At last a short wander in the Cairngorms Sron a’Cha-no – then a chat on Mountain Skills in Aviemore – full house.

Due to many reasons I have not been on the hill much recently the main one was

tragedy of my sisters nephews ( one still missing on the hill) was a hard time for all. I had promised to speak at the Mountain Skills talk in Aviemore last night for the Munro Society and Mountaineering Scotland at 8 pm in the Cairngorm Hotel. I had a doctor’s appointment sadly age brings it problems so I did not get away till 1200 from Burghead. Diane a friend from my village is getting back on the hills in winter so she fancied a short walk and would come to the chat later that night. The journey down was fine with the rivers big in the massive thaw that was going on and it looked like a lot of the snow had gone.  We arrived at the Squirrel Cafe at Glenmore ( no squirrels) for a tea and then had look what to do, Sadly the cloud was down so we headed up to the lower car park at Cairngorms and met SARDA from England and Wales who were training in the Cairngorms. I have a few pals and we met quickly and they said they were coming to my chat that night.

Once we left the car park we were on our own there was no snow just mud and some ice till we wandered up to the ridge. We could see our friends training their dogs on the other side of the coire, there was a Glenmore Lodge wagon in the car park and a few skiing the back Corrie but it was so quite. This is a place I love and when I was ill for a few years it would take me several hours to get up here onto this top and the views and peace were special. I felt alive again and it gave me so much strength to get well. Better than any drugs.

Route –

It is easy walking and what was a  great path from the Car Park up the ridge at the beginning is a muddy mess due to the interest in so many in the cliff above Starth Nethy where new winter climbs are being climbed. It is a great way onto the plateau from here a wanted to contour round by Coire Loagh Mor and have a look at this neglected Corrie. In winter it holds a lot of snow and avalanches every winter and the damage to the ground in summer after the snow is gone.

It is amazing and impressive what the weight of snow and the erosion can do and it is a place to take care in winter. Water runs of from the plateau most of the year and this does not help with the erosion but it is a lovely place to be and how many miss it? Today the weather came in so we missed the views but could see a group doing winter skills in the Coire.

From the Coire rim we were in an arctic environment and the compass came out, the wind picked up and the views went. The plateau is a wild place and this is the start of it and we navigated to the summit at 1028 metres, There were no views for Dianne   and we should have been looking down on the wild Strath Nethy and a wander along to Sron a Cha – no at over 1000 metres it is an impressive place. The cliffs now sport many winter climbs and great views of the Strath the Cairngorm rock and small cliffs with Jenga shaped blocks, pinnacles and ridges always make me smile. Not today the snow started and we headed off with a few bearings making us work but good fun. In 30 minutes we were soon out of the cloud and headed back. A quick change then dinner in the Cairngorm Hotel for the talk.

Photo Anne Butler Munro Society

I met Heather from Mountaineering Scotland and Anne from the Munro Society and it was then set up for the talk at 2000. It was great to see so many folk over 100 it was packed and great to see such a group of all ages. I thought it would be a hard night but it was special and thanks to all. All the usual subjects of navigation, telling folk your route for the day, winter skills, avalanche info, practice all the skills  and so many more but also enjoying the mountains safely. The crowd was great and it was for me an enjoyable night. It was then home in a cold night with the moon out and the stars shinning,

Munro Society

The Munro Society

Founded in 2002 membership is open to mountaineers who have climbed all the Munro summits in Scotland as listed in Munro’s Tables – currently there are 282 mountains of Munro status with a height of 3000ft or more above sea level. Many such Munroists, who are often said to have ‘compleated’*, register their detail with the Clerk of the List. This official list is maintained by the Clerk on behalf of the Scottish Mountaineering Club and now exceeds 5,000 names. However, a substantial percentage of ‘compleaters’ do not register their details for a variety of reasons.

The Munro Society welcomes all Munroists who have compleated whether or not they have registered with the Clerk of the List.

The Society exists to bring together the wealth of mountain experience that members have accumulated and thus provide a forum in which to share interests and concerns as well as creating opportunities for convivial gatherings.The objectives of the Munro Society are:

  • To secure access to and conservation of Munros as areas of wild mountain land.
  • To foster social and cultural exchange between members.
  • To establish and maintain an archive of material relative to the Munros and Munroists.

* The term ‘compleation’ has been used by various Clerks of the List for many years. Compleat is an archaic spelling of complete.

For more information see

comment from last night Bill Rose – Killin MRT

Leaving route details so important. Change your mind when you arrive. Leave a note in your car. Never totally rely on technology. It will let you down when you most need it due to poor signal or flat battery.

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Winter Skill talk in Aviemore tonight! Hopefully a wander before I go.

I am away to Aviemore tonight for my Winter Talk in the Cairngorm Hotel at 8 pm, I hope to get a wander before the chat and leave home late morning. It hopefully will be a good evening and is sponsored by the Munro Society and Mountaineering Scotland. It is great that both try and help with Mountain Safety Education of those who love the wild places in winter.

As always it will be very similar subjects covered as few things change. This has been a big winter and despite the thaw that is on now the Cornices in places still need care! Navigation is a key at all times and the thought that this is not hill walking but winter mountaineering.

A will also speak about the cornices as always the have already caused problems and the key to safe travel is good navigation. This is never easy and despite modern technology you still need the map and compass and the knowledge of their uses. There wiil be a few tales some happy and some sad but hopefully the word may get out and one of the most important things is to tell folk where your going and a Munro in summer is not the same in winter.


It is also about enjoying loving the mountains looking after them and yourself to enjoy the beauty and inspiration of a winter mountain and to bring the youth into this wonderful arena.  To watch the snow devils move along a plateau is a wonderful sight that always makes me think how luck we are to live here and enjoy this place. It is always worth remembering that the mountains will always be there so there, the secret is to be there with them.

I did a series of talks last year for Mountain Aid I got some great feedback

– ” but more importantly you gave me pause to consider my own safety on the hills – I promise to be better prepared from now on and to think more about what could happen. My wife squeezed my hand when you told us about the child shouting for her Daddy at Glencoe – am glad she was with me – it was an important moment and reinforced my responsibility to make sure I come home from every trip and tell her where I am going”


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2018 – This is a Big Winter and year of the Big Snows and even bigger Cornices. Snow shoes some thoughts.

This is a big winter the first for many years and so many are loving the hills and enjoying the blue skies and big snows. Every weekend thousands are out having fun and it is wonderful seeing all my pals photos enjoying these conditions. The only problem this is a  full on winter, the first for many years. When the wind picks up and the snows change so does the visibility especially on the high tops. As always safe travel in the mountains in these conditions it is important to be able to navigate it is the key skill. It is hard enough whilst walking in a white – out  but add skis and you have to be very skillful to travel in these conditions. Add in the avalanche risk as you move over varying ground and it can be an extremely hard day full on concentration is needed. Wild off piste skiing is now so popular and so many are out on the Munro’s and high hills loving the fast movement on pristine snows.

In the past you saw few who did this and most were extremely competent mountaineers nowadays there are so many out enjoying these wild pristine slopes. Just be aware that there is danger out there and you need all the skills to cope with the wild Scottish weather to ensure you enjoy your day.   It is so worth going on a course or getting some advice through the many organisations that enjoy off piste skiing and doing and Avalanche Course. If you have a problem out in the back of beyond it will be you and your mates that you will rely on in an avalanche or accident. Would you know what do to or what gear to carry? Get on an Avalanche awareness course and no matter how experienced you are it will be enlightening. Do you carry a shovel , probe, avalanche transceiver? have you read the weather and avalanche forecasts? Does anyone know where you are going?  You can still have fun but at least you have a chance if it all goes wrong and the Mountain Rescue Teams and SARDA have a chance of finding you?

Comments  are as always very welcome.

Photo Al Barnard


From Lochaber MRT – “The Team has been out again today on major rescue on Aonach Beag. Twenty two team members have been out since midday rescuing a skier who had fallen through cornice while navigating in across summit. Skier has fallen approximately 200 metres and has suffered multiple injuries. Conditions are very challenging with strong winds and limited visibility. Rescue 951 has been assisting but limited by low cloud levels. They lifted team members to about 1.5 km from top of mountain. Team carried technical rescue equipment to location of incident. Two team members and a ski patroller from Nevis Range have been lowered to casualty and carried out first aid. The team have now winched the casualty back to summit and at moment are making their way back to the top Gondola station. Hopefully will have casualty down at Belford Hospital by mid night.

Four team members tried to reach casualty from the Sanctuary and climbed about 1000 metres up the NE face of Aonoch Beag and reached about 200 metres below the location of casualty. Deep unstable snow and potential of avalanche prevented further progress so they retreated back down to be picked up by 951 after long walk in deep snow. Snow shoes purchased by team the week were worth their weight in gold as without them progress would have been impossible.

Todays rescue has been an exceptional effort by the Team. This has been one of the most difficult and technical rescues we have had to carry out in last 12 months.

Earlier two team members went up Beinn a Chaorinn searching for the missing local climber. Unfortunately snow cover still too deep and unstable so no luck in search.

Cornice Beinn a’ Chaorainn

Today’s call out is the 16th in past month which has involved around 3000 hours of volunteer rescuers time in some of the most challenging winter conditions experienced in a very long time. Conditions have meant rescuers, from many mountain rescue teams in Scotland, having to go out in very difficult and dangerous conditions. Well done all teams who have been out on mountain rescues as well as resilience work helping out stranded motorist and workers who have required assistance due to the exceptional winter conditions this year.”

Finally please tell folk your plans where your going and what time you will be home, there are many who sit and worry at home whilst we enjoy these wild places. we can be so selfish at times?

2005 – snow shoes, We have had snow shoes since the Cairngorm disaster in 1971 and though only used in big winters they are an incredible piece of gear.

We have also being doing a number of searches with drones which has the benefit of [providing images from areas where is too dangerous or difficult to put in rescuers. The footage is taken back to base and scrutinised for any sign of missing climbers. On one of the earlier searches with drones images of two climber crag fast on Tower Ridge and we were able to talk in R951 to pick them off the route. New era in mountain rescue evolving and we are pleased to be at the forefront of this.” Great effort well done all.

Stay safe Lochaber and what a superb job you are all doing.

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In praise of winter mountaineering ? A letter worth a read?

This week has been a great one and at times a hard one my Grand-kids were up and at 4 and 7 full of life! How I miss them when they go home to the Deep South!  I am still coming to terms with the loss of my sisters Nephews on the hills near Achnasheallach  sadly Neil still missing hurts and to near to home for me and my family. It was incredible to see the effort by all the Agencies and the time they spent and will spend looking for Neil and the other two missing mountaineers on Ben Nevis and Beinn a’ Chaorrain near Roybridge. My thoughts as always are with the families and the Agencies and teams involved.


My mate Lyle was up and we had a great few days! I value his and many other friendship so dearly. We had some great fun and enjoyment with the highlight being a Ceildh at Elgin organised by the Moray Mountaineering Club.

My pals letter in the National

“As one who has spent many years hillwalking and receiving enormous enjoyment from my expeditions into the hills, I really must take exception to Barry from Blantyre’s judgmental comments (Letters, February 13).

Like most hillwalkers I relish the challenge of the hills and pitting myself against nature by pushing my body to its limits. We are no different in this than others who get off their backsides and seek adventure in their chosen activities. I wonder if he takes a similar jaundiced view towards sky-divers, scuba-divers and all extreme sportsmen and woman in general. Considering the many thousands who go hill-walking, the number of rescue incidents is really quite small, due in some part to a high degree of common sense and experience within the hill-walking community and a readiness to assist fellow walkers in trouble.

As for his assertion that people are obliged to put their lives at risk in trying to rescue climbers, nothing could be further from the truth. The Mountain Rescue teams are composed of volunteers, many being keen hill-walkers and climbers themselves. They do the job willingly because they know that “there but for the grace of God” it could one day be them. Very many hill-walkers are aware of this and would themselves love to be in a mountain rescue team. There is no shortage of volunteers from those who know the hills in all their moods.

I hope the day never comes when restrictions are applied to hill-walkers or any others who pursue activities out of the ordinary. That would be an unacceptable imposition on the human spirit and this is certainly one hill-walker (semi-retired) who would ignore it. It would be truly appalling and tragic if hill-walking was vilified to such an extent that there were calls for medical treatment to be denied or charged for, as we sometimes see for obesity, alcoholism and those suffering some form of addiction.”

For those who are up in the Aviemore on Tuesday the last of the Winter Talks on Mountain Safety the next chat is on Tuesday the 20 th February at 2000 at the Cairngorm Hotel.

It will be great out on the hills but I have visitors so will be bust but I will soon be out to enjoy the Winter experience.

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Navigation a book well worth a read – busy Cairngorm MRT over the last few days.

The Cairngorm Mountain Rescue Team have been very busy with a spate of incidents and some wild weather as always they pulled out the stops and saved a few lives.

Loch Avon

From the Cairngorm Facebook page

“Snow keeps falling and drifts are getting deeper and deeper.
CMRT had three incidents to deal with today.
First a false alarm for a missing walker.
This was followed by a major callout of the whole team to assist a party of three windfarm construction workers stranded for 40 hrs high in the Monaliath. Heavy snow had left drifts as deep as 7m in the area. Coastguard Rescue Helicopter 951 was initially unable to reach the party. CMRT made a 130 mile round trip and deployed a ski team in support of the helicopter, whilst the CanAm was arriving and RAF MRT were on the way. Incredibly Rescue 951 managed to snatch the party to safety in the briefest of weather windows. A great job.
Unfortunately CMRT had already been re-tasked to assist two climbers who had become lost in the cairngorms after they finished their climb. In the end were found safe and well.
Getting a wee bit busy….” The masters of understatement.

Yesterday my mate drove up from the Borders Lyle Brotherton a good friend since I met him in the USA in 2008. He had a bit of a wild drive but was on great form. Arriving in the middle of the afternoon we managed a short wander round the coast before darkness. Lyle was impressed at the great weather we have in the Moray Firth compared with a few miles inland. He loves it here and we caught up with life etc. We went out for a meal in Findhorn and had some lovely food Lyle had the fresh mussels a speciality on a Thursday and me the usual chicken tikka and salad. We met Lenny who is a fan of Lyle’s book the Ultimate Navigation manual and he had also done a course with Heather Morning and Di Gilbert and was updating his navigation skills. We had a great chat. Lyle’s  book is a great insight into navigation and recommended as another tool in staying safe on the hills.

All the techniques you need to become an expert navigator.The Ultimate Navigation Manual is a unique guide to finding your way on land – from the basic principles right up to the advanced technology of GPS. Designed to allow even the absolute beginner to find their way anywhere in the world, it also develops a unique confidence in navigation – with or without technical aids.With a preface by Sir Ranulph Fiennes, contents will also include:Environmental clues – Using the natural environment to navigate>

Maps – An introduction to the different types of maps The Compass and North – How compasses work, how to use them and how to choose the right one.Map and Compass Navigation – twenty-five easy-to-learn skills are described,Relocation Procedures – What to do when lost, dealing with well-known relocation procedures and some ground-breaking new ones Stellar Navigation – Simple methods that are easy to learn GNSS (GPS) Navigation – Why Global Satellite Navigation Systems are the most significant advance in navigation since the invention of the magnetic compass; details all of the systems now available, including the American GPS Specialist environments and equipment – Which techniques are best, where and how to use them in environments such as the Arctic, coastal areas, desert regions, jungles or forests, mountains and urban areas>Written by one of the world’s leading search and rescue consultants designed to emphasise navigation problems – this is the ultimate guide to not losing your way


I am doing a chat on the Tues 20 the February at 2200 at the Cairngorm Hotel in Aviemore if your in the area it may be worth booking in. The chat is free and organised by the Munro Society and Mountaineering Scotland.

The weather will start getting better and many will be out hopefully enjoying the mountains, have fun and remember that it is not hill walking but winter mountaineering.

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Thinking of Lochaber MRT on their search on Beinn a Chaorainn. (Roybridge) Advice for Hillwalkers warned about magnets in clothing

Lochaber MRT photo.

Lochaber MRT photo

From Lochaber MRT – “The team have been out again today looking for a missing person who fell through a cornice yesterday afternoon on Beinn a Chaorainn. Once again very challenging conditions are limiting efforts to perform a thorough search of the fall zone. With further large amounts of snow forecast over the next few days these areas will just be too risky to search. We will resume as soon as the weather allows us to access the coire.”

I have sadly been on many call -outs in the past on this hill and was involved in many searches it is a tricky mountain in bad weather.

Photo  and words Lochaber MRT.

What a great job Lochaber Mountain Rescue are doing and the other teams I hope once the conditions settle they find the missing walker and the one on Ben Nevis.

23/1/94 Beinn a Choarrain This Munro summit ridge is well corniced – so take care in snow and mist IT CAN BE TRICKY NAVIGATION , there have been many accidents here in the past.

Cornice Beinn a’ Chaorainn

On one incident in 1994 we searched for months for a missing walker who had walked over the edge on January 1994 he was located in August – 6 months later under several feet of ice, It was a sad time for the family and the length of time their loved one was missing for made things even worse. I took the young son Neil who was with his Dad when he went over the cornice a day later after hed got down to raise the alarm, Neil showed me the exact spot where he last saw his Dad and it was an incredible effort by the young 18 year old. I searched along with Lochaber MRT for many months looking for his Dad it was a hard, sad time.   This Corrie can be very tricky ground to search in this wild coire is and always was threatened by huge cornices as we searched. This hill has a big history for me and is in no way a simple boring hill and at over a 1000 metres is big mountain.

2017 Dec – I met that young man Neil  at a lecture for Mountain Aid that I did in Cuoar this year, he introduced himself to me he is now a member of Ochils MRT. It was a magic night to meet him after the sadness of those dark days in 1994 but Lochaber MRT found his Dad. in the end thanks to Hamish MacInnes who brought in ground radar in Sep 94 and there was still a huge amount of snow. It was wonderful meeting Neil and one of the most moving nights of my life. That awful day he did his best and helped us so much and that day we went out to where his father fell was a hard day yet this young man helped so much. I hope we meet again and his Dad would be so proud of what a man he has turned out to be.

We never give up in Mountain Rescue and it was a special night meeting and talking to Neil.

Beinn a’ Chaorainn – Once on the ridge, there are no easy escape routes. A quick escape can be made from the summit by descending the northeast ridge, which descends from the south summit (Point 1049). However, caution is required on account of the in cut gully south of the main summit which is not terribly obvious on the map and is a known accident blackspot.

 Beware of the cornice on Beinn a’ Chaorainn in poor visibility. Large cornices often build up on the steep east flank above Coire na h-Uamha, and due to the incut corrie edge a safe line between any of the hill’s three summits requires a dogleg rather than a straight line. It’s a well-known spot for tricky navigation, and for accidents,


This time last year was an easy winter there was hardly any snow this is a photo in late  on in  January in the Fannichs on the outlier Achailleach. It was an easy walk but there was plenty of ice on the grass in places and care had to be taken. This winter there is tons of snow and many white outs cornices are huge and it is Winter Mountaineering. Even on this day in the Fannichs we had to be careful with the grass covered ice.

2017 Snow-less Fannichs January how things can change.


Warning – Hillwalkers warned about magnets in clothing

Magnets in outdoor clothing and on phone covers raise the risk of hill walkers making navigational errors, Mountaineering Scotland has warned.

The group said magnets were increasingly being used as fastenings on items such as gloves.

Mountaineering Scotland said a recent incident in Glen Shee was thought to have been caused by a magnetic fastening deflecting a compass needle.

It said a group of walkers had wrongly headed east instead of west.

They then became disorientated in low cloud and ended up miles away from a road that would have led them to safety.

‘Life-threatening consequences’

Heather Morning, mountain safety adviser for Mountaineering Scotland, said: “Fortunately no-one was hurt – just pride dented – but it could have turned out so much worse had mountain conditions been more severe.

“The reason for the error was the compass.

“It had been stored in a pocket next to a mobile phone in a case which had a magnetic closure on it, and the magnet had reversed the polarity of the compass needle, so that the north arrow pointed south.”

The phenomenon of reversed polarity has been publicised previously in mountaineering circles. People are advised to keep their compasses well away from mobile phones.

Mountaineering Scotland said it was concerned by the growing use of magnetic closures in outdoor clothing.

Ms Morning said: “Modern technology is great. The resources available now to keep us warm and safe in the mountains have never been better.

“But more joined-up thinking is needed between outdoor clothing manufacturers and mountain users to avoid potentially life-threatening consequences.”

Once the weather settles it will be a winter wonderland that so many will enjoy watch the weather listen to the Avalanche reports, tell folk where your going and always if in doubt turn back. The hills will always be there the secret is to be there with them.


2018 Jan Top of Lochan

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“The experiences of our past are still the best road map to our future” Should we learn from mountain accidents?-

As I am still aware of the tragic events that are happening this winter on the hills are raw to many. I know full well the consequences of this as it is my sisters nephews who were lost in last weeks huge search in the North West in the Achnasheallach area. Sadly Neil is still missing. At this time there are three winter mountaineers missing as I write this and the teams are working so hard to bring loved ones home as many forgets that these incidents are ongoing. The Police have the responsibility for mountain Rescue but how far does this go? Mountain Rescue are getting more involved in Safety issues, Mountaineering Scotland and Heather Morning the Safety Officer does a superb job but she is one person and a its huge task. There is also a Mountain Safety Committee but maybe it is time to formalise something for looking into accidents more formally? In the many countries this happens and so much is learned from it. If it looks like an equipment break crampon failure or other climbing gear if noticed it will be looked into by the B.M.C Technical Committee.

So many mountain  accidents happen and many are self explanatory a slip a fall but there are also in my opinion ones we can learn from. If you make a living in the mountains Guiding or Instructing then there may be an investigation as to what happened and the information passed on to other organisations. In the military I was on 3 accident boards and we learnt much from these. One finding was when wearing crampons wear a helmet, Simple and easy to action, it was not a witch hunt/ or blame culture but a way to learn from. Yet it could have been as there is a blame culture around especially in big organisations but when I was involved it was lessons learned from each incident. The tragic avalanche accident in the Chalamain Gap a few years ago has still not completed its findings, or am I wrong?

2018 the Year of the Cornice?

I fully understand that the last thing a family need is an enquiry in the midst of their loss but should we still not learn and pass on the messages? This winter a least two accidents have been with people falling over Cornices and we can educate folk about winter navigation and how in winter it is not hill walking but winter mountaineering.   When my best friend was killed with a pal winter climbing in Lochnagar a myself and Graham Gibb the then Braemar Team leader looked at the accident in detail and learned so much that we passed on to others. I also talk on Mountain Safety to many folk and pass on my hard won lessons from personally and from the many incidents I have been involved in. On the 4 talks I did in November on each night a family arrived at the talk and were happy that I passed on any lessons learned from their tragedy.

This was my peice a few years ago:

I have decided to write about something that few people will be aware of and

their relevance to Mountain Safety and nowadays to Mountain Rescue Funding. I

have been fortunate as for many years I was involved in meeting two of the main

protagonist of the Scottish Mountain Rescue Stats Ben Humble and John Hinde.

They compiled the Stats for the Scottish Mountain Rescue Committee; Ben was a

renowned mountaineer and had a great interest in mountain safety. When Ben

died he left a great legacy through the Scottish Mountaineering Club Annual

Journal where the Stats were put in since the early 40’s. Ben wrote and worked

tirelessly and his article “A survey of Mountain Accidents In Scotland 1925 – 45″

was a breakthrough at the time. After this Ben compiled a yearly listing of

Mountain Accidents in the Journals. It was when Ben passed away John Hinde

took over and did another outstanding job for many years; they left a unique

history and so much information for future generations especially in the aspects

of Mountain safety.

Nowadays Mountain Rescue Teams are extremely busy and after a call out the

last thing they need is to afterwards is to compile the call –out report. Yet they

are so important especially nowadays. I took over the Statistician job for several

years and had various problems keeping up with the reports. There were in these

days 400 call –outs many involving several teams. The paperwork involved was

very hard work and at times it was a constant battle to keep up to date. It

became nearly a full time job and kept me very busy in any spare time I had.

I did a talk a few years when I was the Scottish Mountain Rescue Statistician it

was to try to get the teams to realise how important they are. None of us like

paperwork but it is so essential especially when trying to raise funding from

Government Sources. I found this out the hard way in the late 80’s when they

were going to cut the RAF Teams or even get rid of them. It was a real panic but I

was the only Team with a history going back to 1944 and could prove to the

“Bean Counters” that 10% of our incidents were for military aircraft and military

personnel. That Bean Counter was put back in his box for a few more years. It

was also very relevant in the early days of trying for funding from the Scottish

Government when I was Chairman of Scottish Mountain Rescue. We had to

explain to the First Minister that Teams put in a huge amount of hours in on

training, courses and looking after equipment apart from attending incidents.

These are a few points from my talk!


The information gained from a few years incidents can be so helpful to teams. It

can help show the areas in which Team Training should go. If your Team mainly

does Lowland Urban searches should you spend do much time and money on

expensive equipment on Technical gear? Maybe look more into Search planning

and training? Or if you carry out a lot searches in areas of swift water should the

training be increased in this area? Agree fully on this one. A rich profile of what a

team does and where it does it can help inform not only training (what and

where) but also what kinds of equipment to purchase. It’s all about matching

what the team does in theory to what it actually does in practice. I suspect that

in many cases this is not the case.

Also, an accurate and up-to-date picture about what happens across Scotland

can help advise the Press, Government and safety organisations such as the

MS on what aspects to focus on, and also avoid these organisations passing on year after year inaccurate myths (e.g. all mountaineers are ill equipped and

Inexperienced numpties hell bent on jumping off cliffs!)

Searches – Team areas will have accident hot spots that are current today it may be

worth having a look back and see if any changes are relevant? Casualties

do get found in areas that were hot spots in the past. At times many of the

current team may have limited knowledge of this historical fact as elder

Team member’s leave and their knowledge could be lost forever? Agree

fully. A recent Professor of IT is quoted as saying “ “The experiences of our

past are still the best road map to our future”. You are correct that hot

spots of the past disappear and new ones appear. Its only we you carry out

an objective analysis that trends like this appear. This can help a present

team to find out more about the new hot spots (where are they, how do you

gain access, what are the technical challenges, and so on). Far better to be

Pre-warned than be caught out on a rescue!

Medical – Look at the injuries your team deals with make priorities in these areas that are

you need to. If you deal with 80% ankle lower limbs make sure all can treat and

the equipment is suitable. How many stretcher carries do you do how often do

you practice? It is easy to get side tracked? Fully agree. No point in spending

£1000s on fancy kit to deal with a broken femur when your team has never ever

had such an injury! Also, if a team mainly deals with searches with no injured

people then why train numerous members to become EMTs etc, when the money

and time would be better spent on training up people to become better at

searching and search management.


Funding – The government are interested in Stats – man/ women hours so important. What

about the hours on training and sorting gear and exercises they are never

submitted in the figures only call out hours. What about travel to and from a call out,

sorting out gear, standby hours etc. “Bean Counters” only want numbers but

that is how it works . It is really worth working out how many hours the team

spends training/ courses and kit maintenance? It will amaze you! When you add

up all the hours carried out by every team across a full year it sums to around

40,000 hours (give or take). This translates into many, many full time police

Officers, which goes to show not only what a comprehensive job we do, but also

and how much money is saved to the public purse.

Safety/Research – The common causes of accidents in your area maybe worth alerting climbers and walkers to current trends in your area. Is safety not a Mountain Rescue Concern?

I have noticed that the Stats for Scottish Mountain Rescue still do not include all the teams

The SMR/MRS is the organisation in the BEST POSSIBLE position to advise

everyone – Press, Government, Course Providers, Governing bodies, etc, what

goes wrong. It has a moral obligation to publish its annual statistics far and wide

and in a timely manner – not two years late! Also, as a government funded

Organisation, should it have a legal responsibility to do this too? Some  of he recent accidents on Ben Nevis (winter 2015) have been in the same area and involve walkers ? Why is this trend happening?

Historical – So many casualties will come back many years later to find out what happened

to them or a loved one. It is good to have some back ground on the incident and

what happened. Many things re –occur on a regular cycle. You and I can recount

numerous instances where family members have come back to us for

information about someone in the family who died (a grid reference, more detail,

who assisted etc.) and SMR has a moral responsibility to help these people by

providing relevant information.


Stats are so important –

The world has changed nowadays with the Data Protection Act and personal

privacy, with new regulations to ensure that this is adhered to. We do not need to

name any casualties but age and other factors are very relevant. With one Police

Force I was assured that we would have current and accurate stats that we can

use for the next generations to learn from, I wonder how far we are from this now

the Single Police force is up and running. I feel we owe it to John Hinde, Ben

Humble and all the other Statistics Officers who maintained and published

accurate and up-to-date records to tackle this problem before it is too late.

Is it only me that sees this as a problem?

Any comments welcome?

Worth noting

Mountain Rescue England and Wales (MREW) is very open about what it does and you can download annual figures from as far back as 1980 right through to 2013.

Go to –


Irish MR is not quite as up to date but still open about publishing its annual stats.  Go to –


Do we seem to be lagging behind?

Thanks to Bob Sharp for his input and Ben Humble and John Hinde for the inspiration!

Past Comments –  A comment 0f Congratulations on a very forceful and heartfelt defence of management information in mountain rescue.

All the points you make are valid, both north and south of the border as well as across the Irish Sea. For the last two decades I have been trying to instil these same points into the English and Welsh MRTs. I believe progress has been made but I am still not satisfied that the MREW figures are complete. For what it is worth, my sympathy goes out to all the statisticians who have followed John Hinde; not only a difficult act to follow but one made harder by poor co-operation from teams.

The production of management information is vital for the development of mountain safety and rescue. This point is well-made by Heavy. All the aspects covered by the article are essential if mountain rescue is to develop in a way that reflects changes in society. Without this steady flow of information, it is likely that lessons will be overlooked, will not be learned or quickly be forgotten.

Please consider publishing your article further afield. It might even blow some of the blinkers away. From down South!

Any comments.

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