Thoughts on guiding

A few mores thoughts about the recent search & rescue operation we had on Hvannadalshnúkur (RÚV, Vísir), now that I’ve actually slept a bit.

We all make mistakes. As professional guides whose job it is to bring people into and back out of very remote areas, our mistakes have the potential of much more severe consequences, for ourselves and for our clients. And this is why training and experience are critical – to avoid making them, to identify them before the consequences become severe, and to be able to improvise a recovery from them.

Any guide who is convinced they have never made and never will make a single mistake probably just doesn’t yet have the experience to see where they should have acted differently, or has a dangerous ego that turns a blind eye to them.

Similarly, I don’t think there is a place for resentment against the guides involved. I cannot believe for a single moment that they were acting in a wilfully reckless manner, and everybody I talked with and who knows them is of the same opinion. Something went awry that day. But, again, we are all humans.

If this was just an incredible series of bad luck or some single mistake that wasn’t caught in time but is glaringly obvious in hindsight remains to be seen. Of course everybody is very curious and has many questions (myself included), but none of us knows all the facts and some of the publicised information may not even be fully accurate. It might take some days of reflection and many conversations, both amongst the people involved and between them and others, to get a clear picture of what happened and why.

Once we know more, we can go forward in a productive way – learn as much as we all can from what happened, and figure out what could be done to avoid those situations in the future. 

Until then, I’ll see you in the mountains.