Belfast Telegraph

Editor's Viewpoint: Men were victims of tragic misfortune

Editor's Viewpoint

Life is full of risks and sadly two men, both of them experienced in walking in the Mournes, lost their lives in the mountains at the weekend. While others walking and climbing noted that there were severe gusts during the day, there is no indication that was the cause of the fatalities.

The family of one of the deceased, Robbie Robinson, were at pains to point out that he died as a result of a freak accident, a slip on a patch of muddy ground which sent him tumbling to his death.

When we hear of deaths on the mountains or the sea, our first thoughts are that people had gone out unprepared or ill-equipped for the conditions.

That was not the case here. Mr Robinson had climbed all over the world and his family were adamant that it was happenstance, not the prevailing conditions, which was to blame for his death.

As ever, in this case special note must be taken of the work of the Mourne Mountain Rescue Team, which attended both accidents and another incident in which a walker broke an ankle.

Their expertise and courage in sometimes appalling conditions has to be applauded at every opportunity.

Of course, it is correct that in the wake of tragedies walkers and climbers are reminded of the necessity of taking every precaution when venturing into the mountains.

They must take appropriate clothing and equipment, note the weather forecast and leave information with a friend about when they intend to set out, the route they intend to take and when they expect to return. Then, in the case of mishap, rescuers have a good indication of where they are.

What has to be remembered is that the Mourne Mountains are among Northern Ireland's greatest natural assets and annually attract thousands of walkers and climbers of all grades of experience and fitness.

All are perfectly entitled to take advantage of the magnificent mountains and should not be denied that opportunity just because there is an inherent danger.

Of course, they should know their limitations and ideally should be part of a rambling group which will enable them to gain further experience from those who have been going to the mountains for years.

Sadly, tragedies will happen no matter how sensible the precautions and in this instance we extend our condolences to the bereaved of two men who died doing something they loved.

Belfast Telegraph

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