Mountaineering in the Nanny State

Snow covered mountains
Nanga Parbat (Killer Mountain)
Source: Flickr by Faisal.Saeed.
Whilst it is fairly true to say that health and safety regulations protect us from harm, injury and death in many circumstances, they can be a bureaucratic nightmare that end up stopping us from doing things that we enjoy. Some people believe that we live in a Nanny State that has taken health and safety so far that it is impinging upon our civil liberties.

Outdoor pursuits, such as hiking, climbing and mountaineering carry risks and as such health and safety must be considered, especially by companies that provide guiding services or by schools and other groups that take children on these activities. However, the inherent risk is one of the aspects of outdoor activities that makes them so rewarding. By placing health and safety restrictions on outdoor enthusiasts is our personal freedom being curtailed?

The attacks on freedom involve many types of sports and of social life, but the accidents occurring in mountaineering have a large resonance in the media, because they particularly attract the attention of the public. Carlo Zanantoni.

The Italian Observatory for Liberty

In response to Health and Safety gone mad in mountaineering, a new organisation been set up to resist national or local authorities constraining freedom of access and risk taking in mountaineering and climbing. One of the founders of The Italian Observatory for Liberty is Club Alpino Italiano (CAI) member Carlo Zanantoni. As a member of the UIAA Safety Commission for 12 years he is well placed to make an informed judgement.

The Italian Observatory is not just confining itself to campaigning against over zealous health & safety, but also against increasing attempts to curb liberty by lawyers and local authorities.

It isn’t easy for the public to accept the principle, sustained by the fathers of the liberal society, that there are forms of liberty that cannot be violated, as long as they don’t cause damage to the society. Carlo Zanantoni.

What Do you Think?

Should people have the freedom to put themselves at risk?
Are the risks over-stated anyway?
What freedoms should hikers, climbers and mountaineers have?

Leave a comment and join the discussion!


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