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Two Brazilian pilgrims rescued on Route Napoleon


2018 edition Camino Guides

Bradypus

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#1
Two Brazilian pilgrims crossing the Route Napoleon ran into difficulties with the weather and contacted the emergency services by radio from the Izandorre refuge hut. They were rescued using an off-road vehicle - probably the one mentioned in a press article yesterday. In a post yesterday which has since been removed from the APOC Facebook group one young man described the treacherous conditions which he and a companion encountered crossing the high-level route despite it being officially closed and his companion's hypothermia symptoms. It appears there are still people ignoring the closure and running into dangerous situations.

http://navarra.elespanol.com/articu...ndorre-roncesvalles/20170313192457102257.html
http://www.noticiasdenavarra.com/20...quieren-un-vehiculo-para-rescates-en-la-nieve
 

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VNwalking

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#3
'No' is such a simple word.
I'm very glad no lives were lost, and hope these two learned that this small word applies to them too, as well as it does to 'other people.'
 
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Sparrow in Texas

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#7
Pilgrims from North America and the EU are generally aware of various cultural expectations and other specifics of the Camino such as stopping in with the pilgrim's office and checking the weather. How do pilgrims from, say Asia or South America, get specific information about the Camino if their ability to read the particular guides that most of us use is limited? I ask this sincerely, not as a cultural criticism.
 

Camino Chris

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#8
No, the problem is that, in recent times, there are more and more pilgrims who get into trouble and need rescuing. I hope that threads like this will help to spread the word. I feel more could be done to inform and warn people long before they have finalized their plans and arrived in SJPdP.
I agree, but anyone visiting the Pilgrim's office in SJPdP would be told to take the Valcarlos route at this time of year. Brierkey's guide (and probably all others) mention it as well, being the lower, more safe route. I think there is plenty of information available on the perils of the Napoleon route. I surprisingly have read on this forum that even in May some have encountered snow!
 

VNwalking

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#9
How do pilgrims from, say Asia or South America, get specific information about the Camino if their ability to read the particular guides that most of us use is limited?
I don't know about other Asian and South American countries, @Sparrow in Texas, but I do know there are guides available in both Korea and Brazil.
 

Camino Chris

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#10
I don't know about other Asian and South American countries, @Sparrow in Texas, but I do know there are guides available in both Korea and Brazil.
At the Pilgrim's office I was given a sheet of paper with map showing both routes out of SJPdP, and a volunteer in the office went over it with me. Also, I believe I remember a larger size of this map on the wall. In my opinion, it's a rather simple "universal" map that should be able to be interpreted by sight by anyone who takes the time to study it.
 

Camino Chris

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#11
The blanket ban (November-March) is only into its second year and less widely known.
I guess we'll never know for sure if the people rescued were ignorant of the facts, or over confident with the thought they could power through any weather situation!
 

Bradypus

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Too many and too often!
#12
Pilgrims from North America and the EU are generally aware of various cultural expectations and other specifics of the Camino such as stopping in with the pilgrim's office and checking the weather. How do pilgrims from, say Asia or South America, get specific information about the Camino if their ability to read the particular guides that most of us use is limited? I ask this sincerely, not as a cultural criticism.
I think that most Brazilians although speakers of Portuguese would be able to make a reasonable stab at interpreting information in Spanish which is after all the predominant language of the Camino. Also in the tweet from the Bomberos which @Kathar1na mentions above there is this image of the warning closure sign which is mainly graphic and intended to be understood by all:
sign.jpg
 

VNwalking

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#14
And as we all agree that these people were at best misguided, I for one don't think it serves any purpose to rehash the last thread that happened when someone came to grief up there because of who knows what.
None of us were there, so we'll never know.
Yes, mistakes were made--to say the least, this was not the best of decisions on their part. Enough said.
Fortunately they're fine, and hopefully they've learned a lesson.

But it is useful to reflect upon two things.
It could be any of us making a mistake. Maybe not this one. But there's an infinitude of others.
And how to better get the word out and so prevent this in the future--which may not be possible. Signage and information from the Pilgrim's office are quite clear. And people will be people.
 
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MTtoCamino

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#15
We have had this discussion many times unless they fence it off, & even if they do people will ignore it. Nature determines needed education
 
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#16
I hope these people are made to pay the FULL cost of their rescue. It is more expensive than most people realize to maintain and operate a rescue service like this, not even including the risks run by the people doing the rescue. In my younger days I was a backcountry ranger for the National Park Service in the USA and based upon this experience I understand there are young (usually men) who think they are superman and can do what nobody else can. Then the professionals and the local people have to bail them out. I doubt it was lack of information in this case. Look at that sign and the field of snow behind. Any competent adult would have realized this was suitable only for well equipped winter mountaineering, if that, not a walk between beds on the Camino. Last year I crossed from SJPP into Spain in March, via Valcarlos. It is the only reasonable route at this time of year.
 
M

Mark Lee

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#18
Initially I assumed that maybe the attempt was done due to reckless optimism of youth, but then I read it involved a 49 year old man and his 19 year old son.
For them to travel to Spain to walk the Camino would take planning, and research. In that I am sure they would see information concerning which route is open or closed and when and why. The hazards of the Napoleon route in winter, snowy conditions, etc.
In all likelihood they ignored any warnings and tried it anyway. As selfish and egocentric as it sounds, there are those out there who say to themselves if they get in trouble, somebody will come and save them.
Still, good to hear nobody died (especially on the rescue side), and that is an interesting looking tracked all terrain vehicle (ATV) the rescue team has. At least they have got to test it out in a real life scenario.
 

Camino Chris

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#19
Here is an article that summarizes last year's winter season and rescue actions (in Spanish). It also lists the hourly costs you may get billed if you need rescuing. One pilgrim received a 5360 EUR bill last year - also in March.

There is also this comment (my translation effort):
But why do some chose this route in winter when there is an easier alternative [via Valcarlos]? It seems that the French have initiated a campaign to lead the pilgrims onto the Route of Napoleon [I am not certain about the following: changing local place names such as the "Bentartea spring" into "Roland's spring"?]. Pilgrims therefore believe that this route is more authentic and will be experienced as an adventure. What they do not know is that in wintery conditions the difficulties change radically. In fact, most of those who cross are not well equipped or able to orient themselves when way markers and other orientation signs are covered by snow. Instead, they are confident when they leave Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port (165 m) and see the sun shining, without knowing anything about what they are going to find at an altitude of 1430 meters on the Lepoeder pass.

I don't think that "the French" are to be blamed alone but this route is heavily promoted and glorified in blogs, books, articles, movies. And that is what I mean: some people are so geared up to not wanting to miss this supposedly extraordinary once-in-a-lifetime experience of walking the route Napoleon that it may appear too late for them to change their plans when they learn only the day before that they are not supposed to take this road (in March/during the winter months).

And another disappointment: So Roland did not drink from this spring? ;)
I took the Valcarlos route on my first Camino in 2015 as I was too late to get a reservation at Orrison. Plus I was pretty fearful to tackle the Napoleon on my first day out of SJPdP on April 13th (being early 60's), and around the dinner table at Corazon Puro the night before a Spanish couple said they were forced to spend the previous night in that hut up top! Another English man said he encountered snow and slipped. Well, that solidified for me that I was going to take the Valcarlos route! I was so glad I did. I have wonderful memories of mild weather with almost no wind and lovely landscapes.When I reached Roncevalles, most everyone arriving off the Napoleon had muddy shoes and pants and very disheveled looking... I say "You don't miss what you don't know." And "If it aint broke, why fix it." I return in 30 days and will once again choose the Valcarlos route.
 

Camino Chris

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#20
I hope these people are made to pay the FULL cost of their rescue. It is more expensive than most people realize to maintain and operate a rescue service like this, not even including the risks run by the people doing the rescue. In my younger days I was a backcountry ranger for the National Park Service in the USA and based upon this experience I understand there are young (usually men) who think they are superman and can do what nobody else can. Then the professionals and the local people have to bail them out. I doubt it was lack of information in this case. Look at that sign and the field of snow behind. Any competent adult would have realized this was suitable only for well equipped winter mountaineering, if that, not a walk between beds on the Camino. Last year I crossed from SJPP into Spain in March, via Valcarlos. It is the only reasonable route at this time of year.
I say Amen to that!
 
W

whariwharangi

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#22
At least they had comms and enough sense to call for help when they found themselves out of their depth. Doing so from Izandorre refuge hut meant they had a good reference point for the rescuers too.
 

Felipe

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#23
It should be also noted that as you cross into Spain (I believe it is after Roldan fountain) there are, since 2010, posts with consecutive numbers, so stranded walkers could give rescuers their precise ubication.
I did not notice it, but the reliable consumer.eroski place mentions that in the Izandorre hut there is a sat comm line, connected to the 112-sos Navarra. You push the device button to talk.
Evidently, respecting the dates when this route is closed is not a "recommendation"; it is mandatory. But an emergency situation could come very unexpectedly in a mountain pass, even if the season and weather seems right at the beginning of the journey.
 

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#25
I say let's stop making excuses for these people and call a spade a spade. Call it the rush of adrenalyn, the effect of fresh air on the brain.
Lots of my friends would call "spade for a spade" a racist connotation. I still don't believe this kind of bravado is anything but stupidity.
 

Bradypus

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#26
At least they had comms and enough sense to call for help when they found themselves out of their depth. Doing so from Izandorre refuge hut meant they had a good reference point for the rescuers too.
From the article it appears that they used the emergency radio system installed in the shelter rather than comms they brought with them. I haven't been over the Route Napoleon myself since 2002. No idea what mobile phone coverage there is like.
 
A

Anemone del Camino

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#27
... but this route is heavily promoted and glorified in blogs, books, articles, movies. And that is what I mean: some people are so geared up to not wanting to miss this supposedly extraordinary once-in-a-lifetime experience of walking the route Napoleon that it may appear too late for them to change their plans when they learn only the day before that they are not supposed to take this road (in March/during the winter months).
;)
Can't remember a single movie or book that sets the Napoleon in winter. Perhaps Ivar should start selling "Into Thin Air" an account of an Everest disaster that happened because people did not listen and did not stick to the plan as they were "so close to the summit". Scuba divers know very well what happens if they ignore diving tables/computers, why can't walkers figure this out?
 

poogeyejr

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#29
Lots of my friends would call "spade a spade" a racist connotation.
Where were you raised Don? I had never heard this interpretation until you mentioned it. Although I am Canadian, I have been raised on the British English and I knew Spade was another word for Shovel. Would the french "appeler un chat, un chat." have the same racist connotations? - - Just curious.
 

ValsaceK

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#30
I'm a rule follower for sure so I find the attempt with signs posted closed a bit unthinkable for an adult with his son. I know my son might think I'm extreme when it comes following rules, warnings, and advice given by those who know the area or situation better than myself... but as he's become an adult he has followed suit! This Dad has to be so thankful for the rescue team and embarrassed. Hard lesson for sure and I hope it cost his pocket book! I leave for my first Camino 2 weeks from today and I'll be traveling the Valcarlos! I learned from the forum that Napoleon was closed until April 1 and might not be open even on that date...Valcarlos here I come....
 
A

Anemone del Camino

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#32
The link you posted answers your question. Did you read the entire article?
The slur is in American English usage; apparently the phrase does not have the same connotation in the UK or Canada.
No, I read a good portion of it and saw ot was not issue. Something to keep in mond south of the border, but not applied elsewhere apparently.
 
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poogeyejr

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#34
What fascinates me is that in such a global forum as this one, (as global as it can be considering we are writing in English), there would be hundreds and hundreds of such implications for what we say. Each culture/cultural group having their own interpretation of any given phrase and their own reaction to it. If we are not a part of that group, we would not know the implications of what we were saying.

Dialogue - human to human - it is a tricky thing! :confused:
 

poogeyejr

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#35

C clearly

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#36
Lots of my friends would call "spade for a spade" a racist connotation.
See this Wikipedia article about the phrase, which originated long before the word "spade" had developed another meaning in the USA.

The last sentence says "The phrase predates the use of the word "spade" as an ethnic slur against African Americans, which was not recorded until 1928; however, in contemporary U.S. society, the idiom is often avoided due to potential confusion with the slur."
 

alexwalker

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#39
The Universe and human stupidity are infinite. On second thoughts, I am not so sure about The Universe. (Albert Einstein).
 

Camino Chris

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#40
See this Wikipedia article about the phrase, which originated long before the word "spade" had developed another meaning in the USA.

The last sentence says "The phrase predates the use of the word "spade" as an ethnic slur against African Americans, which was not recorded until 1928; however, in contemporary U.S. society, the idiom is often avoided due to potential confusion with the slur."
I must really have my head in the sand as I'm from the USA and have never heard the word "spade" as slang referring to African Americans. But I think I will start using "call a cat is a cat". Hopefully that will not be offensive to anyone...but then again, hmmm.
 

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#41

MTtoCamino

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#42
I must really have my head in the sand as I'm from the USA and have never heard the word "spade" as slang referring to African Americans. But I think I will start using "call a cat is a cat". Hopefully that will not be offensive to anyone...but then again, hmmm.
This is verbiage that definitely existed unfortunately in what I refer to as my homogenized part of the country. It is like all things a bad habit of use,because it is used also to describe things other than our brothers & sisters of color. That is in fact a way to dehumanize. In order to eliminate it from local speech best never to use it. Even if it was used in daily language from childhood.
 
A

Anemone del Camino

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#43
This is verbiage that definitely existed unfortunately in what I refer to as my homogenized part of the country. It is like all things a bad habit of use,because it is used also to describe things other than our brothers & sisters of color. That is in fact a way to dehumanize. In order to eliminate it from local speech best never to use it. Even if it was used in daily language from childhood.
Will be sure not to use the term when acroos the border. Bit what a sad reflectionon how the ise of language can go sideways and cause such uneasiness jist like that.
 

Saint Mike II

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#44
Is the word "IDIOTS" allowed on the Forum without offending certain people who can not read or follow simple rules and signage. Guess what, closed means: closed.
Thanks Don - I was thinking along the lines of "crazy" but maybe your term is closer to the truth. I have not read the newspaper article - have they been fined or made to pay the rescue costs??
 

Saint Mike II

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#45
No, the problem is that, in recent times, there are more and more pilgrims who get into trouble and need rescuing. I hope that threads like this will help to spread the word. I feel more could be done to inform and warn people long before they have finalized their plans and arrived in SJPdP.
Someone please correct me - but if I recall correctly when the Government of the Navarra Province posted this notice - closing the route from 1 Nov to 31 March - it implied that anyone needing to be rescued(?) would be charged the cost of the rescue. Have our friends been charged?? If not then they should have - I am sure that the pilgrim office in St Jean would have told them the route was closed.:mad:
 
A

Anemone del Camino

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#46
Someone please correct me - but if I recall correctly when the Government of the Navarra Province posted this notice - closing the route from 1 Nov to 31 March - it implied that anyone needing to be rescued(?) would be charged the cost of the rescue. Have our friends been charged?? If not then they should have - I am sure that the pilgrim office in St Jean would have told them the route was closed.:mad:
Me thinks that fancy snow mobile will be paid in no time!
 

C clearly

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#47
This is verbiage that definitely existed unfortunately in what I refer to as my homogenized part of the country. It is like all things a bad habit of use,because it is used also to describe things other than our brothers & sisters of color. That is in fact a way to dehumanize. In order to eliminate it from local speech best never to use it. Even if it was used in daily language from childhood.
The expression was used for 1000 years without any connection at all to race, direct or indirect. It referred to a common item - a shovel. Only recently, coincidentally, the word "spade" has become associated with race, but many of us English-speakers grew up without that new association. So, I'd argue that it is not a "bad habit of use" or "dehumanizing" by the people who innocently use it. It is not one of those nasty phrases that is built into our language until its nastiness becomes almost invisible. Rather the unpleasantness is a new meaning that crept in.

I accept that it is therefore unwise to use the phrase anymore. But it is not a phrase that stems from racism.
 

Camino Chris

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#48
The expression was used for 1000 years without any connection at all to race, direct or indirect. It referred to a common item - a shovel. Only recently, coincidentally, the word "spade" has become associated with race, but many of us English-speakers grew up without that new association. So, I'd argue that it is not a "bad habit of use" or "dehumanizing" by the people who innocently use it. It is not one of those nasty phrases that is built into our language until its nastiness becomes almost invisible. Rather the unpleasantness is a new meaning that crept in.

I accept that it is therefore unwise to use the phrase anymore. But it is not a phrase that stems from racism.
Thank you, C clearly for your comment. You speak for me, as well!
 

MTtoCamino

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#49
The expression was used for 1000 years without any connection at all to race, direct or indirect. It referred to a common item - a shovel. Only recently, coincidentally, the word "spade" has become associated with race, but many of us English-speakers grew up without that new association. So, I'd argue that it is not a "bad habit of use" or "dehumanizing" by the people who innocently use it. It is not one of those nasty phrases that is built into our language until its nastiness becomes almost invisible. Rather the unpleasantness is a new meaning that crept in.

I accept that it is therefore unwise to use the phrase anymore. But it is not a phrase that stems from racism.
I agree with you when using in a positive way. Unfortunately I have witnessed bad people use it to express their hate. Unfortunatly after the use of a weapon.We all have unique life experience so I simply do not use it. If I insulted you it was not intended.
 

Saint Mike II

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#50
I must really have my head in the sand as I'm from the USA and have never heard the word "spade" as slang referring to African Americans. But I think I will start using "call a cat is a cat". Hopefully that will not be offensive to anyone...but then again, hmmm.
I have to agree - I have never heard the word "spade" applied to any person or racial group. Whilst not American I consider myself across most "slang"terms. It sounds as if someone as gone off "half-cocked". Still if others consider if offensive I will not use it on this forum.
 

C clearly

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#51
If I insulted you it was not intended.
No, no. I was not insulted. I wanted to point out that this phrase is the victim of changing times, but people who use it are not necessarily aware that it is becoming unacceptable (for reasons that are not its fault).

I accept that language changes, and that flexibility is one of the strengths of English!
 

Magnara

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#53
Two Brazilian pilgrims crossing the Route Napoleon ran into difficulties with the weather and contacted the emergency services by radio from the Izandorre refuge hut. They were rescued using an off-road vehicle - probably the one mentioned in a press article yesterday. In a post yesterday which has since been removed from the APOC Facebook group one young man described the treacherous conditions which he and a companion encountered crossing the high-level route despite it being officially closed and his companion's hypothermia symptoms. It appears there are still people ignoring the closure and running into dangerous situations.

http://navarra.elespanol.com/articu...ndorre-roncesvalles/20170313192457102257.html
http://www.noticiasdenavarra.com/20...quieren-un-vehiculo-para-rescates-en-la-nieve
We walked it in January in the years before there were any warning signs. Halfway up we were suddenly caught in a blizzard that seemed to come out of nowhere. We really felt that we were in serious danger. It is very real that the weather can close in incredibly quickly with fierce winds and a freezing temperature. I would definitely urge people to take notice of local advice and warning signs and not put themselves and others at risk.
 

SYates

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#54
Someone please correct me - but if I recall correctly when the Government of the Navarra Province posted this notice - closing the route from 1 Nov to 31 March - it implied that anyone needing to be rescued(?) would be charged the cost of the rescue. Have our friends been charged?? If not then they should have - I am sure that the pilgrim office in St Jean would have told them the route was closed.:mad:
As far as I know that is still the case, but can't find the respective link just now. And not only have you to pay for the rescue, you also get fined if you are 'just' caught on the closed route, even if you don't need rescuing. I am pretty sure the two pilgrims are facing now a heavy bill composed of rescue costs plus fine.

Buen Camino, SY

PS Having been in SJPdP last winter I can reassure everybody that it is impossible to 'overlook' the signs that announce the route closing - there are big and clear!
 

SYates

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#55
The only time that there was some kind of official or public information about the recovery of costs for a rescue action during November to March was last year (March 2016) for a rather spectacular and difficult rescue when it was announced that the two pilgrims concerned will receive a bill, one for several thousand euros and the other for a much lower sum.

Has anyone ever reported that this relatively remote 5 km stretch of the route Napoléon is policed or a fine of any kind was ever issued? I don't think so!!! The number of the applicable Spanish law (a resolucion) is on the sign that is posted at altitude (see link and photo in earlier messages in this thread). You can google it and then google translate it but there is no explicit mention of cost recovery or the amount of a potential fine in this text.

Which is again my point: clear and accurate information (about the closure during November to March and the risk of a large bill) provided to potential pilgrims long before their last night or first and only half day in SJPP may act as a deterrent for some.
Here you go http://www.aucoeurduchemin.org/Actualites/ACCUEIL-TOUTE-L-ANNEE and here a quick Google Translate of the relevant parts:

A fine of up to € 12,000
- If relief is needed, they will be fully paid for:
PRICE OF THE TIME of intervention:
For EACH rescuer: 30 €
Ambulance ......................... 65 €
Jeep, Van etc ................. 30 €
Aerial assistance: Helico ambulance ....... € 1360.00
Helico of emergency ......... € 1400.00

That can add up quickly! Buen Camino, SY
 

SYates

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Now: http://egeria.house/
#56
I read the "a fine of ..." as a "up to ... Euro fine", something which is quite normal for on the spot fines issued by the police as it takes in account the individual circumstances of the 'offender'. For example a person that has been already 'turned around' by the police and then tries to take the closed route again and is caught again will, most likely, get a higher fine then somebody that walked back to SJPdP and is never seen again on the closed route.

As for reporting on the fines, it is in the hand of the journalists and I think "XYZ pilgrims lost and rescued" makes for a better headline then "Pilgrims fined for using closed route", also I agree I would love to see more such reports as they would serve as a great deterrent to others that thing the route closures doesn't apply to them.

Buen Camino, SY
 
#57
Two Brazilian pilgrims crossing the Route Napoleon ran into difficulties with the weather and contacted the emergency services by radio from the Izandorre refuge hut. They were rescued using an off-road vehicle - probably the one mentioned in a press article yesterday. In a post yesterday which has since been removed from the APOC Facebook group one young man described the treacherous conditions which he and a companion encountered crossing the high-level route despite it being officially closed and his companion's hypothermia symptoms. It appears there are still people ignoring the closure and running into dangerous situations.

http://navarra.elespanol.com/articu...ndorre-roncesvalles/20170313192457102257.html
http://www.noticiasdenavarra.com/20...quieren-un-vehiculo-para-rescates-en-la-nieve

We have a saying in my country ' an idiot is born every minute '. Lucky nobody lost their life. Remember rescue crews die to try save people. A heilicopter missing of west coast of Ireland with 4 crew. Pilot recovered and died 3 still missing presumed dead. On rescue mission rip
 

VNwalking

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#58
Prayers and condolences...this is very sad news, @as gaillimh.
If people understood the consequences of their rash actions to innocent lives they would not likely do silly things. But that is the nature of delusion--and there will always be that as long as there are people.

There is more than adequate information in the official places--the signs, and at the Pilgrim's office.
Maybe the way forward for more education is not so much as here on the Forum but in the general realm of cyber space. There's certainly a place for an antidote to the romantic hype, about this route in particular--and real information about the risks it poses to the ungrounded. In my cynical moments I think some people are trying to live out the back-story to the beginning of The Way.
 

MTtoCamino

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#59
I don't quite understand this last sentence. I am still a (perhaps delusional) believer in education. Many here are members of camino associations, give talks to future pilgrims, write books and pamphlets read by future pilgrims. I hope that they do not only extol the wonders of walking the camino but also provide solid and accurate information. That's why I'm often interested in how and why something happened and how it can be prevented in future. It's more helpful than just expressing indignation, in my humble view.
Sometimes people only get a clear understanding or education when they make a choice in the backcountry. I doubt very much this father & son will forget how quickly the elements or weather (nature)changed their situation. They survived so it turned out good. Nature does educate. This will not be the last situation of people ignoring or making a choice to take this route in the winter.
 

Camino Chris

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#60
Found something on the costs that is neither anectodal nor a news article. Nothing on fines, though. So the costs that may be billed to you for a rescue operation can hit you anywhere and in many situations, not only on the top stretch of the route Napoleon. It is covered by an extensive and long law for Navarra (other regions have something similar) and you find it here http://www.lexnavarra.navarra.es/detalle.asp?r=28015 - LEY FORAL 7/2001, DE 27 DE MARZO, DE TASAS Y PRECIOS PÚBLICOS. This is the original version, without any later amendments. Mark it for future reference ;).

Article 51bis has the whole list of items that may be billed to you for a rescue operation, ranging from 30 EUR/h for each member of the rescue staff taking part to the 1400 EUR for your helicopter evacuation.

Para 1c is the clue: Rescate en zonas de riesgo o de difícil acceso, cuando sea debido a conductas imprudentes o temerarias del beneficiario - which is something like "may be imposed/billable for rescue in areas that are risk-prone or difficult to access and when due to imprudent or reckless behaviour [of the person to be rescued].
For those of us who purchase good quality travel insurance, including heli rescue if needed, do you think the cost of rescue would still be covered by said insurance for someone choosing to ignore sign posted warnings?
 

Felipe

Veteran Member
#61
The French forum "Au coeur du chemin" (of Association des Amis du Chemin de St Jacques en Pyrénées)
published a list of fines for being rescued as a result of not respecting the closure of this route in winter.
It does not mention the Spanish original source. I have not found it online.
The issue of fines, safety of this route, education, etc., was discussed in our forum, here, some time ago.

Edited: this newspaper note mentions that two rescued pilgrims were charged last year around 6000 euros each for being rescued in the Napoleon route (although the place mentioned is Ibañeta) because of "reckless and careless behavior", plus the unspecified costs of medical attention. Interestingly, the personnel or the rescue teams (I suppose the firemen of Burguete) seems completely opposed to the idea of fines.
 
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SYates

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...
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#62
For those of us who purchase good quality travel insurance, including heli rescue if needed, do you think the cost of rescue would still be covered by said insurance for someone choosing to ignore sign posted warnings?
The answer should be in the fine print of the policy purchased but for "someone choosing to ignore sign posted warnings" the answer is most likely NO as insurance companies are in the business of making money ;-) Buen Camino, SY
 

Rick of Rick and Peg

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#63
A very well known saying in the U.S. Coast Guard regarding orders to rescue teams:
You have to go out, but you don't have to come back!
 

Felipe

Veteran Member
#64
I'm disappointed in you ;). It is obvious that people often don't bother to read subsequent replies in a thread or click on a link and read up on it but to paraphrase Cesar: Et tu, Felipe? :cool:.
Very proper metaphor, since today is precisely the ides of March. But I swear that when I wrote the previous post, I was not hiding a dagger in my toga;).
The fines mentioned in this French forum post seem to be those included in a more recent "decreto" (2016) of Xunta de Navarra, specifically related to the Camino. Probably a secondary and specific regulation of the general law.
 
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zrexer

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#65
IMG_0071.JPG It's not like the Valcarlos route is always snow free either. I walked in snow for the last 2 hours into Roncesvalles on April 8th last year. Being from northern Alberta, it was no big deal. I train in snow for 5 months of the year walking. But some pilgrims from warm, snow free countries seemed a little freaked out by it! Picture is from the evening we got to Roncesvalles, the snow was melting, but I gather that morning it was pretty heavily covered from the night before.
 
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VNwalking

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#66
To second @ZREXER 's observation--March 2015...On the Valcarlos Route up to Roncesvalles, the trail was packed down pretty well but was maybe knee deep or or deeper, then it was about the same but much softer and harder walking off the road between Roncesvalles and Burguete-- and only patchy thereafter...the pic was taken well out of the heavy snow zone and you can see how white the peaks in the distance are.
 

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VNwalking

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#68
Shakespeare and the Buddha are in uncanny similar on this one and both quotes apply here.
(Shakespeare seems to have been a bit more of a cynic than the Buddha--perhaps it was the accumulation of 2000 more years of human idiocy?)
"The fool who knows he is a fool is at least a little wise.The fool who thinks he is wise is assuredly a fool." (B)
"The fool doth think he is wise, but the wise man knows himself to be a fool."(S)

May we all be wise fools and not unmitigated idiots.:D
Please walk safe, everyone--for your own sake and for the sake of those who put their lives on the line to help if it all goes south.
 

fraluchi

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#69
We are teaching to the converted. We often oversee the fact that simple people who live in towns have no experience with fast changing weather conditions in mountains, ocean, lakes, etc. nor the ability to interpret these signs in a "foreign" environment. It's like those skiers who fancy off-track and have no idea of the dangers of avalanches. "Me la juego!" I'll risk it. That's where the shoe hurts.:eek:
 

domigee

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#70
It's like those skiers who fancy off-track and have no idea of the dangers of avalanches. "Me la juego!" I'll risk it. That's where the shoe hurts.:eek:
Oh yes, skiing and may I add to this sailing!
But sorry for getting off topic :oops:
 

Tincatinker

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#71
On this occasion a tragedy has been averted and, perhaps, a lesson learnt.

While I accept that the authorities in France and Navarra have done their level best to make pilgrims aware of the hazards and the restrictions that prevail I believe it is the duty of every experienced pilgrim; of this forum; of every guidebook, app, and Camino related website to broadcast the message. The Way is not a movie. It can be a dangerous place to be.
 

Camino Chris

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#73
You should not think this question let alone ask it or expect a reply on a public forum ;). Seriously, don't worry about it, don't do it, now that you are a well informed traveler.

Simple advice for anyone who believes their life is not complete if they have not walked the route Napoleon in the Pyrenees:
  1. Don't start on any day in Nov, Dec, Jan, Feb, Mar.
  2. If in Apr, May, Jun, Jul, Aug, Sep, Oct, the route is closed or the weather so bad that you are advised not to walk, wait until the conditions have improved.
  3. Come back another time for a bit of vacation in SJPP or any of the lovely places near it and go for your walk.
I think you misunderstood me. I was not referring to myself, but thinking of the father/son in that rescue situation, just wondering if the rescue cost billed to them would possibly be covered if they had purchased insurance. Personally, I always take the Valcarlos route. My insurance is for peace of mind if I'd break my foot!
 
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#74
Found something on the costs that is neither anectodal nor a news article. Nothing on fines, though. So the costs that may be billed to you for a rescue operation can hit you anywhere and in many situations, not only on the top stretch of the route Napoleon. It is covered by an extensive and long law for Navarra (other regions have something similar) and you find it here http://www.lexnavarra.navarra.es/detalle.asp?r=28015 - LEY FORAL 7/2001, DE 27 DE MARZO, DE TASAS Y PRECIOS PÚBLICOS. This is the original version, without any later amendments. Mark it for future reference ;).

Article 51bis has the whole list of items that may be billed to you for a rescue operation, ranging from 30 EUR/h for each member of the rescue staff taking part to the 1400 EUR for your helicopter evacuation.

Para 1c is the clue: Rescate en zonas de riesgo o de difícil acceso, cuando sea debido a conductas imprudentes o temerarias del beneficiario - which is something like "may be imposed/billable for rescue in areas that are risk-prone or difficult to access and when due to imprudent or reckless behaviour [of the person to be rescued].
I walked the Camino del Salvador in December 2015. I was advised by forum members to think twice about doing it in the winter due to the risk of snow on the high ground. There were no official warnings provided along the route, however, which makes me wonder if I was being imprudent or reckless (rather than merely adventurous), and therefore liable to a bill in the event of needing rescue. If yes, how is one to know how to approach winter walks in the north of Spain, which is notoriously hilly/mountainous?
 

Kanga

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#75
The problem is that no-one thinks the problem (i.e. needing to be rescued) will happen to them. If they did, they would not do it. Which is why it might be better if the Navarra authorities imposed a straight out fine for anyone who attempts the Napoleon when the route is closed.

The two Brazilian pilgrims who were rescued were probably fans of Paulo Coelho. Following his description of taking four days to wander between SJPDP and Roncesvalles (if I have it right, I never had the patience to read the book).
 

Tincatinker

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#76
James me old mukka, you sought advice, took note of it - and went boldly where some might fear to tread. But then you did that in clear and certain knowledge that there might be risks attached to your venture. Add to that that I know where your from and therefore I know that you've done "hills" for breakfast.

If the poor benighted authorities of Spain were supposed to put a warning notice on every available hazard in their lovely country then there would hardly be room for a little yellow arrow. And the moors of this blessed isle would be closed from September to August.

Buen, safe, Caminos amigos.
 

Saint Mike II

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#77
For those of us who purchase good quality travel insurance, including heli rescue if needed, do you think the cost of rescue would still be covered by said insurance for someone choosing to ignore sign posted warnings?
Whilst my knowledge of ALL travel insurance policies is incomplete, my travel insurance does mention in the exclusions - and breaches of civil laws (as in the case of our Brazilian friends) would render the policy null & void. So I doubt your insurance company would pay up to cover your fine or the cost of you calling in a civil helicopter to evacuate you. Anybody who has had dealings with insurance companies will be aware that they will always try to find a way of not paying up!! Cheers
 
M

Mark Lee

Guest
#79
The two Brazilian pilgrims who were rescued were probably fans of Paulo Coelho. Following his description of taking four days to wander between SJPDP and Roncesvalles (if I have it right, I never had the patience to read the book).
You didn't miss much. After two chapters I ditched it and put it back on the donativo table where I found it. I quickly learned why it looked so unused.
I doubt highly he roamed about like a gnome for four days and nights amongst the hilltops between SJPdP and Roncesvalles. It just sounds interesting. Besides, I read somewhere he later admitted he didn't even walk the entire Camino Frances.
 

HedaP

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#81
In mid September 2015 I inadvertently walked the Napolean route when it was closed due to ex-tropical storm Henri. This storm killed three people in France. I can tell you stories of the walk that would raise the hairs on the back of your neck. It was scary. Took us 10 hours to walk 20 kms. I spent most of the time looking for places to hole up as pretty much convinced I would be spending the night on the mountain. Leaving from Orisson, no one told us the route closed and we had no other way of knowing. I guess the point I'm trying to make is that until we know all the details we need to be a bit wary. But then again I'm an Aussie. There is little excuse for any stupidity or ignorance that puts our rescuers at risk.
 
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alexwalker

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#82
"
He who doesn't know and doesn't know that he doesn't know, is a fool; Avoid him.
He who doesn't know and knows that he doesn't know, is hopeful; Teach him.
He who knows and knows that he knows, is wise; Follow him.
"

Old Chinese saying.
 

Camino Chris

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#83
Whilst my knowledge of ALL travel insurance policies is incomplete, my travel insurance does mention in the exclusions - and breaches of civil laws (as in the case of our Brazilian friends) would render the policy null & void. So I doubt your insurance company would pay up to cover your fine or the cost of you calling in a civil helicopter to evacuate you. Anybody who has had dealings with insurance companies will be aware that they will always try to find a way of not paying up!! Cheers
The insurance I purchased probably has a clause in it like that, too. Now I wonder if I (and others) wouldn't be covered in a rescue operation on the Camino for an accident we could have. Possibly they would consider walking the Camino reckless and risk taking in and of itself!
 

alexwalker

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#84

HedaP

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#86
"
He who doesn't know and doesn't know that he doesn't know, is a fool; Avoid him.
He who doesn't know and knows that he doesn't know, is hopeful; Teach him.
He who knows and knows that he knows, is wise; Follow him.
"

Old Chinese saying.
The first option would have been me. I didn't know and didn't know what I didn't know. I made the mistake of trusting the folk who supposedly did know to let me know what I didn't know. Lesson learned. I value the kind folk in the pilgrim office at SJPdP and would never walk without consulting them. As for anyone else...
 
M

Mark Lee

Guest
#87
Is anyone keeping statistics on the number of people who follow route Nappie (ignoring the closure) in the winter and are successful?

Or is it certain death?
I'm sure many people do and have walked it successfully in bad, winter conditions and it's far from certain death. I would just have to wonder why would you want to? I'm sure the pilgrims of old (medieval, etc) didn't. They knew better. The journey was enough of a risk without hypothermia.
In Afghanistan the Taliban (Al Queda etc) stop almost all offensive actions when winter arrives. The country is quite the rugged wilderness and a lot of high elevations. Heavy snowfall, blocked mountain passes. They know to stay out of the cold. Come the spring thaw, it's back to work. The "fighting season" as they call it.
 

VNwalking

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#88
I would just have to wonder why would you want to? I'm sure the pilgrims of old (medieval, etc) didn't. They knew better. The journey was enough of a risk without hypothermia.
It's that hype. The myth seems pretty intransigent that the Napoleon Route is the 'real' Camino and anything else is not. The idea has the same stickiness as the other ridiculous myth of a 'whole camino.'
Thanks Hollywood.;)
 
M

Mark Lee

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#89
It's that hype. The myth seems pretty intransigent that the Napoleon Route is the 'real' Camino and anything else is not. The idea has the same stickiness as the other ridiculous myth of a 'whole camino.'
Thanks Hollywood.;)
I bet some people watch the movie and want to walk the Napoleon in the snow like the character "Daniel" did (unsuccessfully).
 

alexwalker

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#90
The first option would have been me. I didn't know and didn't know what I didn't know. I made the mistake of trusting the folk who supposedly did know to let me know what I didn't know. Lesson learned. I value the kind folk in the pilgrim office at SJPdP and would never walk without consulting them. As for anyone else...
Not your fault. But lesson learned.

http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Dunning-Kruger_effect

At sea, we have a golden rule: If you are in doubt, act as if there is no doubt. Has saved many lives.
 
W

whariwharangi

Guest
#91
I'm sure many people do and have walked it successfully in bad, winter conditions and it's far from certain death. I would just have to wonder why would you want to? I'm sure the pilgrims of old (medieval, etc) didn't. They knew better. The journey was enough of a risk without hypothermia.
In Afghanistan the Taliban (Al Queda etc) stop almost all offensive actions when winter arrives. The country is quite the rugged wilderness and a lot of high elevations. Heavy snowfall, blocked mountain passes. They know to stay out of the cold. Come the spring thaw, it's back to work. The "fighting season" as they call it.
Why? Mountains covered in snow are beautiful. Cold clean air is a fantastic experience as is getting sunburn on the roof of your mouth (hanging open in awe or from trying to suck in more air) from reflected sunlight.

Risk zone for Hypothermia is 40 - 60 F, well above freezing. Sure you can get it at lower temperatures ... but people who go out in such temperatures usually at least wear a coat. The risk zone is where people usually get into trouble.

Napoleon is not 'high elevation'. Pretty much all of Afghanistan is at a higher elevation. I've not experienced winter in that part of Spain but my impression is that winters are 'mild' at least by my 'standards'. Napoleon doesn't get 'heavy snow' enough to cause 'blocked passes' as per the 'high elevations' of Afghanistan. It doesn't get 'cold' as I understand 'cold' to mean in Afghanistan (and here in Canada). You are comparing oranges to onions ... yeah they are both fruit but there the comparison ends.

Pilgrimage isn't a military campaign. You rely on that which you carry and the fixed services at SJPdP and Roncesvalles instead of military logistics that get stopped by a few snowflakes and deliver shorts in winter and parkas in summer.

I could make a couple of other observations in that the people who are getting into trouble are from places such as Brazil and Korea where there is not much opportunity for exposure to harsh winter conditions. Koreans in particular have a 'reputation' on the big mountains such as Aconcagua and Everest.

Having said all this ... next time I go out into the woods for a 'three hour tour', I'll find myself in trouble ... and justice will be served, as it were.
 
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M

Mark Lee

Guest
#92
Why? Mountains covered in snow are beautiful. Cold clean air is a fantastic experience as is getting sunburn on the roof of your mouth from reflected sunlight.

Risk zone for Hypothermia is 40 - 60 F, well above freezing. Sure you can get it at lower temperatures ... but people who go out in such temperatures usually at least wear a coat. The risk zone is where people usually get into trouble.

Napoleon is not 'high elevation'. Pretty much all of Afghanistan is at a higher elevation. I've not experienced winter in that part of Spain but my impression is that winters are 'mild' at least by my 'standards'. Napoleon doesn't get 'heavy snow' enough to cause 'blocked passes' as per the 'high elevations' of Afghanistan. It doesn't get 'cold' as I understand 'cold' to mean in Afghanistan (and here in Canada). You are comparing oranges to onions ... yeah they are both fruit but there the comparison ends.

Pilgrimage isn't a military campaign. You rely on that which you carry and the fixed services at SJPdP and Roncesvalles instead of military logistics that get stopped by a few snowflakes and deliver shorts in winter and parkas in summer.

I could make a couple of other observations in that the people who are getting into trouble are from places such as Brazil and Korea where there is not much opportunity for exposure to harsh winter conditions. Koreans in particular have a 'reputation' on the big mountains such as Aconcagua and Everest.

Having said all this ... next time I go out into the woods for a 'three hour tour', I'll find myself in trouble ... and justice will be served, as it were.
Having been to both places I realize that the Pyrenees at the Spanish Border by no means resembles in most ways (and elevation) the mountains of Ghazni Province, Afghanistan, but they do both have their risks whilst walking in bad weather. That doesn't change.
Again, my point is why do it when the local government says the route is closed? If you want to go risk your arse, go do it somewhere that if you do get in trouble due to poor judgement, nobody's life is risked going to rescue you. Pick a more remote spot and head off. Maybe the griffon vultures dine, maybe they don't.....
 

HedaP

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#93
Not your fault. But lesson learned.

http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Dunning-Kruger_effect

At sea, we have a golden rule: If you are in doubt, act as if there is no doubt. Has saved many lives.
I'm sure the 'at sea' rule applies at sea but there was no sea within sight and also there was 'no doubt' when we set off either. We had done all our homework, packed accordingly and consulted all available oracles. It was scary but we actually had the resources within our packs to survive a night in adverse conditions at that time of year on the mountain. Certainly, we would not have been comfortable but chances are we would have survived.
The point I was trying to make, which I obviously didn't do clearly, was that there are circumstances where things can go wrong even with the very best of intentions and research. With respect, sometimes it might be better to find out the full story before jumping to conclusions. :)
 
W

whariwharangi

Guest
#94
Having been to both places I realize that the Pyrenees at the Spanish Border by no means resembles in most ways (and elevation) the mountains of Ghazni Province, Afghanistan, but they do both have their risks whilst walking in bad weather. That doesn't change.
Again, my point is why do it when the local government says the route is closed? If you want to go risk your arse, go do it somewhere that if you do get in trouble due to poor judgement, nobody's life is risked going to rescue you. Pick a more remote spot and head off. Maybe the griffon vultures dine, maybe they don't.....
This is a sea change from the theme so far in this thread about 'boldly and stupidly going where no man ought to go'.

I am asking whether the risk is being overstated because of a few unprepared people getting in over their heads.

When do you get fined? Before you get into trouble or after you get rescued?
 
M

Mark Lee

Guest
#95
This is a sea change from the theme so far in this thread about 'boldly and stupidly going where no man ought to go'.

I am asking whether the risk is being overstated because of a few unprepared people getting in over their heads.

When do you get fined? Before you get into trouble or after you get rescued?
I see it as a blanket rule that has to be applied. The local government has to assume the worst. Look at everyone as being at an unnecessary risk. That might hurt a few feelings, but it has to be that way.
Why are there warning stickers on objects such as electric fans, that say not to put your finger in it while its in use? It's there because someone has put their finger in one.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Francis 2012, 2014, 2016. Many more to come in my future God willing !
#96
There will always be people that will ignore signs. What annoys me is that they are putting the rescue services lives at risk because of their own stupidity.
Enough said, go and have a coffee and calm down.
Waka, You read my mind on that one !!!!!!!!
 
W

whariwharangi

Guest
#97
I see it as a blanket rule that has to be applied. The local government has to assume the worst. Look at everyone as being at an unnecessary risk. That might hurt a few feelings, but it has to be that way.
Why are there warning stickers on objects such as electric fans, that say not to put your finger in it while its in use? It's there because someone has put their finger in one.
You're comparing oranges to carrots now. The probability of injury to your finger should you stick it in an electric fan is high.

There is no data to show the risk of injury by walking the route Napoleon in winter is likely to result in tears. All we have is the stories where it went wrong; what data that does exist shows it is a little bit more likely to go wrong in winter than in summer.

Clearly the man from Brazil is a Darwin Award nominee. Its not so clear the broad brush of natural selection applies to everyone, particularly those who live in an area with cold winters.
 

Kanga

Moderator
Staff member
Donating Member
Camino(s) past & future
Francés x 5, Le Puy x 2, Arles, Tours, Norte, Madrid.
#98
No, of course not. I don't think that is the point.
 

nycwalking

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF: (2001, 2002, 2004, 2014). Hospitalera: 2002, Ponferrada. 2004, Rabanal del Camino.
#99
I love these ziz-zag threads. Where no man goith or shouldth, etc. This time I'll blame Paulo Coehlo for peregrinos blunder.
According to his pilgrimage book he spent a few days lost in the Pyrennes with his Dantian guide.
 

VNwalking

Veteran Member
Donating Member
Camino(s) past & future
Francés (2014, 2015)
St Olav/Francés (2016)
Baztanés/Francés (2017)
Ingles (July 2018)
About blanket rules and people who insist on breaking them:
(Back story, please bear with me, it pertains...)
I used to work in and live next to a US National Park. In that context, whenever a single visitor did something inane (say, ignoring warning signs and doing something stupid in a potentially dangerous place), the reflex action on the part of the powers that be was always to make an outright no-go ban, thus denying countless sensible people the chance to walk there with care. But the idiots were costly and sometimes risky to rescue, so we locals grumbled, but mostly put up with the rules.

Then I moved to NZ and was astounded by where I could go and what I could do, without railings, rules, or any otherwise intrusive bureaucratic hand-holding. It felt wonderful, like suddenly being treated as an adult. Even though I tend not to have authority issues, I only realized then how much I had unknowingly (but deeply) resented the blanket rules that had deprived me (as a responsible person) of the ability to make my own decisions about my own safety.

And in that moment I had a much better understanding of the idiots--realizing that some of them may have just said to themselves in response to the signs, "Who the **** do they think THEY are to say I can't go there!? I came all this way and I'll get my money's worth!!"]

So (back to the Camino) from the point of view of the people making the rules, and general safety, the prohibition that has been put in place between November and April on the Napoleon Route makes total sense. Given the pressure of numbers, it's the only thing that can be enforced and managed. But it's unavoidable that such rules will have the potential to bring out the worst in people who don't take well to being told what they can and can't do. There will always be scofflaws--and it's the rules themselves that bring them out of the woodwork.

The other point being cultural and personal differences. Some people (and countries) gravitate to the rule side of the spectrum, others are more laissez-faire. What is the 'right' way? There may not be one--and in any case as far as this is concerned it's a moot point. The rule is there. And there are occasional incidents with scofflaws. Now what?
 

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