Google Maps directing walkers up ‘potentially fatal’ Ben Nevis routes – charity

Hikers hoping to explore Britain’s tallest mountain have been warned not to follow directions on their phone.

The walking route up Ben Nevis suggested by Google Maps is “potentially fatal”, according to one expert.

The John Muir Trust, the conservation charity that manages several estates in Scotland including Ben Nevis, warns that the path to the summit recommended by the hugely popular maps app is “highly dangerous, even for experienced climbers”.

Nathan Berrie, a conservation officer for the trust says that inexperienced walkers can be tempted to attempt the difficult southern approach simply because it’s the path that’s nearest to the car park.

A spokesperson from John Muir Trust told the Daily Star: "Google Maps currently takes visitors to the nearest car park to the summit, which is Steall Falls, but the fact remains that the route up Ben Nevis for walkers starts from the Visitor Centre.

"We've put signage from the Steall Falls car park that directs people wishing to summit Ben Nevis back to the Visitor Centre but this is often overlooked."

The charity claims Google Maps also directs walkers into 'life-threatening terrain' for other mountainous areas, including over the edge of a cliff in An Teallach in the north-west Highlands, MailOnline reports.

Heather Morning, mountain safety adviser for Mountaineering Scotland, added that while it might seem “perfectly logical” to consult Google Maps before setting off on a journey, in the case of Ben Nevis the dotted line showing visitors where to walk goes through “very steep, rocky, and pathless terrain where even in good visibility it would be challenging to find a safe line”.

She aded that in poor weather the same route would be “potentially fatal”.

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A Google spokeswoman says the search giant is planning to fix its directions for Ben Nevis.

“We built Google Maps with safety and reliability in mind, and are working quickly to investigate the routing issue on Ben Nevis," she said.

“In addition to using authoritative data and high definition imagery to update the map, we encourage local organisations to provide geographic information about roads and routes through our Geo Data Upload tool.”

Even if you stay in your car, blindly following guidance from Google Maps can be dangerous.

In December, 18-year-old Sergey Ustinov and Vladislav Istomin set off down Russia’s Kolyma Highway, also known as the Road of Bones.

According to local reports, Ustinov decided to try a shorter route suggested by Google Maps, only to be sent down a long-abandoned road that was buried in deep snow.

Stranded in bitterly cold conditions with temperatures as low as -50ºC, the pair tried to burn one of the car’s tyres to keep warm.

It didn’t go well —rescuers found Ustinov frozen solid in his car and Istomin barely clinging to life, needing to be hospitalised with acute hypothermia.

Google’s travel guidance for the region was rapidly changed after the horrific incident.

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