Illegal guiding be it of the ski or mountain variety is getting a lot of attention from the authorities these days, although often only when things go wrong and the clients find there is no insurance. A Spanish “guide” is being prosecuted by the authorities in Jaca after an accident on the Pico Balaitous (3144 meters) in the Pyrenees.
The guide was offering his services on a website via a programme dubbed “A 3000 meter summit in a day”. The site offered a range of 3000 meter mountains in the Pyrenees and claimed the guides were to UIAGM standard. A 30 year old woman hired the guide paying a fee of 180 Euros which was to cover insurance and gear.
An investigation was started following an accident in July. The civil guard, a rescue helicopter and doctor were alerted when a climber heard cries for help coming from the summit. The couple had been descending roped from the summit when they slid 60 meters on a snowfield. The guide was seriously injured by the accident, the client who was also injured, covered the guide with a thermal blanket, then managed to climb to a break in the cliffs and call for help. Their mobile phone had been lost in the fall. The rescue was complicated by a snowstorm.
The investigation discovered that the guide was qualified to the Spanish equivalent of Mountain Leader (Técnico deportivo en media montaña). According to the Spanish Guide's Association Mountain Leaders can accompany and train clients in mid mountain terrain and on snow in nordic terrain (snow shoe tours etc).
The Civil Guard has said that the guide “lacked the training and skills and had not taken all the necessary security measures at his disposal to foresee and minimize the risk of an accident and these were the reasons behind the accident”. He is being charged with causing injury, lacking the appropriate qualifications, false advertising and fraud for not providing insurance for his client.