Climbers in the UK Avoid Google Maps When Picking Routes | The Adventure Blog

Climbing Ben Nevis

Google’s errant map directions for hikers took center stage recently after it was revealed that the site’s instructions for reaching the summit of Ben Nevis were incredibly unsafe. At 4413 feet (1345 meters) in height, the peak is the tallest not only in Scotland, but the entire UK, making it a top draw for amateur and veteran mountaineers alike. In fact, it is estimated that more than 100,000 people reach the summit each year, most taking the so-called “Pony Track” to the top.

A Dangerous Path

Google’s directions for climbing Ben Nevis recently came to light thanks to a bit of investigation by the John Muir Trust. After several groups of climbers ran into trouble using the provided instructions for the trek, members of the trust conducted the map search themselves. What the found was a route that is described as “highly dangerous, even for experienced climbers.”

A Glitch in the System

Scotland’s most well-known and iconic peak isn’t the only one that is subject to poor route finding by Google Maps. Searching for paths up other mountains in the the region reveal similar issues when it comes to suggesting routes. In the case of An Teallach for example, the suggested path actually goes over the edge of a cliff.

Staying Safe

Hikers looking to stay safe on their outdoor journeys should probably avoid using Google Maps for their beta. While the system is fantastic for navigating to and from the locations that we want to explore, it probably isn’t the best option for actual route finding. Instead, look for local guidebooks or search online resources, where you’ll likely find more detailed instructions and information.

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The Adventure Blog

The Adventure Blog

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The Adventure Blog is a collection of personal stories, news, and gear reviews about a range of topics related to adventure travel, outdoor sports, and ecology.