prefer a quiet spot to have lunch but not unfortunately that is often not the case. They are probably the type of folk who generally like to draw attention to themselves socially. The type I instinctively avoid. I like 'summit slugs' too. In retrospect it would have made a better title for the post.

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  7. Hi
    i posted a link to your page you might want to check it out here :)

    http://www.walkingforum.co.uk/index.php?topic=34420.0

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    1. Thanks. I wondered why the page count went through the roof recently! Interesting comments. I'm surprised it generated so much interest! Nice to see that most folk tend to agree though.

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