Following Google Maps Up This Mountain Could Kill You

Mountaineers in Scotland are trying to get the problem fixed
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 16, 2021 3:01 AM CDT
Following Google Maps Up This Mountain Could Kill You
Ben Nevis.   (Getty Images / Maas-ter)

Want to get to the top of Ben Nevis, the UK's highest mountain? Don't follow Google Maps' directions. Mountaineers in Scotland, where the mountain is located, say the service directs people to drive to the parking lot that is nearest the summit, then walk from there—but the walking directions could be fatal for the inexperienced. "Even the most experienced mountaineer would have difficulty following this route," a safety adviser for Mountaineering Scotland explains to the Guardian. "The line goes through very steep, rocky, and pathless terrain where even in good visibility it would be challenging to find a safe line. Add in low cloud and rain and the suggested Google line is potentially fatal."

Other experts echo that warning, and they say the same problem exists for other mountains in Scotland; the walking route offered for An Teallach leads people over a cliff. Mountaineering Scotland and the John Muir Trust say they both tried to reach Google, to no avail, but apparently the Guardian's article got the tech giant's attention. "We built Google Maps with safety and reliability in mind, and are working quickly to investigate the routing issue on Ben Nevis," a rep says. "In addition to using authoritative data and high definition imagery to update the map, we encourage local organizations to provide geographic information about roads and routes through our Geo Data Upload tool." (More Google Maps stories.)

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