Mountaineering Scotland are looking for a safe route down from the ledge onto which they have jumped. Finding themselves cuddling up to the Scottish Gamekeepers Association on an exposed overhang with a big drop below them, they are looking to clamber to safety.
The bit of a row is about Mountaineering Scotland choosing (because I doubt they were marched there at shotgun point) to ally themselves with the Scottish Gamekeepers Association over whether there is a need for trees in Scotland’s mountain landscapes.
Mountaineering Scotland’s chief executive, David Gibson, is quoted as saying ‘Mountaineering Scotland welcomes the passion shown by our members and others but regrets that our position has been substantially misunderstood and has caused concern to members. The feedback has strengthened our resolve to take a stronger stance on conservation issues, including hill tracks and land management practices. Our collaboration with the Scottish Gamekeepers Association was on a single issue and does not indicate agreement with them on any other policy or issue.‘.
It’s a strange dance where you cling to and embrace one other dancer and then distance yourself from them as much as possible – it’s not how I would do a strip-the-willow (which must be an appropriate dance under the circumstances).
Chris Townsend (whom I have never met, as far as I can recall, but for whom I have a lot of time from what I’ve seen of his views) said: ‘Having read the clarification, I have to say as a member and an ex-president of the MCofS I think it’s pathetic, disappointing and naive.’.
Mountaineering Scotland can have whatever views they like (although it appears they are seriously out of touch with at least some of their members on this issue). And they can team up with whichever other organisations they like who hold similar views – that makes a lot of sense. But they must realise that embarking on contentious issue with a contentious partner is bound to be noticed by their core supporters and core partners.
Looking at the views of Mountaineering Scotland, they seem pretty much in line with my own for the mostpart. I particularly liked ‘In some places, insensitive development related to industrial-scale energy generation, lucrative field sports and unsustainable tourism is threatening the very wildness, panoramas and beauty that we all cherish.’.