Rescued trekkers and climbers are to be charged the cost of recovery if they are found to have acted in what is deemed to be an unreasonable or negligent way, say the spanish government. This is to be implemented from the beginning of October 2009.

According to the government………” they advise you to check the weather, the guidebooks and maps. Leave route details, use appropriate equipment and alert 112 in case of difficulties. You must also be hydrated, and if you are cold, do not stop walking”!

Great advice that then?

A firefighter or rescuer is to be charged at €30 an hour and helicopter rescue at €2270 an hour. According to the rescue services, between 1 January and 15 September they made 365 rescues in the mountains.

Ok. All well and good, but what is to be deemed “unreasonable” or “negligent” is not clear. This is where the grey area exists. To my knowledge every mountain “accident” or “incident” normally involves some form of human error. According to the report the rescued must pay the cost of the rescue from places described as “dangerous”! How do we therefore define “dangerous” ground?

Sure, there are people out there who climb Mulhacen without suitable clothing or even maps and have not consulted weather forecasts. There are others who are suitably equipped, prepared and trained, who are just unlucky because of a slight misjudgment of conditions. Where does the charge start and end?

This sounds like the beginning of an alpine like charging system? Will you have to provide an insurance cover note before the helicopter will pick you up? Is this just another form of tax collection?

Much more clarification is required. Until then bump up your rescue insurances!