Red Cross fears record number of rescue operations in the mountains
The Red Cross expects a busy summer in the mountains. At Trolltunga, there have been three times as many rescue operations so far this year as in the same period last year.
The mountain formation Trolltunga in Hordaland becomes an increasingly popular tourist attraction. But more tourists also lead to more rescue operations. So far this season, 15 actions have been registered from the Help Corps. This is a tripling from the same time in 2016.
The number of visitors is expected to continue to rise this year as well. By 2016, Trolltunga had 100,000 visitors, while it is expected between 100,000 and 160,000 tourists this year.
General Secretary of the Red Cross, Bjørn G. Apeland, is concerned.
– We are already a whole month in front with the of number of rescue operations at Trolltunga, and have not yet seen the start of the high season or the demanding autumn season, he says.
Challenges in several places
The number of excursions to Kjerag has also increased. In 2016, 70,000 went to the well-known mountain plateau. This year around 100,000 visitors are expected. Earlier this year, Kjerag and the Preikestolen received a grant of NOK two million in the state budget that will come in handy in the rescue work.
– Last year we had seven or eight missions. With more traffic, it is natural that more missions will follow, says Sheriff in Sirdal, Egil Netland, to NRK.
The Besseggen in Vågå in Oppland is also a popular mountain ridge to climb. Here the tourism industry has employed a “janitor” that will patrol the mountain.
– I’m going to walk Besseggen, chat with people, help those who need it, pick up some trash and maybe prevent a few rescue operations, says the newly-appointed janitor, Ørjan Venås, to NRK.
He will make the trip once every week.
– The hope was to be able make the trip every day, but we do not currently have the funding, so therefore we try this, says Venås.
He tells that there are few injuries, but several people underestimate the trip and are in bad shape or have insufficient clothes and food with them.
The authorities must take more responsibility
Bjørn G. Apeland in the Red Cross believes that the authorities and tourism industry now have to take greater responsibility for the safety of the tourists. He asks for already announced measures like mountain guards, and also calls for investments in paths and roads, as well as emergency arches and signs.
– More binding measures must be in place to ensure that anyone who needs help gets it. At worst, lives can be lost, says Apeland.
© NTB Scanpix / Red Cross / Norway Today