Day in the Life

Day in the life of Mark Hendry, Mountain Safety Advisor

Depending on how far into a hitch it is, the 04.45 alarm either springs or drags me into the day. 05.30 - toolbox and a final chance to see where mountaineers and crews will be heading. A first ration of coffee wakes me up for a detailed look at the day's plan on the maps.


The crew mountaineers will zone the terrain, supervise the crews, lay cable in the most serious areas and be ready to lead or assist in rescues if need be, my job is to see that all this is being done and done well.


A minor crisis in Cornflake acquisition leads once again to cold Chinese food for breakfast, rucksack packed and it's out on the ground to make the most out of the cooler mornings.


A 50 minute drive and it's a steady climb up onto the ridge and a chance to walk the line ahead of crews. It's time for me to stop thinking like a mountaineer and put myself in the shoes of a invincible 20 year old cable crew worker, tired, hot, thirsty and possibly looking for a dangerous shortcut. Red zones come in all shapes and sizes and it's often the smaller ones which concern me the most as they can tempt folk to try and climb them.


Likelihood and consequence rattle constantly through my head as I follow or scout the lines snaking down the hillside. A few hot hours walking and scrambling alone, phone calls to check with mountaineers' progress or problems, and meetings arranged for the evening.


Adjustments are made and notes taken, a last quick drink and a quiet moment to watch a pair of bearded vultures circling away below me and it's time to head back down.