EMERGENCY crews have blasted two men who risked their lives scaling Castle Rock.
The two men tried to climb the craggy volcanic outcrop in separate incidents at the weekend. Incredibly one of the men is believed to be in his 60s.
Fire chiefs and Historic Scotland, the castle’s caretaker body, branded the pair totally irresponsible, saying not only had they put their lives and the lives of rescuers in jeopardy, they had tied up firefighters on a busy Bank Holiday when they may have desperately been needed elsewhere.
In the first incident a man – in his early 30s and pictured above – became stranded 98ft up the crumbling rock face on the side that faces Princes Street on Saturday afternoon and had to be walked down by firefighters.
A spokeswoman confirmed 24 firefighters from Tollcross and Newcraighall were sent to mount a rescue.
A 31-year-old man – who was later arrested and charged with “breach of the peace” – is due to appear in court this week.
In the second incident, the following afternoon, an elderly man got into “difficulties” on the dangerous landmark but managed to make his own way down. Despite this he was later traced by police and received a stern telling off.
It is understood the amateur photographer was looking for a vantage point.
A Police Scotland spokeswoman said: “We were called out at about 3.45pm on Sunday by someone standing in Castle Terrace car park. He had seen a man who appeared to be struggling to clamber down from the rocks. He thinks the man may have been taking photographs.”
Neither of the men were equipped with climbing gear.
There have been 11 incidents over the past five years involving firefighters rescuing stranded people. Firefighters and Historic Scotland have now issued a warning not to climb the out-of-bounds 260ft volcanic outcrop – which is covered in loose shale and is prone to rock slides.
Roddy Robertson, executive member for Fire Brigades Union (FBU) Scotland, said that stunts like this could “very easily have ended in tragedy”.
He added: “We used to be the fire brigade but now we are the ‘fire and rescue service’ so we do take on all sorts of roles and responsibilities. It is a role we train for but we ask the public not to put themselves into that situation.
“People do tend to do some rather silly things. We are willing to assist but we also wish they would take more care and think before they even consider doing something like this.
“There are plenty of mountains. People don’t need to scale Castle Rock.”
He added: “When people put themselves in hazardous situations they expose other people to unnecessary danger.”
A spokeswoman for Historic Scotland commented that while incidents are rare, fine weather leads to a spike in numbers. She said of the climbers: “They were quickly dealt with by the emergency services and none of these individuals gained access to the Castle. We would join the police and the fire services in strongly urging people not to engage in this type of activity for the safety of themselves and those around them.”
We told last September how firemen staged a rescue at the rock during the night – after a man climbed 130ft and could not get down.