I am amazed by how much chatter the question of what are still considered ‘safe trails’ gets. All of a sudden people are experts on ‘the rules of hiking’ and which routes are SAFE.
RULE NUMBER ONE: Let me tell you nobody has ever come to grief hiking alone. (Before you move on to pretty cat pictures in your feed hear me out and read on.) It is true!
Most Search and Rescue folk will agree that accidents are a combination of small ‘bad’ decisions. Let me rephrase that: “small sub optimal decisions”.
One of those could be walking alone, or wearing expensive jewellery or not taking a map or not carrying a first aid kit. These are not rules. They are decisions which potentially put you more at risk. Just like soloing the North Wall of the Eiger. The act is not the cause.
The real problem comes when we are not aware of the small decisions we have made and how they affect our present state. Right here and right now.
And our current state is in constant change and hence needs constant awareness and adjustment. Does my current pace mean I will be benighted? Does me going off the path here mean that a search will be exponentially harder? Dose scrambling down this cliff put me into another level of danger?
Decisions don’t add up. They grow exponentially and we forget that.
Just because I have never had a problem running alone does not make it safe. It is just confirmation bias.
By the same token just because somebody has been hurt on path x does not make it unsafe.
I have friends who carry. I am not one of them. I trust they know their art and are well versed. I am not.
I prefer to be aware of my surroundings and when I say ‘run’ you better haul ass RIGHT NOW.
My job as a guide is to worry so you don’t have to. My job is to constantly be aware of and assess myself, my group and our surroundings and the interaction between all three and how they change and constantly make adjustments.
This attitude is not unique to guides but should be all our attitudes on the mountains and elsewhere.