There have been several hiking-related accidents in the past week, two of which lead to the untimely deaths of the participants. Stewart Goes Walkies laments these fatalities and we send our condolences to the families of the deceased. Both deaths were related to the extreme weather we are experiencing in Hong Kong at the present time.
As you will see from the graphics shown above, the weather is extremely hot. So much so that the elderly and infirm are being advised to take precautions, even when carrying out routine trips to the market. How much more planning, therefore, is necessary when planning a serious hike.
The First Incident
While there have been several incidents reported during the past week, two, in particular, stood out.
The first involved a 52-year-old man who passed out after climbing to the summit of Sharp Peak in the Sai Kung peninsula. Sharp Peak, also known as Nam She Tsim rises to a height of 468 metres (1,535 ft). The route is designated as ‘hard’ and should only be undertaken in suitable weather, and certainly not when a Hot Weather Warning has been issued.
To add to the tragedy of the situation, the hiker involved had suffered a mild stroke seven years ago and had been diagnosed with high blood pressure and high cholesterol.
I climbed Sharp Peak at the age of 27. It is not a route I would even consider today at the age of 69.
The Second Incident
The second incident involved a 60-year-old man who was out hiking with his autistic son.
According to the report they set out from Ngong ping on Lantau Island with the intention of climbing Lantau Peak and descending the route known as West Dog’s Teeth, one of the ridges leading off the mountain.
By the time the two hikers had reached the ridge, it was already evening and the father was feeling unwell. He sat down to rest and, strangely, the son continued down the ridge by himself. At some point in time, he injured his ankle and was only found the following day by another hiker who contacted the police. While the boy was being treated it was discovered that his father was still on the mountain. Subsequent Search and Rescue operations found him on the West Dog’s Teeth ridge. Unfortunately, he had already passed away.
The West Dog’s Teeth ridge is extremely hard. It is another route that I managed in my late 20s. It requires physical fitness and preparation and should not be attempted in any but the most suitable weather conditions. The fact that these hikers attempted it on one of the hottest days of the year is appalling.
It is very sad when any hiker passes away. Very often our love of the outdoors overshadows our common sense. Hiking fatalities are always something that happens to the ‘other guys’. If you take precautions and prepare you should be safe. Yes, you should be, but will you be prepared for any and all emergencies.
I am a firm believer in the saying that discretion is the better part of valor. This is borne out by my decision to abort the hike in the post, Kau Lui Ha to…Kau Lui Ha…? You may read about it here.
In the early 80s a friend of mine climbed Sunset Peak on Lantau on a Sunday afternoon. He was wearing jeans, a T-shirt, and flip-flops. He took no food or water with him. When one of his flip-flops broke on the descent he was forced to sleep out on the mountain before continuing on to Mui Wo the following morning. He was extremely fortunate that all he received was a sleepless night and some mosquito bites.
Stewart Goes Walkies urges our readers to exercise caution. The hills and mountains are there for our enjoyment and while every outing should have a degree of a challenge it is up to the individual to assess that challenge and his or her level of fitness and experience. We need to make sure that we come back in one piece so that the outing becomes a pleasant memory that does not include a trip to the Accident & Emergency Department.
Please be safe and sensible.
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