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Mountaineering Scotland safety officer Heather Morning to take up new role with Glenmore Lodge with wealth of research experience over accidents and fatalities on the hills

By John Davidson

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Heather Morning, Mountaineering Scotland.
Heather Morning, Mountaineering Scotland.

Scotland's leading mountain safety expert is heading to new heights next month.

Heather Morning is departing her role as mountain safety advisor with Mountaineering Scotland after almost 13 years.

She is to take on a new role in February as chief instructor for Glenmore Lodge, the national outdoor centre near Aviemore.

Ms Morning said that during her time in post she had studied a mass of data and statistics from Scottish mountain accidents.

And one of the emerging trends over the period was that men make up the vast majority of deaths on Scotland's mountains – and it may be because of male bravado.

Statistics covering a seven-year period up until the beginning of 2019 showed that women only then made up 10 of the 114 fatalities on Scotland's hills.

Ms Morning – one of the most respected and experienced figures in her field – said previously that she had been left with the conclusion that the gender fatality imbalance is largely down to male bravado and women are less influenced by peer pressure and tend to be more cautious.

"Research shows that the number of female fatalities in the mountains is a tiny percentage compared to the number of male fatalities,” she said.

"This low percentage is not reflective of the number of females who are out enjoying the Scottish mountains. Therefore, it would be too simplistic to suggest these numbers reflect the numbers of participants.

"In my opinion the reasons are multiple and complex. There is no doubt that women tend to be more risk averse in the mountains, will often even underestimate their own ability, and be over cautious.

"Men generally will take a more ‘gung-ho’ attitude towards risk and perhaps also be more influenced by peer pressure and the drive to succeed at all costs."

Ms Morning, who has also recently qualified as a recorder with the Scottish Avalanche Information Service, said she had enjoyed her time with Mountaineering Scotland and her message had been consistent. "It is important that people make the right informed decisions," she said.

"It is also true to say that a lot more people enjoy the mountains now than when I started but the same problems exist – mainly navigational errors, but now they are also caused by people relying too much on technology."

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