Tourist killed in Preikestolen fall

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A man from Spain who had hiked up to western Norway’s famed high mountain plateau known as “Preikestolen” (The Pulpit Rock) disappeared off its steep side while taking photos Tuesday afternoon. His body was found Wednesday, after he’d plunged to his death.

Preikestolen (The Pulpit Rock) is a landmark in western Norway, drawing around 200,000 visitors a year. One of them fell to his death on Tuesday. PHOTO: Wikipedia Commons

Preikestolen (The Pulpit Rock) is a landmark in western Norway, drawing around 200,000 visitors a year. One of them fell to his death on Tuesday. PHOTO: Wikipedia Commons

“We’ve always feared that this could happen,” Kjell Helle Olsen, a former leader of the local hiking association, Stavanger Turistforening, told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK). “It’s tragic, but this is something we figured could happen.”

As many as 200,000 people visit the natural attraction in western Norway every year. As far as Olsen knows, though, the Spanish tourist was the first to fall to his death from the flat granite plateau that rises like a pulpit 600 meters above the Lyse Fjord.

Debate over safety has flown for years, but local officials have claimed that those visiting Preikestolen do so at their own risk. The local hiking association has claimed it can only offer information and advice about the hazards of getting to close to the edge. Tourism association Visit Norway encourages visitors to “take the hike and enjoy the spectacular views.” (external link)

Things went very wrong on Tuesday, reported local newspaper Strandbuen, when the Spanish tourist who joined a group he’d met in Stavanger was about to leave the mountaintop. Companions said he was only going to take a few more photos when they suddenly heard a scream. The man had disappeared over the edge.

Police were called and are investigating the death as an accident. The man’s body was recovered on Wednesday by mountain climbers and a Sea King helicopter, and taken to Stavanger University Hospital for an autopsy. Local sheriff Odd-Bjørn Næss also said it was the first time anyone had accidentally fallen over the edge of Preikestolen.

Olsen, of the hiking association, told NRK that people need to pay more attention to safety when they arrive at the unique mountaintop after the hike up, but can easily get distracted. “There’s a lot happening all at once,” he said. “Folks want to take photos, some start making food, they’re marveling at the scenery. It’s important to pay attention, though. If you don’t, accidents can happen.”

Næss told NRK that none of the members of the hiking group actually saw what happened, “but they heard a scream.” All were being questioned as part of the police investigation.

Olsen said there’s been recurring debate over whether a fence should be built around Preikestolen, but the tourist association believes it would give a false sense of security. He also worries that too many people take too many chances, and may be tempted to sit on any fence or even try to balance on it. “So we fear that a fence could only contribute to more accidents,” Olsen said.

newsinenglish.no/Nina Berglund

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  • Tom Just Olsen

    A scary place. When I was working in Stavanger I made the hike several times. Once with a colleague together with his two boys at 8 and 10 years old. The children walked in front of us. When we arrived at the cliff one of the boys was sitting with his feet dangling over the cliff’s edge. His father and I crawled over the cliff surface while shouting to the boy to retract from the dangerous edge. The boy was totally without fear from heights. – A scary place…

  • Robert Neve

    There’s always some idiots who don’t use common sense. You can’t proof such natural places against them. It’s a tragedy that someone died but I do hope they don’t overreact with fences etc.

    • John Palmer

      I agree. People need to be responsible for themselves and their children. We have fences at many natural sites in the US because we are a litigious society. My vote is with you: No fence. And this time I am replying to the right message. :-)

  • http://www.aftenbladet.no/wp ANTHONY HAWKE

    The mountain is not the problem. The idiot tourists are. I’ve been up there 5 times and seen how tourists hang over the edge.

  • Robert Neve

    Or don’t go near the edge if it’s heavy rain and wind! What you will have is people climbing on the fence to get height or to show how brave they are. So then the fence will get bigger until you are looking at the view through a chain link mesh ruining the whole point.

  • John Palmer

    Do you really need a sign saying that falling from a great height is dangerous? Crater Lake, Oregon has such signs and people still go too close to the edge and fall. Darwin at work. Of course, if a danger is hidden, such as lightning on Half Dome, Yosemite, then signage is appropriate.

  • MatforsMats

    If it had been back in the US, a whole heap of people had been sued by a whole heap of people for a whole heap of reasons such as;

    “Failure to affirmatively inform of potential danger when leaning over a cliff”

    “Inadequate written information regarding distance from cliff to sea level”

    “Gross negligence of whatever”

    • Kanon25

      If you have been to national parks in the US, you’ll find that there are very strong warnings before you begin any path that offers such danger. They would not allow children under a certain age and others older will be under strict warning of your own risk.

      And while they would not necessarily provide a guard rail to prevent you from falling down, on the ascent there would a metal chain anchored somewhere for you to hand on to, for example:
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Chains_for_the_last_5,790_feet_(1,760_m)_of_Angel%27s_Landing.jpg
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Angels_Landing

      WHen you get to the top, again more fairly strong warnings. And you wont see kids sitting on the edge either. Not allowed. And they tend to limit the amount of people who are at the peak at any one time.

      Just sensible precautions. But in Norway as with many things, they are too lax to take any half-decent responsibility when providing services. It’s the Ryanair mentality that rules this country.

      • FatBastage72

        “…But in Norway as with many things, they are too lax to take any half-decent responsibility when providing services. It’s the Ryanair mentality that rules this country.”
        Or put another way, in Norway the government don’t treat you like an idiot child and assume you have survived into adulthood because you’re able to assume responsibilty for your own actions and welfare?

        • Kanon25

          No you taken some other issue and intentionally mischaracterised what I said. Which is fairly low. If you dont have a point, that is no excuse for lying.

          Again there is nothing wrong with providing basic safety equipment in a dangerous place that 99% of vistors have never been to before and are therefore at a disadvantage in gauging the danger.

          And yes, Norway is one long stream of abdication of duty, from the private sector to the public, the theme is fairly consistent.

          That is what I said. If you have your own points, feel free to try and make them instead of lying about what I said and pretending you paraphrased it.

  • Konika Chawla

    Sorry guys, but if you have not noticed there are support holders in buses, seat belts in planes and cars, traffic lights on roads and even holders for the stair cases for the simple fact that accidents happen and simple safety measure are always good to have. I was saved by one such railing when I lost my balance near the ski jump area. I am glad it was there, it was not that I was leaning over it to take pictures etc.

  • Andromeda9

    You are joking.. right?

    You can’t put signs all over nature. There are several hundred thousand places in Norway you can fall to your death.Dangerous waves at sea, with cold temperature, dangerous glaciers, dangerous waterfalls and wild rivers. Some wants to look av polar bears in Svalbard too, and think they act like black bears, or a docile zoo animal.
    People have to take care of themselves.
    Tragic stuff happens, but luckily not to often.
    But tourists should maybe get a small warning flyer when they enter the country.. like when I was renting a car in Miami, and parts of the rentalcar map was marked red. In that area it was not recomended to drive, and the insurance was invalid in that area.

    As to cigaretts and warnings.. there is no limit to stupidity, and many don’t get the message. And if they don’t care – they will feel it when they pay for the cigarettes.
    The more frequent hospital visits cost the Norwegian state billions a year. A regular (no surgery) day at a hospital kost about 4000-6000 Nkr. Think of the economy behind the warning and price.
    First the monther gets 12 month of paid maternity leave, then the father gets 3 month of paid paternity leave, and often the mother stays home for an extra year or two with a state income. Then the child gets subsidized kindergarten, free school for at least 12-13 years and 3-5 years more if they graduate from the university. Then the person is in his twenties. He works and pays taxes until he is 40 an ill. He can not work more – but still does not kick the bucket before he is 65-70 years old maybe.. under care most of the time. Costing millions. wellfare, medical bills and medical care.
    He does not have the time to pay back the cost the state has invested in him. Ergo the warnings and the high price and age limit.

  • Levin von Küsel

    “WARNING: getting too close to the edge is dangerous!” If people really need signs like that, they really are idiots. Anthony is absolutely right!

  • Tanya Poleshuk Sharkey

    I agree with the false sense of security. Look at the numbers of people who die every year at the Grand Canyon and there are warnings and fences everywhere. Look how long Preikestolen has gone without incident. I think fences will be false and take away from the experience. Just be smart and aware when visiting. We were there for the first time summer 2013, 100′s of people, families… I was amazed when I learned noone had fallen yet, knowing the numbers at GC.

  • Ma Ed

    “merican should stay away from Norway then,

  • inquisitor

    WARNING!!! GRAVITY!!!