updated 1/22/2004 10:44:52 AM ET 2004-01-22T15:44:52

Britain’s biggest-selling hiking magazine apologized Wednesday after its latest issue contained a route that would lead climbers off the edge of a cliff on Britain’s tallest peak.

The February edition of Trail magazine gives advice on making a safe descent for hikers caught in bad weather on Ben Nevis in Scotland.

But the magazine’s directions would instead lead readers off the north face of the 4,406-foot mountain, which is notorious for its changeable weather and has claimed the lives of several climbers.

Guy Procter, the editor of Trail, acknowledged the magazine had inadvertently deleted the first of two crucial bearings needed to get off the summit. He said that happened during the editing process.

“We print up to 200 of these routes a year, and this is the first time we’ve got it wrong,” said Procter.

The Mountaineering Council of Scotland issued an alert on its Web site about the mistake.

“Getting off Ben Nevis is probably one of the most infamous navigational tasks in the British Isles,” said council spokesman Roger Wild. Describing the mistake in the magazine, he said, “Anyone following that route in poor visibility and with snow cover could easily have walked straight off the edge.”

Procter said he was confident that the experienced hikers who make up most of Trail’s 36,000 circulation would not be endangered by the error.

“No Trail reader would countenance going out on any mountain without a map, and the route is given a high technical rating, serving further to deter the novice,” he said. “This gives me reason to be optimistic that our omission will swiftly be picked up by our readers.”

Trail was criticized by mountain rescue teams last year for claiming three popular hiking routes were snow-free in winter.

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