Check your head – torch is working – Tilly lamps on the hills.

Tilly Lamp

From Tilly lamps to head – torches.

It is hard to believe that on one of my early call outs in 1974 in March on Ben Nevis I was on a search at night for a young couple who had wandered into 5 Finger Gully on Ben Nevis.

I was given a Tilly lamp to search with and I carried it up the gully. It was steep awful ground with snow and ice in the Gully when a then well-known Lochaber Team Member Willie Anderson who saw it took it off me as I was really struggling on the steep ground.

Willie threw it away, he was looking after me I needed to be fully aware of any slip with my axe.

I was worried about how I would explain that to my Team Leader but he was okay about it. I have been there on several other occasions in 5 finger Gully and never found it and apologise for leaving litter on the hill.

I wonder what future Mountaineering archaeologists will make of a Tilly in 5 finger gully.

After that I purchased a decent head torch as the issue one was pretty poor. In Mountain Rescue you do a lot of Rescues and train at night a head torch is essential and there have been a few disasters on this piece of gear over the years.

At RAF Valley in North Wales during a time when money was tight late 70’s MOD in its wisdom bought cheap batteries for our head torches that fell apart on a Wet night rescue high on the Idwal Slabs. I was the Deputy Team Leader at the time and sent of a powerful signal to the powers that be about the procurement of such rubbish.

That was the last signal I was to send for a time as it ruffled so many in the Supply Branch at the time but we got descent batteries after that. The marvellous improvement in head torches and lighting for personal and Rescue use is incredible. Tales of climbers climbing in a wild winter night with a torch in their teeth as they climbed some of the big routes in the ebbing light and moonlight are legend.

After seeing the recent pictures of Cairngorm Mountain Rescue Team on call outs last winter with their powerful headlights is a huge improvement from the early days. Each rescuer is in their own world of snow and a pool of light it is surreal and impressive. I try to keep up with all the changes and the costs of some of these head torches are incredible some are over £300.

I have tried so many the famous “Sharks Eye” with 6 heavy batteries that lasted about 2 hours was amazing but it was hand held and not much use when searching very steep ground. We also did some testing with Hamish MacInnes and a huge Military Searchlight in Glencoe millions of Candle power how many remember that night?

A head torch is a vital addition to a winter hill bag and I always carry a spare so often I have had to give mine away. This was often to some person who does not carry one or has not checked it for some time and the batteries are flat. Always check your head torch and ensure it is working.

Try walking at night and see how tricky it is, imagine that without one?   

I always carry two after lending mine out on rescues and never seeing them again.

It’s worth remembering Your phone is NOT A HEAD TORCH.

I AM LOOKING TO BUY A NEW HEAD TORCH ANY ADVICE?

Posted in Articles, Friends, Gear, Mountain rescue, mountain safety, Mountaineering, Views Mountaineering | Leave a comment

Thanks for all the kind thoughts and words after the loss of Sarah.

It is great to hear from so many folk after a tragedy. I am lucky to have so many who care with incredible words and thoughts when you lose someone.

Over the last few days I have received so many.

Mountaineering brings you very close to those you climb or walk with. There is at times a unique trust in each other especially in bad weather or if things start to go wrong.

In Mountain Rescue you may take a lot more risks at times than normal. That is the nature of the beast. You hope that your training will ensure that the chances of an accident are cut. That means training in weather where most would not be out in. At times the “risk assessment” was high but I was so lucky in my time we never had a fatality from one of our own.

Many were very young folk joined with limited experience but our training produced some exceptional Mountaineers and people. Yet I always worried about them on a Rescue and was so glad when they all came back home. Looking back we must have been doing things right.

“I like to think that those of us in charge were these young people’s guardians; entrusted with their wellbeing and tasked with giving them some life skills besides great adventures, that hopefully have stood them in good stead throughout their lives. When one of then goes prematurely it is a real jolt and the sadness is palpable. Death can never take away the memories though. “Words from Kenny Kennworthy RAF Kinloss MRT Team Leader. Photo Kalie Wilkinson.

Posted in Articles, Mountain rescue, mountain safety, Mountaineering, People, Well being | Leave a comment

In Praise of An Teallach – In memory of Sarah Hassell

Many who climb An Teallach climb the Munro’s Sgurr Fiona and Bidean a’Ghlas Thuill. they are both exceptional mountains and though a great day this to me is the appetiser they miss the main course. This mountain has 9 tops on it and is a complex mountain and one I love. How many have climbed the full ridge Sail Liath the Four Pinnacles of Coire Bhuidhe and Lord Berkeley’s Seat and gone out to these other outliers on the ridges?

I love climbing the full ridge from Sail Liath and then you meet the pinnacles falling into Toll an Lochain and the ridge looking like a natures hacksaw has made this place. The huge sandstone pinnacles and Buttress and the Lochan below.

How many who climb the whole ridge still miss the views from some of these rarely climbed other summits. The Munro tops.

The tops of An Teallach

Yet from these viewpoints the mountain is seen at its best. In my view the If you can go and climb them.

The modern guide books will tell you step by step how to climb the Two Munro’s but few go into the other ways onto the ridges. These are great fun and you can have superb day in the two Corries. I doubt if you will many others.

In winter there is some great climbing and that is well documented. Yet to do a winter route and then a traverse of the complete ridge is an incredible winter day. I have had the privilege to do this several times. Getting of the hill at the end of the day especially in the short winter daylight can be interesting. The classic Constabulary Couloir climbed by Tom Patey and members of the Police Mountain Rescue Team years ago. I had so many great days in winter here as well we climbed the Waterfall that flows onto the frozen loch and never recorded it.

Over the years we built up big days including An Teallach and the Fisherfield 5/6 in a day that became a tradition for a few. They now they add the Corbetts Beinn Dearg Beag and Mhor in running gear but what fun these days were. Sadly most were done at speed taking little time to look around just after a time that never really mattered. We often meet the Goats high up you smell them before you see them. You watch there agility on the steep ground and marvel at them.

Great nights in Sheneval Bothy and climbing An Teallach from this side but by rarely climbed ways. This is a complex mountain but with views that are always changing.

I have taken family and completed several Munro Rounds including one with my Dog Teallach and others with various pals. It was where I completed 2 rounds of the Munro Tops on these summits. Its a mountain that I love with all my heart.

Many of these climbs became a classic in my days with the RAF Mountain rescue team.

The young troops enjoyed this route and it became a right of passage for some. In winter its a fierce mountain where in varying conditions it can provide a long Alpine day where care is need.

 I really enjoyed it in a long Summer day when we could sit on the summits and enjoy a full traverse. There would be no rush but it was still a long day.

In my youth!

This would also be a good place to use the rope on the scrambles  and show the new team members the routes and places where care is needed and sadly accidents can happen. This was our job and those pieces of area knowledge were vital. The next time we could be here may be at night helping the local Dundonald MRT. They have a base at the foot of the mountain nowadays.

One of these days we did the whole ridge plus the outliers on a long summer day. It was special as three of the troops were young and loved every minute. We took a rope and took the hardest route up the pinnacles.

Mark and Sarah on An Teallach.

It was a marvellous day with special folk. Sarah, Mark and Stu were superb and the photos show it. This is a Scottish day in the Mountains that is very special and it was great to introduce them to the full ridge. The views all around of the Fisherfield hills and the remoteness is spectacular. 

The Troops on An Teallach.

That day I told them the incredible story of  the attempt of a Rescue a Documentary based on the diaries of Iain Ogilvie, “Duel on An Teallach” its now on utube about a single man’s effort to rescue two fellow-climbers. This was after they slipped from the ridge and fell down a 700-foot gully while climbing the An Teallach ridge in winter the north west of Scotland in April 1966. It is a tale I know well as the Kinloss MRT team were involved in the recovery Ian Olgilive did an incredible job to try and save the lives of his pals and the late Doctor Patey reached the casualties at night after Ian’s epic attempt to lower them alone down the face. Ian was awarded an MBE for his efforts and Doctor Patey the Queens Commendation for Bravery. The Ross and Sutherland Police Team led by Donnie Smith followed Tom Patey in that night. Please watch that video it is a insight into winter mountaineering. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RF5H4v6shNs

In Winter Garbh


That day I went out to the Munro top Sgurr Creag an Eich with Sarah the rest sat on the top enjoying the views. We dumped our bags on the beleach and headed out it was an incredible day. I was a bit fitter then but not as fit as Sarah. Instead we walked slowly chatted as the views of this hidden side of An Teallach expanded. We sat on the summit and enjoyed it then took a few photos.

Sarah On the summit of Sgurr Creag an Eich

No one knew that was my last Munro top that day but I told her. She took a photo, then we wandered back to meet the rest of the boys. They I think had fallen asleep on the last summit. We walked off on a stunning evening with the North West at its best. They were all full of this specail day and had enjoyed it the weather was superb as was the company. They laughed at me running ahead getting the photos.

I found it great to see how these new team member’s had developed, the ones that last love the mountains forever. They share the joys and the sadness at times as a fatality is never easy on the hills. Yet the memories of bringing someone of alive is so fulfilling. They grow up and learn so quick. Many spent only a few years in the team yet they were involved in some epics that stayed with them for life. You watch them change and in a couple of winters become incredible capable young folk. There is great responsibility in this job most are young folk who trust you completel. At times there is great danger and you push them in bad weather to ensure they can cope when the call outs happen. Few ever let us down and you watch them become steady mountaineers but even better humans. I never stopped enjoying seeing them improve and you become very fond of them all. You can always learn and laugh as you are now the “old Codger” but still of use at times.

This week we lost Sarah in such tragic circumstances and I have had incredible messages of sympathy from many of her pals from all over the World. I cannot thank you enough for that. It was one of the best hill days of my life that day on An Teallach yet another memory of this great mountain and also of the specail people you meet in them.

For Sarah.

Our Sarah was one of them “Best Ever”

In memory of Sarah Hassell

Posted in Articles, Books, Corbetts, Corbetts and other hills, Enviroment, Family, Friends, Mountain rescue, mountain safety, Munros, People, Rock Climbing, Views Mountaineering, Well being, Wildlife | 4 Comments

Tragic News today.

I was on the hill today and received a few texts usually a sign of bad news. It was sadly an ex Team-member had been Murdered. Sarah Hassall (McIroy) was with me in the RAF Kinloss MRT. She was a great team member loved the Mountain Rescue and a strong lass on the hill. She was always “happy go lucky” laughing and like us all a troop. It was neverv easy in these early days when the girls arrived on the RAF teams. She was a great lass strong and always enthusiastic and so funny.

She spent time in her first years at RAF Kinloss and was full time Mountain Rescue At RAF Valley in North Wales.

Sarah on An Teallach.

We had many great days on the hills and crags over the years. Sarah loved the mountains and became talented rock climber. We had one special day together doing all the tops and Munro’s on An Teallach she was the only one who came out with me to that last top. The rest of the boys sat on the Munro enjoying rest. Call – outs were never easy she saw a lot in these early years some sad events. She was a true team member.

She married and joined the Army and left in 2010 to raise her two young sons. They were her pride and joy.

Sarah on Blank
The Isle of Arran – she loved the mountains x

Sarah on Beinn Alder.

I always tell folk that after she had a great day on the hill or a climb her words “Best Ever” would be to thank you for a fun time. My thoughts are with the family.

See below the Police Statement.

“Pontypridd murder investigation:
Woman victim named and her family pay tribute

South Wales Police is now in a position to name the 38 year-old woman who died following an incident at an address in Llys Graig Ty Wion, Pontypridd, on Sunday morning (6 October).

Sarah Hassall was from Chelmsford, Essex – her family have paid the following tribute to her:

‘After growing up in the family home in Chelmsford, Sarah dedicated herself to 14 years of military service in both the RAF and the Royal Engineers.

‘Her career was dominated by her commitment to mountain search and rescue – Sarah represented her units at both rock climbing competitions and competitive running.

‘Sarah left the army in 2010 to embark on, and excel at, even greater challenges – raising two young boys, Owain and Evan.

‘Sarah was my best friend and touched many more lives along the way. We all now mourn her passing, grateful for the short time we had in her company.’

Sarah’s family are currently being supported by specially trained family liaison officers.

The investigation into her death, which is being treated as murder, is ongoing. The 37 year-old man from Pontypridd, who has been arrested in connection with her murder, remains in police custody.

Anyone with information on this incident is urged to call 101 or contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111, quoting occurrence *369431.“

Awful News.

Posted in Family, Friends, Mountain rescue, Mountaineering, People | Leave a comment

That old Question “Is it worth recording that you have completed your Munro’s ?”

When I completed in 1976 I completed along with a mate Tom MacDonald on the same day on separate mountains. I was pretty pleased with myself as in these days It had become a consuming passion and I was lucky to be able to go out most weekend to a different area with the RAF Mountain Rescue Team. In these days I could not drive and many hills were hitched to on our weekend off. The late John Hinde and Ben Humble put in our completion with the SMC as at that time in the RAF Kinloss Team as few had previously completed. There were few guide books then and a very basic Munro book. In the Briefing room we had a Munros Board even then.

Most of the information was in the SMC District Guides or from others. Few of the hills have paths and often you rarely met folk on the hill. It was a different era.

“Dear Heavy

On behalf of all the members of RAF Kinloss Mountain Rescue Team may I congratulate you on a really fine achievement in ascending An Socach 3097 feet in Braemar on 13 November 1976.  You completed a unique double with Tom Mc Donald to join a small band of climbers who have ascended all the 280 “Munro Mountains” in Scotland.

Many thanks for your hard work with the team, for you can be rightly and justifiably proud of your efforts. Well done and best wishes for many happy and enjoyable days in the mountains.” Pete McGowan.

Munro write up.

This is a great discussion point to me I would be interested to hear your views on whether you should Register with the Scottish Mountaineering Club Clerk of the lists or not?

The SMC hold a record of Munros, Corbetts, Grahams and Donalds compleators. Notification of compleation and any amendments to the List should be sent by email to the Clerk of the Munro list – munroclerk@smc.org.uk or in writing to the Clerk of the Munro List

Last Munro Ladhar Bheinn

Alison Coull
258/1 Ferry Road
EDINBURGH
EH5 3AN

The Clerk of the List, likes to know how long you have taken, your first and last hills, your age, plans for the future, where you are from and any other details which may be of interest. You letter will be added to the SMC archive in the National Library of Scotland. The information in your letter may also be included in the summary of munro achievements in the SMC’s journal which is published annually.

Enclose an SAE to ensure a reply notifying your number and details of how to purchase a specially designed Munroist tie or brooch. If you request a certificate the SAE should be A4 size with correct postage (A4 is Large Letter size)

The Clerk aims to respond within two weeks of receipt but there may be a longer delay at busier times of the year for registration or if the Clerk is on holiday. If you have not heard after a month you may wish to contact the Clerk again in case your notification has not been received. 

Another Completion . Sgurr Na Ciche.

If you have completed your Munro’s the Munro Society does a lot of good.

Founded in 2002 membership is open to anyone who has climbed all the Munro summits as listed in Munro’s Tables at the time of compleation – 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 6,000 names. However, some 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.They do a lot for Mountaineering and they give a lot back to the mountains which give us so much.

The Munro Society.

Some books that made the Munro journey a joy for me. These books and many others are a wonderful insight into this magical journey.

In 1985 mountain guide the late Martin Moran achieved the first completion of all 277 Munros* in a single winter with the support and companionship of his wife Joy. Their success was a feat of dedicated mountaineering and effective teamwork through the storms, snows and avalanches of an epic winter season in the Scottish Highlands. Martin s account of the winter journey became a classic mountain narrative, combining his passionate enthusiasm for the mountains with humorous insights into a marriage put to the test through three months of living in a camper van. It was described as the best guidebook to the Munros by mountain writer Jim Perrin. The book inspired many other climbers and runners to pick up the gauntlet in pursuit of new feats of endurance on Scotland s hills, and is now reissued with full colour photographs plus an introductory update by the author on how the Munros in Winter changed his life.

Hamish Brown was the first walker and climber to complete the Munros in a single round. By his own rules he did it self-powered except where ferries were required and with the aid of his trusty fold away bike. The year was 1974, and the roads of Scotland carried only a fraction of the traffic they do today, windmill farms were unheard of, crafting was more vibrant than it is today, and a strong Scottish mountaineering tradition was already established. Four years later Hamish s Mountain Walk appeared and was an immediate success, inspiring not only climbers but also readers fascinated by the history, geology, plant life and lore of one of Europe s most remote and unspoiled regions. Many walkers and authors would follow in Hamish Brown s boot prints, but none could bring the freshness and few could touch the depth of knowledge and experience. Now the book returns, re-imagined in modern fonts, with a new introduction and appendix and with two brilliant full colour plate sections provided by the author from his photography over four decades. This new volume is destined to further inspire and guide new generations of hill walkers about the Scottish hills in this new era.

Some terms on those who chase mutiple rounds.

Munro golfer is one that walks “pure” rounds. They walk every round from start to finish, one Munro after another.

Munro banker walks multiple rounds at once. So while walking round number one they also bag Munros for their next round or even their third round.

These terms, of course, only apply to people who are waking more than one round of Munros, but these Munroists are increasing in number.

Many when I started Munro Bagging were so against the Munros most I felt were a bit narrow minded, the Munros etc in my view give you a great understanding of this land we all love. We are all different many enjoy like me many aspects of mountaineering but I still get great joy attending a final summit of any round.

Footnote – On Oct 1 st Steve Fallon Mountain Guide completed his 16 th round of the Munros well done Steve! https://www.stevenfallon.co.uk

Posted in Books, Enviroment, Friends, Mountain rescue, mountain safety, Mountaineering, Munros, People, SMC/SMT, Views Mountaineering, Well being | Leave a comment

Thank you all from Mountain Aid. Corbett’s for Courses. Thanks for raising £1200 for Charity.

Mountain Aid is a great charity and best to my heart they do a lot of work for Mountaineers.

During May, June and July 2019 Mountain Aid, the hillwalkers’ charity, organised a successful fundraising campaign “Corbetts for Courses”.

Over the three months over 200 ascents of Corbetts  (Scottish hills between 2 500 ft. and 3 000 ft. and a drop of at least 500 ft. all round) were undertaken by more than 70 participants, some four legged, many climbing several hills.

Corbett’s for Course Collage

The sum of almost £1200 was raised for Mountain Aid.  This will enable the charity to fund its navigation and winter skills courses which are free to participants.

Highlights of the event included ascents of:

     Ben Aden, a remote hill in Knoydart, accessed by canoe along Loch Quoich

     West coast hills accessed by private yacht

The Corbetts on the islands of Rum, Skye, Harris, Arran, Jura and Mull And Goatfell at night.

     Many of the Corbetts along the Stevenson Way during a three-week trek

A spokesperson for Mountain Aid said, “We would like to thank everyone who took part in the event and made it such as success, whether that be by climbing a Corbett, making a donation or supporting others in their endeavours. Thanks to the generosity of our supporters, Mountain Aid will be able to continue to provide freetraining courses for the next year”. 

Further information available at     www.mountainaid.org.uk

Background

Mountain Aid

Mountain Aid is a volunteer-run Scottish Charity (SC040294) with the objective of promoting mountain safety. Established in 2009, the charity is the successor to the well known Boot Across Scotland. 

Mountain Aid activities include:• An annual programme of free “experiential” navigation, winter skills and outdoor first aid training courses.• A series of free mountain safety lectures at venues across the country.• Organising Skills for the Hills and Scottish Mountain Safety Days. These exhibition style events offer hill-goers a chance to meet and talk to agencies involved in the great outdoors in Scotland.

Corbetts

Compared with the more popular Munros, the Corbetts are spread further across Scotland, stretching down into the Borders, west into Ardgour and featuring on many more islands. There are 222 of these distinctive mountains, whose height ranges between 2500 and 3000 feet, with descent of at least 500 feet from adjacent hills. The challenge of completing all the Corbetts is often considered to be greater than that of completing the Munros.

Contact: 

info.mountainaid@gmail.com

www.mountainaid.org.uk

https://www.facebook.com/MountainAidUK/

The included image is a collage of summit photographs taken by participants during the event.

Mountain Aid is a Registered Charity SC040294 and is privileged to have Cameron McNeish as Patron since 2009

For more information, visit www.mountainaid.org.uk or email info.mountainaid@gmail.com

Posted in Articles, Charity, Friends, mountain safety, Mountaineering, People, Well being | Leave a comment

Ardmair a wonderful setting by the sea and the mountains. This week snow is forecast for the mountains

I am so lucky my Grandkids are in Scotland and up and they were up for the Festival at Ullapool staying at Ardmair Point caravan and campsite. What a location that is. The sea the small Isles and the mountains make it a perfect setting.

I was on baby sitting duties on Sat night so Mum and Dad could go to the Festival in Ullapool.

I drove up in the afternoon through rain but it cleared as I arrived near Ullapool. The sun was out and the town so busy. I had a drive round up to Elphin the hills wet clearing and as always it was incredible these hills are so wild. Sadly the road was busy with “posh cars” blasting along in convoy ticking off the NC 500 oh for the Police with a speed gun. Goodness knows what they see in their mad rush or is it just me?

They miss all this.

It was great having a bit of time as the girls were in Lochinver and I had a few hours on my own.

The great poetry of Norman MaCaig are always in my head when I leave Ullapool into these hills.

A Man in Assynt

“Glaciers, grinding West, gouged out

these valleys, rasping the brown sandstone,

and left, on the hard rock below –

the ruffled foreland –

this frieze of mountains, filed

on the blue air –

I love these hills.

Stac Polly,

Cul Beag, Cul Mor, Suilven,

Canisp –

a frieze and

a litany.“

On my drive it was busy though with lots of folk about many looking at the views and enjoying it. There were loads of photographers waiting for the right light to hit the hills

Ardvreck Castle – where one of my heroes was murdered.
While Montrose was landing in Scotland, from Orkney, Charles was agreeing with the Covenanters that he would disband. The King’s letter never reached Montrose and he marched to defeat at the Battle of Carbisdale, in April, 1650. A few days later, Charles disavowed Montrose under the terms of the Treaty of Breda. Montrose fled to Ardvreck Castle on Loch Assynt, where he was betrayed to the Covenanters by the Laird, Neil MacLeod, for the princely sum of £25,000.

I stopped at Ardvreck Castle is a ruined castle dating from the 16th century which stands on a rocky promontory jutting out into Loch Assynt in Sutherland, Scotland. It has great views of the hills.

One can reach the ruins by driving along the A837 which follows the north shore of Loch Assynt from the village of Inchnadamph.

Opened: 1590

Built by:

Clan MacLeod

I visited the Castle and it was good to have a wander and see this piece of history I had often visited years ago on a wet day hiding from the hills. In these days it was a quick look now at last I had time. It had great views of the back of Quinag and I will be back in winter to revisit when the crowds have gone.

It was then a wander a walk them back to a sun filled Ardmair and fun with girls. They love the beach and learning the simple things like skimming stones. It was warm and after tea we had more fun outside. The light was incredible and to watch the girls on the beach was magic as the light changed. The sun setting to young eyes and the stunning views even to young kids is spell binding. They both had their faces painted at the Festival it was so good to have them with me. The simple things are so important.

The beautiful sunset.

So often we rush about and miss the simple things like sunset and family time. It was an easy night with the girls and instead of staying I headed home after Mum and Dad returned . It was an easy drive home the hills were dark but the stars were out. I saw a few deer about and stopped for a break in the dark as I always do. I am sure I heard the first stags of the season roar in the darkness. Always a sign to me of the winter on its way. The girls Mum and Dad stayed and visited old haunts that we had done many years ago. It’s great and I hope the girls will have a love of the wild places that they have. We are spoiled up here we have so much and I never take anything for granted.

It’s hard to believe that snow is forecast for the mountains this week after sitting in the sun enjoying the last of summer. Yet it is – the nights are drawing in and I wonder what another winter will bring.

Today’s tip.

Watch how you plan your days on the hills.

There is less time before it’s dark.

Check that torch and put some extra gear in your bag.

Have fun as that is what it’s all about.

Posted in Enviroment, Family, Local area and events to see, People, Weather, Well being, Wildlife | Leave a comment

Tom Patey – One Man’s Mountains.

I head up to the North West to Ullapool this weekend. Ullapool is a gateway to the promised land. It was and is a place of incredible beauty and wildness a place I love. It was the home of a great character Doctor Tom Patey. The climbing Doctor.

One of the great mountaineering books I have ever read is” One Man’s Mountains” about the life of the famous Scottish Climbing Doctor Tom Patey. Sadly I never met Tom but he was well known by many of my friends in the RAF Mountain Rescue and helped them on many call – outs especially in the far North West where he was a Doctor in Ullapool.

His most famous call -out was on An Teallach in April 1966. 2 climbers we’re killed on Sgurr Fiona.  This incident was recently reconstructed and filmed for television. Hamish McIness film “Duel with An Teallach” Tom Patey awarded a medal for his part. It’s an incredible tale and the Locals and RAF Kinloss MRT we’re involved in the evacuation. I have spoken to some who were involved what Tom Patey did that night was incredible.

Tom Patey was a Scottish climber mountaineer, doctor and writer. He was a leading Scottish climber of his day, particularly excelling on winter routes. He died in a climbing accident at the age of 38.Tom Patey worked for ten years as a General Practitioner (GP) in Ullapool, in the far north-west of Scotland. He served for four years as Surgeon Lieutenant in the Royal Marines at the 42 Commando School at Bickleigh. I have climbed many of his routes and really enjoyed them.

Wreckers Slab.

The most recent was one of his Classic climbs in Cornwall “Wreckers Slab” and that was a great day.

Wreckers Slab 115 metres VS – North Devon – One of the longest, most alluring and serious VS climbs in the West Country, Wrecker’s Slab is nevertheless the most attempted of its genre on the coast. The huge, slim slab rising from the beach on the far right-hand side of the cliff has very little in the way of technical difficulty but should not be underestimated as the rock is poor, protection spaced and the situations very serious. Start at the base of the slab just right of the overhangs. An amazing cliff, one of the best adventurous routes in the country. Make it a must to climb, what a fantastic day out. Oh and make sure you don’t throw all the hand holds down to your belayer.I had waited 40 years to climb this route and my pal Pete Greening took me up it what a climb.

An old peg on the route.

Patey’s routes are all over Scotland and his writings about his adventures are all in the book, I love “Night Shift in Zero” and his epic Sea Stack adventures you have to read the book and then have a go a some of his adventures.

His regular first ascents, such as Mitre Ridge, The Scorpion and Douglas-Gibson Gully (Scotland’s first grade V—sustained ice to 80 degrees), whenever his studies allowed.  He was based in Aberdeen then and with Brooker climbed the first winter ascent of Eagle Ridge in Lochnagar, in 1953, with Patey and Mike Taylor. The trio astounded their peers by completing the traverse in just over four hours in hobnail boots—to this day an impressive feat for what is still seen as a long day’s climb at grade V. Their climb remains a classic Scottish winter route. 

Zero Gully was another and they climbed these routes with simple gear. Most climb Zero Gully downgraded now with great ice tools and 8 ice screws, they were bold men.

Hamish MacInnes recalls one February evening in 1965 and asks if he would like to make an attempt at the first winter traverse of the celebrated Cuillin Ridge on the Isle of Skye, which lies off the west coast of Scotland. The winter traverse of the Cuillin remains a major challenge today. Alpine in length, commitment and technicality, the ridge neither rises above 4,000 feet nor drops below 2,500 feet. Yet the historic traverse by Patey and his three companions is reported as a catalogue of comic and near-tragic mishaps, including a broken crampon and Patey’s climbing partner Brian Robertson “stopping every half-mile to be sick” due to the accordion-and-whisky session of the night before.

Patey routes in the Alps and the Himalayas are incredible. After summiting the Mustagh Tower along the Northwest ridge (just days ahead of a French team), Patey was chosen as the doctor for the British-Pakistani attempt on the 25,550-foot Rakaposhi in the Karakoram, in 1958. Again, his stamina and grit came to the fore, and he made the summit with Mike Banks.

In his memoir of the expedition, Mike Banks recalls how Patey, after a grueling day, would cheerfully kick snow-steps up the start of the next day’s section of mountain, while the other team members lay exhausted in their tents.

Tom after the ascent of Rakaposhi
The Maidens sea stack.

He was probably best known for his humorous songs and prose about climbing, many of which were published posthumously in the collection “One Man’s Mountains.”

What a man read the book.

Comments:

Frank Strang

“I grew up with Tom, he and my Dad were big pals and disappeared every weekend to the hill. He was some character and used to tell his wife he was out treating patients but would be playing the accordion in our kitchen with a dram in hand . They “discovered ” the Northern Highlands decades before the masses . I was fortunate as a boy to live in Assynt and the house was a stopping off place for the likes of Tom , Bennett , Slessor, MacInness , Todd, Weir, Tiso  all legends now but characters and family friends then. Great stories . Seems like another World now though?”

On May 25, 1970, Tom Patey was abseiling off a sea stack off the north coast of Scotland called The Maiden. He and a group of friends had just made the first ascent, and Patey was the last man off the top. On his way down he paused, apparently to rearrange the rope. Then his friends watched as he plummeted off the rock face to his death on the slab below. He was 38.

The exact reason for Patey’s death, carrying out a relatively simple manoeuvre that he had done thousands of times, can never be known for sure. However, a predominant theory among his friends hinges on the way he dressed and his notoriously chaotic rope management.

Offering further insight, HamishMacInnes says, “The previous weekend I had been climbing with Tom and he had forgotten his belt, so I gave him an old sling and an old Pierre Alain carabiner [a swing gate that was recalled due to safety issues] that I just used for hauling rucksacks. I told him, ‘Don’t use that carabiner for climbing,’ but these things didn’t register with Tom. That was the carabiner he used for the abseil.”

Wrote Patey: “To my mind the magic of a great route does not lie in its technical difficulty or even the excellence of its rock but in something less readily definable—atmosphere.”

“Live it up, fill your cup, drown your sorrow

And sow your wild oats while ye may

For the toothless old tykes of tomorrow

Were the Tigers of Yesterday. ”

Tom Patey with fag. “How does he climb Solo and briskly , 20 fags a day and a bottle of malt whisky”

Patey Comments from friends

Neil Reid “An early lesson in what a small world it is. almost 40 years ago I was sitting reading the book in my parents’ home and my Dad asked what I was reading. I showed them and started to explain who he was, but was interrupted by my Mum who said she “kent fine fa he wis” – his widow was one of her Thursday morning fly cup pals. That was me in my place”

Tony Bradshaw  –  A well ken’t GP from Ullapool and he turned up at any base camp we set up in his area in the mid to late 60’s , TP with a fag in his mouth and John Hind making up a rolli

Andy Nisbet – Never met him sadly, but I did a new route with his daughter some 20 years ago (the only route she’s ever done, I think).

Neil Findley – An old pal of mine hamish baites climbed with tom and bill brooker,hamish used to tell me tales of their adventures while sipping his pint in the nuke in old portlethen

Graham Hunter -Yes, knew Tom. Excellent book, must re-read.

G. Ackroyd – One of my first reads David Whalley. One of the true characters. (read once or twice since as well.

Angus  Jack – A great read, an inspiration in my younger days. Lived life to the full

Ranald Strachan – My old man fell off one of his new routes back in 1964 on an outing with Dinger Bell in Applecross (DB had to coax him back onto the crag!)….owe my existence to a shonky peg that held. Bit of legend of Dr Patey.

Pete Ross – A short walk with Whillans,’ in Games Climbers Play, was one of the most descriptive character essays I’ve ever read. Perrin’s iteration dissected Don Whillan’s character, warts and all, but in my opinion didn’t quite capture the essence of the man. Tom Patey’s description of their aborted attempt of the Eiger North Face gave us a real insight: ‘Don’s philosophical discourses were not for the faint-hearted’. One skillfully crafted phrase gave the reader a unique insight into a flawed genius’s character. One Man’s Mountains a must read on a cold night, with a ‘dram’ close by, to experience the richness of Scottish Mountaineering literature.

George Adams – I did some winter and summer routes in the Cairngorms with Tom and Bill Brooker in the early 1950

Jim Bruce – My first climb with Tom was at the Bullers o Buchan.

Quite embarrassing really, as I picked up my spoon before his dad had said grace for the meal.

Any more comments.

Posted in Articles, History, Mountain rescue, Mountaineering, People, Recomended books and Guides, Rock Climbing, Scottish winter climbing., SMC/SMT, Views Mountaineering | Leave a comment

The Film the Dawn Wall – El Capitan an incredible story.

Last night I watched The Dawn Wall with Yvette my stepdaughter her choice it was an incredible story and to me easily as good as the recent Mountaineering film Free Solo.

The Dawn Wall is an account Of Tommy Caldwell and Kevin Jorgeson’s climb on Yosemite’s El Capitan’s incredible Dawn Wall. The film leaves you with your heart in your mouth as they both suffer near misses. It’s a very personal journey the highs and lows for both with a huge insight into climbing at an elite level. It also for me enters a personal insight for Tommy after he was taken hostage and the difficult journey he went on.

Below El
Capitan

“On January 14, 2015, Tommy Caldwell and Kevin Jorgeson topped out El Capitan’s Dawn Wall in Yosemite Valley to a circus of friends, family, and media. Their 19-day push to complete the first free ascent of the wall cfar beyond the climbing community. But the story of their cutting-edge ascent begins long before that winter, or even the seven years that Caldwell, joined later by Jorgeson, had attempted what’s considered the hardest rock climb in history. The story of the Dawn Wall is the story of Tommy Caldwell.

The Dawn Wall, the long-awaited documentary film from Red Bull Media House and Sender Films, delivers Caldwell’s story in full, from childhood to his capture by militants in Kyrgyzstan his passion for big-wall free climbing, in which equipment is used only to catch falls. Of course, highly accomplished free climber and boulderer Jorgeson plays a central role in the film as the other half of the climbing team, but The Dawn Wall focuses heavily on Caldwell, the visionary behind the climb. Through moving interviews, the film explores Caldwell’s inspiration that led to the seven-year project. But the documentary skims over his darker motivation: a deep depression that would ultimately lead him to the greatest accomplishment of his life”.

The story is an incredible one and I enjoyed it so much. I rarely watch films but this was a great choice. I saw the incredible Yosemite again where I visited and worked with the Yosemite SAR

I was there on a Rescue on El Capitan with YOSAR team in 2008. It was some place the scale of 3000 feet of pure granite was wild. I loved my month here and this film brought so many memories back.

Rescue Expert John Dill below the Wall.

It was great to see that incredible place and these cliffs again. I never climbed on El Capitan but did on Half Dome. Yosemite is place you must visit and the land of Environmentalist John Muir. I learned so much being out there and saw the wilderness of nature and how folk struggle against it. The wild life, the waterfalls, the Trees,the flowers are incredible. It is a timeless land and one I will never forget.

I visited on early spring it was amazing to see snow still high up and only a few folk about.

How lucky are we to be able to escape into another and get the highs and lows of extreme athletes in this place .

Yosemite is a special place we owe at lot to John Muir for leading the fight to keep it that way. We can look into another world of climbing on the Dawn Wall.

Please watch it it’s impressive and see what true companionship on a rope means. It’s unique as are the two climbers.

Comment

It’s a great film, heavy and every bit as good as Free Solo. To be honest, I preferred Dawn Wall since it was a much bigger picture story with lots of interest about Tommy’s life and problems he’s had to deal with/overcome. Also brought back great memories of long trips to Yosemite in the 90s to do Salathe Wall and the Nose etc. Adrian

Posted in Articles, Books, Enviroment, Expeditions - Alaska - Himalayas etc, Films, Friends, Mountain rescue, mountain safety, Mountaineering, People, Recomended books and Guides, Views Mountaineering, Wildlife | Leave a comment

Memories of Wales – The 14 peaks – grand days out on the rock and ice.

After visiting Wales on a Golfing trip last week it got me thinking of my great days on the hills and climbing in Wales. It was the late 70’s I had just come from Scotland from up in the North and completed a Winter West to East Traverse of Scotland it was a hard three weeks. I was pretty fit when arriving in Wales in these days.

The Wessex

I was coming as the full time Mountain Rescue Deputy Team Leader of RAF Valley in Anglesey. It was a big change for me and my knowledge of Wales was limited to a few Summer rock climbing courses and my Mountain Leadership Assessment In Llanwryst. Yet I loved the place and learned so much in these early years.

My young Dog born in Wales and a great companion on the hills. Teallach

In these days 1978 there was a lot of Internal rivalry between RAF Teams and coming from Scotland it was a hard gig. The troops then did a lot more rock climbing in the South and thought we in Scotland were all big walkers on snowy hills.

RAF Valley MRT

My first early weekend was the classic 14 peaks a great day then as now. Very similar to the big Scottish hill days like the Mamores. The hard thing was I was given a rope to carry and I ditched that early on. Also coming down to the main road twice was not what I expected. That was where the physiology comes in especially after Tryfan. Yet it was a great day and to be met on Drum by the late Colin Pibworth RIP a famous name in RAF MRT was magical. The early start on the Friday night Crib Goch by night and then walking most of the day. It was a wonderful day. We did great things like the Annual Snowdon Bike Race over Crib Goch for Charity when most of the Rescue Teams got involved before Health and Safety. It was so competitive as well.

The Annual Bike Race over the Snowdon Horseshoe.

I am sure I was with Stan Owen a great hill runner at the time. I did this day fairly often as it was a such a classic.

On Crib Goch Dave Booth in action.

Most of the team had it in there list to do. I remember being tired but spent next day at Tremadoc with my mate Jock climbing Merlin Direct and a few other routes I was tired. Jock said “your a Welsh troop now so you have to learn to climb. “

Yet there were other great days the Rhinogs A few miles south, however, is a pair of wild and beautiful secret gems: The Rhinogs a classic day in anyone’s book. I loved the remoteness of this area and it became a favourite. We covered the Karrimor Mountain Marathon here it was a hard day as there were a few injuries at the time. I learned lots from that weekend.

The Classic Creag Dubh Wall – Tremadoc

I got some great climbing in as we had a board in the Mountains Rescue that was in theory a guide to some of the selected climbs . These were a great idea to make you get about the area. I did all the classics in Wales in the book Classic Rock. Most were done in big boots and a rucksack scary at the time. Looking back we did Main Wall in a snowstorm and had great days in the Pass. The Llanberris Pass was always special with the steepness and famed routes but so there were so many routes. Looking back on it every day was incredible Mountaineering. We would walk one day then climb the next when the Scrambles book in North Wales came out we did many of them it was a great way of getting to know these mountains.

Tryfan became a favourite even then on the polished classics . Grooved Arête was a favourite as were many of the climbs on this wonderful face. The Milestone a place of history was one we could grab a summer climb when we had the long nights. Wales had so many places to visit I always found Craig Yr Ysfa a classic place very Scottish in atmosphere. We climbed all over and had Gogarth on our Doorstep we even did the odd Exercise here with the Coastguards. Add to that having the Wessex helicopter at RAF Valley we had a wonderful relationship with the crews.

Wales was so compact the drive from Valley in Anglesey was short and there was so much time even to climb in the long summer nights. The old classics like Lockwoods Chimney became a tradition within the team done at night it could be classic.

We learned quickly and got involved in so many Rescues as we were on scene climbing when many happend. All the time I was learning and gaining knowledge of the area. There was a great social Scene as well and we met many of the top climbers and though most of us were climbing easier routes it was incredible to see what was being climbed.

Wales worth doing Rock just a few I can remember so many more. It is all easier routes but great fun.

Classic Rock !

I loved Wales never a great climber I was lucky to be in North Wales for 3 years as the Deputy Team Leader of RAF Valley MRT. I learned so much thanks to Wee Jock, Nige Hughes and Pete Kay we had some amazing days. I was also back on many RAF Summer Course two weeks climbing in Wales teaching rock climbing. A few pals have asked me to recommend some areas and my memory is poor I have not even touched the surface can you help and add or improve this please.

Everything is in Wales and usually an easy walk in, what a great change from Scotland and if the weather is poor you can usually find dry rock somewhere. The scrambling is also exceptional and a few on their day off after 6 days climbing on our Annual Summer Course did the 14 Peaks as it was called then. The cliffs in the popular areas can be busy but we climbed a lot in the evening or when the cliffs were quiet or away early. I loved it and must get back soon. We did lots of call -outs working with the local Teams and it was a place of lots of learning. Many crag call – outs that were complicated and at night but you learned quickly.

Here is a wee guide just my thoughts can you help by adding improving?

Ogwen Valley – has always been in my mind a place to learn and some grand mountaineering routes. Idwal Slabs classic climbing a great day to start a trip in Wales combination of routes is possible to climb to the top of the crag. This can be very busy but there are so many routes and great to get multi pitch routes in with a short walk in.  The routes on the slabs are classic Hope, Tennis shoe,  Lazarus, The Arete , Grey slab a tricky VS up high all classics and you can have a great day here, easy walk in and such fun place to be.  

Idwal Slabs Big Boots on many occasions.

Tryfan – Milestone Buttress and East Face Routes – Milestone Direct a short walk from the road, it has so many situations and a climb we did so often, many before the pub or in the evening before it got busy. Soap Gut another old classic rarely done is very classic and here are other routes here with plenty of history and some great fun. Many are in Classic Rock by Ken Wilson. On the East Face of Tryfan  there are more mountain routes that finish near the summit of Tryfan  –  Gashed Crag, First Pinnacle Rib and the lovely Grooved Arete  all fairly long routes average 500 feet with Grooved Arete at 700 feet. Also Munich Climb was another we did a bit harder .There are so many climbs all classic can be polished but again superb climbing.

Those who like the walk in Craig yr Ysfa in the Carneddau with Amphitheatre Buttress and Great Gully big 750 feet climbs, very Scottish in feel. 

The Llanberris Pass a place of pilgrimage for those who love rock. Here there are great classics again a bit steeper and more serious in my view and some great climbs.

Classic Rock recommends – Nea, Crackstone Rib Wrinkle, Flying Buttress and Spiral Stairs, The Cracks on Dinas Mot and of course the Classic Cenotaph Corner, others like Cemetery Gates and the modern wild lines are impressive. There are also many steady VS routes that get you into the feel of the place. Spectre was one or am I wrong? For a mountain route Main Wall on Cairn Las is excellent and a great mountaineering expedition. We had snow on one of our ascents.

The Slate Quarries – You will love this place, in Llanberris – Bus stop Quarry was our haunt in the past – Comes the Dervish and so many others so many fun days.

The Moelwyns – A place well used by RAF MRT for leading on good rock, Slick, Slack Kirkus all about 400 feet so many climbs usually quiet and a great place to get the leading and route finding in. My mate Alaister lives below the cliff you may meet him top man.

Tremadog – Love this crag usually great when the weather is poor a crag with a café heaven. To me One step in the Clouds, Creagh Dhu  Wall, Scratch, Christmas Curry, and  Striptease so many others a majestic place.   I spent so many happy days here and Eric Jones used to run the café.

Gogarth – Sea Cliffs Abseil descent and well worth just a look is awesome, we did some lowers and training on these cliffs in my RAF Valley days.  It the Classic Dream of white Horses and so much more Lighthouse Arete a great introduction to sea cliff climbing. There is also Holyhead Mountain a grand cliff nearby with many routes worth doing.

 Memory fade again can anyone recommend me a few more climbs? A few have already.

Comments -Pete Kay – Dream, Grim Wall, Cenotaph Corner

David Tomkins –   Striptease Tremadog , Cemetery gates , Direct on Dinas Mot

Main wall Cyrn Las severe

Crackstone rib is hard to beat. Steady climbing and great situations. Pass hasn’t seemed so busy recently as it was in 80s.

Phil Williams –  Bochlwyd Eliminate, King Bee Crack, Mean Feat!

Rhoscolywn – I climbed here a few times memory fade but great sea cliffs maybe someone will remind me of the routes to advise.

Pete Kay and me after a wet day in Idwal a few years ago.

So many other place apologises for missing them can you add please cannot find my Valley photos but the memories live on.

I have so many memories and lucky to have a mate Rusty who Guides in the area maybe I will get a few climbs with him before I get to old. Rusty Bale ?

Looking back it was a grand time I was back two years ago on a wet day on Idwal Slabs with Pete Kay and Rusty Bale, we had fun. In my years in Wales we had the best winter for years and that is another story we ice climbed everywhere all over Wales and I was so lucky. Add to that the great folk and the odd big call -out we even went to Ben Lui in Scotland for a Jaguar aircraft crash in winter. We were flown up by Hercules to Prestwick. These are other tales like the Bike race over the Snowdon Horseshoe for Charity and the Forest Fires that are worth telling at a later date?

Ben Lui Valley MRT

The Valley Team and Hercules on way home from Ben Lui Call out.

Posted in Aircraft incidents, Books, Charity, Equipment, Mountaineering, Views Mountaineering, Well being | Leave a comment

What would you have done ?

This is another interesting story of a pal who was out alone in the Cairngorms Last week. He had been up on the hills for a week. He is A very fit competent Mountaineer.

Heavy,

How’s things? I saw your comment on my FB post. I won’t deny it, I was in agony but didn’t have much choice. I’ve been up in Scotland for the past week enjoying the hills and as the forecast for yesterday was quite good, I decided to go and do Bynack More then round onto Cairngorm and back to the van which was parked outside Glenmore.

Whilst running down off the summit of Bynack More I tripped and took a forward tumble landing badly on my left elbow. Straight away I knew it was bad. I’d also gashed my left knee and a scuff on my right wrist. The pain was intense and I almost threw up. Weighing up my options, I decided it was probably best to retrace my steps and walk back the way I came in, all be it the longer way. A passing walker was going to call MRT.

I told him my legs still worked and by the time anyone got to me I could have descended a fair way on my own, besides I wasn’t going to be rescued(!) so set off walking. 2 hrs later I got back down and called into Glenmore to see if there was a medical centre in Aviemore. I told them was I’d done and suspected that I’d broken my arm. When they helped me get my jacket off and saw that my left arm was badly swollen and deformed they called for an ambulance – a bit embarrassing! The outcome, I’ve fractured the ulna in my left arm and gashed my left knee.

It could have been a lot worse and typically it happened at probably the furthest point away from my van. That said, it’s the first time I’ve ever walked 7 miles with a broken arm before and it was excruciatingly painful but these things happen and I get to play another day.

How’s things with you? I spoke to Al yesterday but then offered to come up and drive my car back bless him. I’m still in the RAF, based down South at the moment.

😀

A interesting story and a hardy man. Thanks for letting me use this piece there are some interesting thoughts in it.

If you were out on your own would you be able to cope! Great effort.

Comments welcome

😀

Posted in Charity, Enviroment, Family, Friends, Local area and events to see, People, Well being | Leave a comment

One Last Climb – the incredible Eric Jones Mountaineer – Sky Diver – Adventure.

I just watched this incredible film on Catch up “The Last Climb” it was superb and a great insight into an incredible man and his life.

I was very lucky to meet Eric a lot on North Wales at his cafe at Tremadoc near the cliffs we loved climbing on when I was at RAF Valley in North Wales. Eric was already the local hero made famous for soling many of the great routes in Wales. I also attended a First Aid Course with him we had a laugh. He said he did it as a few climbers had fallen off his local cliff Tremadoc and he had looked after them. I am sure we have him an old stretcher as his wife was getting upset with climbers bleeding on her sofa.

He is most well known for the first British solo ascent of the north face of the Eiger in 1981, and for his climbs on the Matterhorn and South Col on Mount Everest.[1] In 1969, Jones ascended the Bonatti Pillar on the Dru solo,[2] and in 1971, he was the first person to climb the Central Pillar of Brouillard on the south ridge of Mont Blanc. In 1986, he became the first person to BASE jump from the Eiger.

It was a powerful film and shows that Eric is at over 80 still an incredible man. This film gives a small insight to the man. It has an incredibly moving end and I loved it. Stay well Eric and thanks for a great film and an insight into a true adventurer.

Posted in Films, Mountaineering, Music & Cinema, Rock Climbing, Views Mountaineering, Well being | 2 Comments

Soay St Kilda The Mystery of the aircraft crash

I got a email from an piece I wrote about Soay and an aircraft that crashed during the War, was there any update on my article. I have been so lucky to visit such places and St Kilda is a place so unique and its history is incredible. Yet it was the scene of lots of aircraft during the War Years who used it as a navigational point on training missions. There are several aircraft crashes on the main island. Many more were lost on route. For some years there was thought to be an aircraft crash site on the St Kilda archipelago of small Islands.

Soay (Scottish Gaelic: Soaigh) is an uninhabited islet in the St Kilda archipelago, Scotland. The name is from Old Norse Seyðoy, meaning “Island of Sheep”. The island is part of the St Kilda World Heritage Site and home to a primitive breed of sheep. It is the westernmost point in the United Kingdom, excluding Rockall

Soay lies some 40 miles (64 km) west-northwest of North Uist in the North Atlantic It is about 2 kilometres (1.2 mi) north-west of Hirta, from which it is separated by the narrow Sound of Soay, which is only about 500 metres wide. Two sea stacks, Stac Shoaigh (Soay Stac), 61 metres (200 ft), and Stac Biorach, 73 metres (240 ft), lie between. The island covers about 96.8 hectares (239 acres) and reaches a height of 378 metres (1,240 ft), the cliffs rising sheer from the sea

SOAY 2016
SOAY 1978

Soay is a 0.97 km ² large, uninhabited island in the Scottish St Kilda archipelago, the most isolated group of islands in the UK. This archipelago is located in the Atlantic  Ocean and the Outer Hebrides are adjacent.

1978 – AT THE CRASH SITE

This was the scene of an attempt by RAF Kinloss Mountain Rescue Team in 1978 to try to locate a crash site that was reputed to be on the small inaccessible Island. The team had a few epics including and overnight stay in wild weather, where tents were smashed by the winds in the exposed cliffs. The Team were tasked by the AHS (Air Historical Society) that some yachtsmen had located an aircraft crash on the Island. Some RAF EOD, the procurator Fiscal and a CID Sgt from Stornaway went along with the RAF Kinloss Team dropped of by the Sea King Helicopter. Over two years including a tented night stop when the tents were smashed wreckage was investigated but the aircraft could not be confirmned. The aircraft remains a mystery according to the RAF.

EARLY DAYS OF THE SEAKING ON SOAY

This was all done by Sea Kings helicopter and there are a few tales of these trips. You can never take the weather for granted in this area and I pray for good weather this year for me.

The islands hill on Soay is a prize Marliyn for you secret hill bashers! You will have to climb to get on the Island from the sea.

St Kilda and Rockall were all part of navigational training sorties in these days of very primitive navigational aids and many aircraft were lost in this area. St Kilda has a few aircraft wrecks on the Island and I have been so lucky to visit them on several occasions. Unfortunately Soay will not be on possible, I wonder if anyone has visited this place recently.

Keith Bryers.

Hi Heavy –” the aircraft was almost certainly Wellington Mk.VIII LA995 from 303 Ferry Training Unit, Stornoway, which was lost on 23 February 1943 with a crew of 6 whilst on a navex/fuel consumption test. The rear gunner was washed up at Europie on 2 March 1943 and is buried in Essex, the others (I have all the names) lie on the site in an unmarked grave. The wreck was known about in 1944 but wartime priorities seem to have prevented a visit to search for remains until the RAF’s visit in 1980; certainly, the wreck was reported by Morton Boyd of the Nature Conservancy Council as long ago as 1952. I visited the site in 1979. A rather foreboding location, truly ‘on the edge of the world’.” 

Keith Bryers

More info  from the blog

The aircraft could also be Wellington HX448, Lost Sep 28 1942, which also had Canadians onboard and was also in the area. The magazine After The Battle No30 has the story of the investigation conducted to find out the identity of the crashed plane on Soay, However no definitive proof (i.e id tags engine numbers etc) was found either way hence most websites giving both aircraft numbers.It would seem unlikely that further searches would be possible due to the remoteness and difficulty of access, changeable weather etc.

 Also as the wreckage or what is left is most likely to have been covered by scree falls and or rolling or being blown down the cliff The book, Aircraft Wrecks, the walkers guide is a good source of info regarding the two planes on the main island of Hirta. I have just been to the island again and hoped to have a look at the crash site on Connachair (Beaufighter) but low cloud stymied this.

From the site RAF Kinloss Archives.


The Church building on Hirta(St Kilda) has a small plaque commemorating the losses and carries the names of the casualties for the two planes on the main island, but for the Soay crash this section has been left blank of names. (until the mystery is solved?) It would be great to see another trip with the modern investigation techniques to prove which aircraft it was finally I have asked before but got no joy. It would be a wonderful tribute to those who died.

The Memorail in St Kilda The Soay crash names not there.
Posted in Aircraft incidents, Mountaineering, Other hills Grahams & Donalds | 4 Comments

Ruadh – Stac Beag

Ruadh-stac Beag the wonderful Beinn Eighe Torridon outlier.

The great domed Corbett of Ruadh-stac Beag is separated from the main Beinn Eighe ridge; it has considerable defences on most sides and access is usually via the screes of its southern flank. It makes a fine walk through stunning scenery – and could be combined with the ascent of Meall a’ Ghiubhais. From Walk Highlands

Ruadh – Stac Beag

This was planned to be my last Corbett but after hearing from a few folk who said it’s a long day I decided it would not be ideal. It’s a hard Corbett by any means. I have only three left and want to invite a few special folk to my final one. This will be next year as two special folk are recovering from illness.

The wonderful walk in from the pony track that starts near the Aultroy visitor Centre of the Beinn Eighe National Nature Reserve.

Meall a’ Ghuibhais another great Corbett. The Pony track is a great way in to this wilderness.

I left fairly early as the forecast was looking good. I was on my own and have wanted to climb this hill for many years. This mountain is an outlier of the complex mountain of Beinn Eighe with its myriad of summits. Few venture into this side chasing the two Munro’s and missing so much?

The inner Corrie of the Black Carl’s lots of scope for winter. Few see this side.
The great dome of Ruadh Stac Beag and the hidden Corrie’s.

Parking is easy at the You leave the path and I headed into some wild country it’s very rocky and you have to take care as you round Creag Dhubh the vastness of this place is incredible.

The burn sparkling on the sun this
Is an incredible place to be.

I had planned a scramble up the slab on my hill. Yet on my own I felt that it was not right and looking at it I had been up there before. Yes again The memory plays with you in these days the Corbett’s were just another hill an adventure to get to know this area for Rescues.

I would take the young team members into these places. Often we would get dropped by helicopter on a search in bad weather and this hill knowledge was invaluable. I saw no one at all all day till on my way home. There is no phone service round here once in these mountains . Yet the solitude is peaceful as are the views of Slioch and the Fisherfield hills are incredible .

Looking back

The water was sparkling clear water on the Quartzite rocks add to the beauty.

This is not the place to have an accident so I was careful all day but just enjoyed the weather. I love walking alone I always say where I am going and when I am off it’s simple to sort out. I can stop when I want and have no time limits my days of rushing round the hills are long gone. The quartzite of this area allows so many plants to flourish and though late in the year there are still many about. This area is especially good for Juniper and rarely have I seen so many mini junipers about.

It was perfect for walking and as I picked my way up to the beleach the mountain is an incredible amount of scree and tottering cliffs. Yet in there own way they are so beautiful and I love hugging the corrie Rim and seeing them and there crazy shapes.

The view up to the beleach.

The path is vague even on the ridge and lots of loose scree And blocks but the views are incredible as you climb.

Shattered pinnacles and scree.

It was hard work yet as you climb you could see the Munro’s on Beinn Eighe and the outlying cliffs. I could see folks on the summits possibly of my own club who are in Torridon for the weekend.

The Munro summit of Ruadh Stac Mhor – with the hidden cliffs of a route I climbed many years ago – Thin Mans Ridge !

Once on summit is very flat and I made my way along to the Cairn in the sun. I could see the sea and for miles.

It was warm and I had my lunch and saw More folk on the main ridge. I could have slept up here it was such a grand day but wanted to get down the loose screes and the burn.

Near the summit of Ruadh Stac Beag any idea what it is for there were two of them ! From Eoghain Maclean Fixed points photography points. I put them in 20 plus years ago 😀well spotted Heavy. Just off the summit I saw these two objects?

I headed down taking care it was steep and loose. It was a good decision not to not leave this hill to my last one. Yet again the views were stunning all round vistas of the sea to Gairloch and Loch Maree.

Coming down the ridge.

I was glad to be back down safely and headed back higher up on the moraine on the way I came in seeing the incredible cliffs close up of the Black Carl’s.

The descent and a well earned drink .

I was soon on the path after a long walk across the screes. I still had not met anyone and I was back on the pony track. Slioch was back in view as was the massive Waterfall near it. I stopped again and took of my top to enjoy the sun.

Here I met a few folk and was soon back at the car. It was then I noticed my phone was missing I headed back up the hill I had an idea that I had put it down at my last stop. The round boulder where I had a drink and a short break. It was hard going back up but I met Ian and Lorraine from Muir of Ord who had found it. They had just done the same hill as me yet we had seen no signs of each other. They were a lovely couple and would not take a reward so we wandered down the hill. Good Karma to them. I stopped in at the Visitor Centre to tell them I had located my phone.

What a day I headed home after a superb few hours that I will never forget. This is what it’s all about for me. How lucky am I ?

Posted in Corbetts, Corbetts and other hills, Enviroment, Local area and events to see, Mountain rescue, mountain safety, Munros, People, Plants, Scottish winter climbing., Views Mountaineering, Weather, Wildlife | Leave a comment

My local hill Ben Rinnes

Two pals are of on a walking holiday and we had a wander on our local Corbett yesterday. The forecast was for rain at midday. We drove through whisky country it was still dry and parked at the Distillery below the hill.

Ben Rinnes.

We had not been up this way for a while so it would be a change from going up
the busier route from the other side.

Parking was easy and it’s only about 45 minutes drive from home. We follow the hill track from the Distillery. In the past I have been this way and it was always wet. Today the track was a bit worn and there were lots of shooting butts on the hill. Sadly no sign of wild life. The track is getting eroded by the weather but helps you get onto the ridge.

A warm start very close.

This is a quieter way to climb this hill and you pass the Scurrans Cairngorm granite tor’s that always are a place to stop. Before that the path heads on to the ridge it’s pretty wet here. It was today and muddy. The summit has the great name Scurran Of Lochterlandloch and the name Scurran (is applied to the other two tors on this magic wee hill. Many thanks for reminding me of this Donald Watt and Hamish Brown!  Hamish Brown’s Mountain Walk and Climbing the Corbett’s is a great book for information on the hills in Scotland.

The weather still held and it was good to get a wind on the ridge. The Scurrans dominate in a land of Wind Farms and the beautiful fields of Moray in late summer. The mist came and went and we followed the main track to the summit where we met a few souls.

We had a break here the Granite Tor’s are incredible I have camped here many years ago in winter. They were then covered in snow and they look wild.

The Scurrans

From here the rain came in and we wandered along to the summit. The trig point has been painted and looks great thanks to Eric Grant that was a labour of love.

Ella on top with the refurbished Trig Point..

The old Trig Point – now sorted out thank you.

There were a few others on the summit we had a bleather. We came back the same way as it was raining but it stopped and the mist lifted we were back in the views again and the sun.

It was then head back to car and stop for tea at the Steam Railway station at Dufftown for some tea and a sausage roll. Cracking day out thanks ladies.

The Cafe.

Ben Rinnes was the scene of a terrible plane crash on 14th November 1943.
A Wellington Bomber HF746 of No20 Operational Training Unit, based at Lossiemouth, crashed into Ben Rinnes whilst on a navigational exercise.
A former member of the ground crew who went to the site on the hill shortly after the crash described it as “the most complete burn-out he had ever seen”.

Crash site References

250 metres downhill from summit

Rinnes W1 – NJ  25627/35634 – 783 Metres

Rinnes W2  – NJ  2562335664 –  774 Metres

Rinnes W3 –  NJ 2563435696 – 761 Metres

Rinnes W4 – NJ 2565035718 – 747 Metres

Rinnes W5 – NJ 25695 –  694 Metres

Ben Rinnes a grand wee hill it always allows you a fun day, no views today from the summit but great company.



Ben Rinnes Wreckage.
Posted in Corbetts, Mountaineering, Views Mountaineering, Weather | Leave a comment

Ben A Bhuird the Oxford Crash Ben Avon and other tales.

The Last Flight. Lost then Found

This great mountain along with Beinn Avon is one we climbed on a lot in summer and winter, I got to know it during 1973 when we completed a winter foray in February with the Kinloss Mountain Rescue Team. Teuch Brewer was training for an Arctic Expedition and we set of after work. He was a “man mountain” and it was a wild adventure navigating in wild weather and staying two nights out.

We carried a tent which meant huge bags and walked in at night after a long days work. We climbed 6 Munros that weekend heading back to Cairngorm for a lift home, it was a place I was to visit often. I then used this area a lot when I was posted to RAF Buchan on the North East Coast and formed a small mountaineering club. We got the offer of training with the new Sea Kings at Lossiemouth this was 1978 and we were dropped of on the summit and then did a long winter route. We got back to Invercauld just as the Kinloss Team were going to come out and look for us. It was -20 that night one of the party got frostbite and we did not realise how deep the snow was in the Glens. We were lucky it was a clear night with little wind but what a day. Over the years I rock climbed here there are Classic rock routes like Squareface and Mitre Ridge in the An Garbh Corrie of Ben a’ Bhuird. To climb on Squareface as the sun hits it is some experience after scrambling down a gully still holding snow in mid summer. These are days you never forget or the Wessex Helicopter offering you a lift home from the summit. In these days in summer we could drive onto the plateau ( not very environmentally friendly) and descend into the Corrie. Squareface was one of Tom Pateys hidden jewels first climbed in 1953 with J.m.Taylor.

Squareface

We did winter lowers here what a situation and a few searches once unable to find the wagon in a white out. I was lucky to climb these these great routes often and meeting few folk but what a wonderful place to climb. In winter few venture but there are some incredible lines and climbs.

Techniques on the plateau!

Even with a mountain Bike its a hard place to get to. On the plateau there is no shelter and the winds are fierce it can be a real battle getting home in winter. It was also the place of the longest Avalanche burial at the time where on Dec 1928 party of 4 avalanched on two fatalities and one found alive after a 22 hour burial. A Chance in a Million? Scottish Avalanches Bob Barton & Blyth Wright. Well worth a read.

The Oxford.

On January 10th 1945 at 1045 hrs, Oxford PH404 took off from RAF Tain on the North East coast of Scotland bound for RAF Hornchurch near London. The weather in Tain at that time was reported to have been good with blue sky, no clouds and no wind. However, the met forecast was apparently for adverse weather. Onboard the aircraft were five airmen from 311 (Czech) Squadron which was based at Tain, four Pilots and a Wireless Operator/Air Gunner.

Squadron Leader Karel Kvapil – Pilot
Flying Officer Leo Linhart – Pilot
Flying Officer Jan Vella – Pilot
Flying Officer Valter Kauders – Wireless Operator/Air Gunner
Warrant Officer Rudolph Jelen – Pilot

The flight was not an operational one. It is believed that F/O Jan Vella was travelling to London to receive his DFC award, F/O Linhart, S/Ldr Kvapil and F/O Kauders are believed to have been taking some leave, and W/O Jelen was detailed to return the aircraft from RAF Hornchurch to RAF Tain.

The aircraft failed to arrive at RAF Hornchurch, and no record could be found of it having landed at any other airbase. It was believed that Oxford PH404 must have crashed in the sea since no trace of any wreckage had been reported.

It was not until August 19th 1945, that the fate of Oxford PH404 and her crew was finally known when the wreckage was discovered by two hill walkers.

The hill walkers that discovered the wreckage
Dr James Bain F/L Archie Pennie

The men who unwittingly found the aircraft were Dr James Bain, a teacher in Elgin, and Flight Lieutenant Archie Pennie who was in the RAF but who was at the time taking a few days leave at his of the wreck of the Oxford PH404, and alarmingly the bodies of five airmen.mothers in Elgin. Long-time friends and both keen hill walkers, they had decided to spend their Sunday climbing two mountains in the Cairngorms, namely Beinn a Bhuird (3924 ft / 1196 m) and neighbouring Ben Avon (3843 ft / 1171 m).

Oxford Ben a’ Bhuird engines.

They set out at mid morning from Inchrory, and on approaching the summit of Beinn a Bhuird they found some aircraft debris and soon afterwards part of a wing. Finally, they discovered the remains

The cockpit and tail section were reasonably intact. The engines were relatively undamaged, perhaps because the aircraft had fallen on snow. The yellow paint work on the aircraft suggested to Archie Pennie that it had been a training aircraft. The bodies of two airmen were located in the cockpit, two others lay outside amongst the debris. The saddest discovery of all was that of the body of the fifth airman. It was found inside the remains of the fuselage and it was clear that he had initially survived the crash. He was wearing several layers of clothing that he must have removed from his dead crewmates in an effort to combat the cold. He appeared to have suffered a serious head injury and had made himself a make-shift bandage for his head wound using a towel.

It was clear to Dr Bain and Flt Lt Pennie that the crash had occurred some months previously owing to the condition of the bodies. They made a note of the aircrafts number and location and after descending the mountain went to Tomintoul and reported their discovery to the local police. They also reported the details to the local police in Elgin when they returned home.

The following day, Monday 20th August, a recovery team including Police Officers and members of the RAF Mountain Rescue Team from RAF Dyce made their way from Tomintoul towards Beinn a Bhuird to attempt a recovery of the airmen. Local assistance in locating the crash site was provided by Captain D McNiven, proprietor of the Richmond Arms in Tomintoul, and Mr William Stewart, a farmer from Clashnoir, Glenlivet.

A base for the recovery operation was set up near Inchrory. The Ambulance and transport wagons also waited at Inchrory as they were unable to travel any nearer the mountain due to the rough terrain.

By Monday night the recovery team on the mountain had removed the bodies from the wreckage and made efforts to prepare them for removal down the mountain. It was not possible to further progress with the recovery that night, and indeed some of the recovery team were in doubt as to whether it would be possible to remove the bodies down the mountain at all. They returned to the base near Inchrory to report on their difficulties and the NCO in charge of the party departed for RAF Dyce to inform them of the situation and to enquire about the possibility of burying the airmen on the mountain. However, the RAF authorities refused to permit a burial on the mountain and ordered that the bodies be brought down.

To assist in bringing the bodies down mules from an Indian regiment based at Braemar were transported by road to Inchrory. It took ten days to complete the recovery operation with the recovery team working in a very remote location on steep, uneven and boulder strewn ground.

The Mountain Rescue Team burnt the remains of the wreckage at the crash site to avoid it being mistaken for any other lost aircraft in the future. Only the engines and a few other small parts of the aircraft were not burnt. It was a gruelling operation for all the men involved.

The bodies of the five airmen recovered from Oxford PH404 were taken by road to an Aberdeen mortuary and placed in coffins. From here they were taken by train to Brookwood Military Cemetery near Woking in Surrey. They were buried there on September 3rd 1945 in the Czechoslovak section of the cemetery.

Acknowledgements: My thanks to Jim Hughes in Scotland, Pavel Vancata in the Czech Republic and Archie Pennie in Canada.

Posted in Aircraft incidents, Books, Mountaineering, Munros, People, Recomended books and Guides, SAR, Views Mountaineering, Weather, Wildlife | 1 Comment

The nights are drawing in. Are you ready?

The nights are getting darker, winter is coming and I was checking my torch, sadly it was not working after a dormant summer. As always summer has seen so many out travelling light and enjoying the hills in the the longer days.

The shorter daylight of the onset of winter means shorter day on the hill or coming off in the dark.

You will be reading in the media soon that a few will get caught out with no head-torches it happens every year.

So when did you last check your torch and batteries?

Get it out and check. It is also worth looking at your route and remembering that if you plan a 10 hour day you have the possiblilty of walking of in the dark.

Top tip

Get out early and make the most of the natural light.

Walking at night is very different and worth practicing , have you done this yet. Its a good skill to have? You do not want to be on the tops in the dark unless you have to.

Plan your day. What speed do you walk at night compared with the daytime.

You may find a big difference? If you wear glasses on the hill its not easy to read a map in dark, I always expand my map by blowing up the scale on the computer . This is so that I can see the contours easily. My phone lets me do this as well and I have a screenshot ready in case I need it.

If using your phone have a spare battery and cable and always carry a map and compass.

A phone is not a substitute for a torch!

A few tips, but the best advice is to get out and practise in the dark and this can be done anywhere.

Far better to learn or check out your skills in a safe area than on the Ben in the dark in bad weather.

The view at night with no torch!

From Tilly lamps to head – torches.

It is hard to believe that on one of my early call outs in 1974 in March on Ben Nevis I was on a tragic search at night for a young couple who had wandered into 5 Finger Gully on Ben Nevis. I was given a tilly lamp to search with and was in the Gully when a then well-known Lochaber Team Member Willie Anderson who saw it took it off me as I was really struggling on the steep ground. Willie threw it away. I was worried about how I would explain that to my Team Leader? I have been there on several other occasions in 5 finger Gully and never found it and apologise for leaving litter on the hill. I wonder what future Mountaineering archaeologists will make of a Tilly in 5 finger gully. After that I purchased a decent head torch as the issue one was pretty poor. In Mountain Rescue you do a lot of Rescues and train at night a head torch is essential and there have been a few disasters on this piece of gear over the years.

At RAF Valley in North Wales during a time when money was tight late 70’s MOD in its wisdom bought cheap batteries for our head torches that fell apart on a night rescue high on the Idwal Slabs. I was the Deputy Team Leader at the time and sent of a powerful signal to the powers that be about the procurement of such rubbish. That was the last signal I was to send for a time as it ruffled so many in the Supply Branch at the time but we got descent batteries after that.

The marvellous improvement in head torches and lighting for personal and Rescue use is incredible.

Tales of climbers climbing in a wild winter night with a torch in their teeth as they climbed some of the big routes in the ebbing light and moonlight are legend. After seeing the recent pictures of Skye Mountain Rescue Team on call outs recently with their powerful headlights is a huge improvement from the early days.

Each rescuer is in their own world of snow and a pool of light it is surreal and impressive. I try to keep up with all the changes and the costs of some of these head torches are incredible some are over £300. I have tried so many the famous “Sharks Eye” with 6 heavy batteries that lasted about 2 hours was amazing but it was hand held and not much use when searching very steep ground.

We also did some test with Hamish MacInnes and a huge Military Searchlight in Glencoe millions of Candle power how many remember that night?

Top tip:

A head torch is a vital addition to a winter hill bag and I always carry a spare so often I have had to give mine away. This was often to some person who does not carry one or has not checked it for some time and the batteries are flat. Always check your head torch and ensure it is working.

Try walking at night and see how tricky it is, imagine that without one?

Top Tip: In winter I always carry two after lending mine out on rescues and never seeing them again.

I repeat:

Your phone is NOT A HEAD TORCH.

A few tips again:

check that torch, maybe buy a spare and batteries and have look at the map and your route, get away early and practice your skills no matter who or how experienced you are.

Posted in Articles, mountain safety, Views Mountaineering, Weather | Leave a comment

One of those special days on Beinn Eighe in Torridon.Watching Eagles soar.

Yesterday it was an early start for some filming for Channel 5 for a tv program on the Famous Lancaster aircraft. In March 1951 a Lancaster crashed in Beinn Eighe in Torridon just below the main ridge sadly killing all 8 crew. It took 3 months to recover all the crew such was the snow and ground the aircraft crashed on.

The RAF Kinloss Team In 1951 photo
Joss Gosling

The RAF Mountain Rescue Team who were poorly equipped and trained learned so much from this tragedy. I have written about this in this in my Blog on several occasions.

The crew Rowan Graham Ian and Andy

Involved in the aircraft recovery was a Young Joss Gosling a National Serviceman who took incredible photos of the incident, it showed the awful winter weather conditions and their basic gear. Joss became a lifelong friend and only recently passed away, he gave me a unique insight into what happened and the effect the trauma had on him and his teammates.

It’s a long walk in To the crash site about 3 and a half hours and Andy who was filming needed a hand with gear. I asked Torridon MRT to help and Graham and his son came along as Sherpas. The team got a donation from Channel 5.

Joss’s son Ian came along to tell his Dads tale so all we needed was good weather.

The Cathedral that is Corrie Mhic Fhericier

Andy had contacted me and we hatched a plan we got a weather window. It’s a long walk in and so we met at 0830 it was windy so no midges.

We did a bit of sorting out and filming in the car park and set off up the path. We stopped on route on a few places as I told the story and the then the wind dropped. It was wonderful walking great company and Andy doing the filming was at the top of his game.

Normally it’s hard work filming but he cracked it. Folk never realise how long things take but Andy was impressive.

I love this place these Torridon mountains mean so much to me and your view is always while walking of Liathach and it’s incredible cliffs.

You then walk round the back of Beinn Eighe into another world of lochans and Morain hillocks with views of the sea and Loch Maree.

To me this is God’s country my heart loves this place and today on a Bank holiday we met only three others. The space and wildness is exceptional to me this is as near to heaven as you get.

You round the hillside and see today the waterfall glistening in the sun meets you.

Andy had permission to use his drone and he brought it out and it was flown giving incredible footage of the area .

The sky was incredible and the light perfect shadows on the cliffs enhanced the features we sat and enjoyed this piece of heaven while he got about his filming. Then we saw a few feet below the great Buttress enjoying the grass not bothered that we were there.

From here it was a pull up to the Loch, Andy had never seen it before and this place is majestic.

It is a Cathedral of nature with the Loch it’s colours the Sky and the huge cliffs all enclosed in a mighty Corrie. The sun was wonderful warming and here we had lunch among the boulders by the loch. I could have stayed all day. This is a place in any weather of incredible beauty and in winter even getting here in deep snow is a journey.

We wandered round the loch and I showed Andy in the distance some wreckage. We did another interview then at the end of the loch headed up the hill.

One of the 4 Merlin Engines

Andy was amazed by the wreckage still left a tyre , engines and a wing. So much wreckage I had been here on many occasions but it always had a huge effect on me. 8 young men died here it is a solemn place to me and others. Further up there is a propellor where we renewed the plaque last year. It was done with the help of Joss’s family and Geoff a relative of one of the crew who died in the crash. The RAF Lossiemouth MRT put it on an made a great job of it.

It is made of slate and we put it up this year it was looking great and here we stopped and did some more interviewing and filming.

This is a fitting tribute to these young men .

After that Andy did some more filming and then we had a good break sitting in the sun. I doubt I have in my 50 years on the hills had such a great day.

Could it get better and then above us we saw two young eagles soaring in the thermals. We watched this in awe they were so graceful and in this amphitheatre it was a joy to behold.

I believe in good Karma and to me this was Joss my pal watching over us ensuring we told our story. It was so powerful and when you see wildlife in this habitat it’s so hard to explain the beauty of nature .

Andy Filming Ian.

We finished of the filming put the cameras away and Graham and Rowan who had been so good packed them away. There patience was so good and I cannot thank them enough.

We refilled our water bottles at the burn had a last look round and headed home.

We did not hang about on the path the weather was changing yet we still enjoyed the views but moving well down the path. The skies were darkening but the we saw the hills in a different light.

It’s was hard going and yet we made great progress back to car park for just after 1730 meeting a pal in the car park. He had a great day as well on the tops.

The local Stag in the car park

We sorted the gear and said our goodbyes. I think Andy got some great footage He seemed pleased and it was a great day.

The program should come out next year I will update when I hear. I then headed to see my pal Kalie her sister Wendy and a pal Sarah from America. Kalie lives near Applecross it was a busy drive as this road is on the NC 500 with camper vans and lots of motorbikes on the single track road. . I was treated to a great meal of salmon after a wonderful Hill day superb company and I laughed all night.

I stayed the night that was planned we sorted out the World and I head home today.

This was an incredible day thanks to Graham and Rowan from Torridon MRT . Ian Joss’s son and Andy who did all the hard work filming.

The stars to me where the Eagles who showed us what wildlife is about.

Also Kalie, Wendy and Sarah who laughed at my jokes and made this day so wonderful.

This was some day and one that I will never forget.

Dedicated to the crew of the Lancaster that crashed on Beinn Eighe and to Joss Gosling and the RAF Mountain Rescue team who in 1951 did there best.

“They soared like Eagles”

Posted in Articles, Charity, Enviroment, Films, Friends, Mountain rescue, Mountaineering, Munros, Other hills Grahams & Donalds, People, Poems, Rock Climbing, Scottish winter climbing., Views Mountaineering, Weather, Well being, Wildlife | 4 Comments

The famous Bull Call – out on the 5 Sisters of Kintail – George the Bull.

Getting the Bull Of the hill on the 5 Sisters of Kintail – The Saddle in the distance.

Looking back it good to have a laugh at some of the things that happend. In the early 70’s the team received a call from the Skye Police that walkers had reported a Bull on the summit ridge of the 5 Sisters. It was not a happy Bull and walkers had to avoid it by a detour on the ridge. They reported it to the local Police and they called the RAF Kinloss Mountain Rescue team who thought at the time it was a joke but it was a real request for help. A party was sent up and located the Bull on the ridge ( not difficult). I wonder how they got it to start coming down. The story we were told it had been frightened by a car on the main road and bolted up the hill become one of the first Bulls at a Munro summit.

I wonder how many have done that? I wonder how Health and Safety and the Risk Assessments would be for this incident today?

Not a great photo but the Bull descending back to the lower ground. The hills were safe again.


It was one of the lighter moments in Mountain Rescue and must have been a big talking point at the time. I wonder if any of the Kintail Mountain Rescue Team know the story?

The Five Sisters of Kintail

A classic ridge walk taking in three Munros, the Five Sisters give a wonderful days excursion with magnificent views.

Terrain

The going is very steep on ascent; there is a little scrambling along the ridge itself and much rocky ground.

Comments welcome.

The crazy rescue of George the Bull Rescue

George was reluctant to co – operate and rope was eventually secured round his horns. After 4 hours of gentle exertion he persuaded to descend 1000 ft. However by this time he was showing signs of peevishness and had made several charges at his would be rescuers. They were somewhat relieved when at this stage his owners took over and managed to coax him down to their farms and his girlfriends.

From Alan Boulton via my blog

“I arrived in Kintail in 78 as the NTS ranger and this story was still fresh. My recollection was that this was a dept of Agriculture bull on loan and you saved the crofters the embarrassment of explaining that they couldn’t return the bull because he wouldn’t come down from the top of a Munro.”

From Wullie Fraser Kintail MRT

“Yes…thankfully a bit before my time….but recollect Dolan Macmillan and John Ross embellishing the incident on numerous occasions.

Oh what fun we had before the days of risk assessment.”

I wonder what the Risk Assessment would be of this rescue? Is it in the Mountain Leadership Syllabus and does it classify as “Objective Dangers in Mountaineering” 

Sgùrr na Ciste Duibhe reaches a height of 1027 metres (3369 feet) making it Munro number 104 in terms of height.] It is one of three Munros which make up the famous Five Sisters of Kintail group of hills (the others being Sgùrr Fhuaran and Sgùrr na Càrnach) and is often climbed as part of the walk which takes in the full Five Sisters ridge. The mountain is not particularly photogenic and it is difficult to get a good impression of it from the A87 because of the steepness of its slopes as they fall into Glen Shiel.

The hill’s Gaelic name translates as the Peak of the Black Chest or Coffin. The meaning of the name is unsure but it is thought to refer to an unusual deep rocky hollow near the summit which lies between the main ridge and a false crest. This can be dangerous in mist or snow conditions. Other sources say that the name refers to the deep hollow of the Allt Dearg on the hills south west slope.[4] The mountain should not be confused with another Munro called Ciste Dhubh which lies just 7 km to the east. It may never be the same after this incident!

Comment from Gordon Binnie :

Opening a cows airway en route to a search area. It had fallen into a ditch and was struggling to breathe. With the legendary Mick Tighe and Kenny Harris Oban Mountain Rescue Team

Mick Tighe and Kenny Harris

From Gordon Binnie

Posted in Articles, mountain safety, Munros, People, Views Mountaineering, Wildlife | Leave a comment

Stag Rocks – “Final Selection” a three star classic diff a day with pals. The St Valery Refuge a Cairngorm lost shelter.

I had wanted to do this short climb for many years; sadly for some reason when I climbed at bit I had missed it always climbing the nearby Afterthought Arete and a few others climbs many years ago. We had spoken to several pals about this climb and though a short Diff of 60 meters it has 3 stars in the Guide. Pete and Dan were keen and Pete had done it beforeand raved about it. All we needed was some good weather. The situation high above Loch Avon is wonderful and all the pictures I had seen made it look impressive. It’s a steep slab on Cairngorm Granite on big holds and last year we had a good look at it after a day on Afterthought Arete.

The views of Loch Avon the great glaciated slabs, the waterfall and Hells Lum Crag was looking very wet and the nearby hills these big Munro’s make this special. It is a place to cherish and we all have so many memories of these cliffs.

Walking to the cliff with Ben MacDui in the background.

Two years later we set out in a not to great forecast with this summer’s usual rain forecast and not to warm temperatures. They were forecasting frost that night on the plateau. We set off a bit later with Dan driving and managed to meet pals in Boat of Garten where we stopped for a brew caught up with Fiona and Mick Morris and Mull the black lab then headed off. It was late about 1130 when we got to the Cairngorm Car Park. It was busy so we paided our dues and headed of up the hill. Pete and Dan chatting on the way up to spot height 1141 me coughing as this bronchitis is still with me especially when going uphill.

It was a lovely day a few midges in the car park but once onto the plateau we headed round and a breeze we lost them heading for Stag rocks. It’s a bonnie place and off the path hard to believe you are up in an artic environment. We were soon at the top of the cliff and the guide says you can descend the gully but to me it looked wet and loose. We headed for the top of our route had some lunch and then abseiled down into gully.

On the way down I spotted an abseil on the West side that would have been a bit easier. Our double ropes got us down and it’s amazing how out of practice you are if you have not climbed or abseiled for a while.

The Abseil in.

Down in the Gully below out route the midges were out in the Gully Dan had his Midgy net me and Pete suffered. We had left ours with the bags. The first short step onto the route was wet and slippy but after that it was superb climbing.

The damp start with the route above.

Dan ran out the rope to a huge belay and Just when he was on the main slab a jet flew past at our eye level what a noise it was. In the Gully it was at our height and scared me and Pete. The Corrie rebounded with the noise echoing round then his mate flew by at first we thought it was thunder. I forget what a noise they make. This was “Thunder in the Glens “ Which is on in Aviemore this weekend.

The only folk we saw opposite us.

Then we saw another pair of climbers on a route opposite the only folk we saw all day. Dan was soon belayed and we followed. I took lots of photos once away from the midges and it is a superb line. There was great gear but in places the rounded Cairngorm granite makes you think at times.

Dan up there.

Once on the belay we were away from the midges In the breeze and enjoyed the views. We could now see even more the sandy beach at Loch Avon looked magical and then we had a we shower of rain that lasted a few minutes.

The final scramble.

We were soon on the last short climb of our and back at the bags. We had a break put the gear away and sat for a few minutes. It’s a place to sit and enjoy. We then set off back not far from our route heading back is the plaque to the St Valery bothy on the small granite boulder. I have memories of the wee bothy that used to be here and the granite plaque could do with a clean. I must come back and do that one day.

It’s a place I have used to take folk navigating and can be interesting finding it. Then we headed back me a bit behind then another short shower came in but went very quickly. We saw the Reindeer at the shoulder of Cairngorm.

The Yellow man on the route.

It also got me remembering the St Valery bothy that was on the cliffs above Stag Rocks above Loch Avon. The bothy was built-in 1962 and was used mainly by climbers on the nearby Loch Avon Cliffs. It was a small bothy very like El Alamein made of local stone and turf with a few pieces of framework to build the basic structure.

It was taken down after the Cairngorm Disaster in 1971 and was a real difficult time with various organisation’s who were for keeping the high Cairngorm bothys and others who wanted them taken down including Mountain Rescue Teams, the Police and the public.

It was a huge time of upset for many; It was not sorted out till 1975 when the Curran and the St Valery were taken down after a huge discussion and several years of difficult negotiations by all concerned.

  John Duff the Ex – Team Leader of Braemar Mountain Rescue Team tells his account in a wonderful book ” A Bobby On Ben MacDui” This book tells  much of the politics of this sad period after the tragedy.

St Valery Refuge now gone.

The St Valery Refuge was above the Stag Rocks Grid reference NJ 002023. There are many tales of epics on Rescues trying to find the hut which in wild weather was never easy. On a great day it was a marvellous location but it was incredibly exposed and very near the cliff edge in the days before GPS and other navigational aids.

St Valery granite in need of a clean.

In 1971 Bill March & Chris Norris were to search the St Valery Refuge on night of the Cairngorm Disaster and though great mountaineers failed to find it spending the night at the Shelterstone with Alan Fyfe and Reg Popham who were searching another area. This is how difficult an area it was in and so tricky to find. I was on one search A few years later just before the bothy was knocked down. We were told that there was no room for us on a wild night by some ensconced famous climbers. It was not at all a diplomatic discussion that occurred. Yet we soon got in and shivered the night away. I remember nearly being blown away as we left in the morning, the wind was incredible.

The bothy was very near the cliff edge and in a wind and whiteout it could be a wild place to be.

St Valery bothy was removed with help from the Royal Navy, Police and Mountaineering Council Of Scotland in 1975 and still those who used it or were involved in the debate have differing views. The engraved stone with the name was still there as the only remaining piece of the remains of the bothy left. Aug 2019.

Any stories and photos would be greatly appreciated.

Pete and Dan

We were soon heading home another shower and then back to 1141 that place that means so much. How many times have I been glad to see it.

Here we had a wee stop then head down the ridge through the Ski Centre back to the crowds. It was great to get back to the car, the midges met us again and then the drive home. There were superb rainbows just near the Dava Moor and I was back just before 1900 pretty tired but what a fun day. We had missed the heavy rain and it was warm and so good to be away from the crowds. Thanks to Dan and Pete and of course the Cairngorms for an amazing wee climb in an incredible situation.

At 1141
Thanks

The older you get the more you appreciate this place and places like it. How had I missed this wee gem for all those years but how good to go and climb again even on an easy route on amazing rock.

Today’s tip – always check each other before you abseil or climb it easy to make a mistake no matter how experienced you think you are.      

 Stag Rock – Crag features

This is the large collection of cliffs on the north side of Loch Avon between Coire Raibert and Coire Domhain. The cliffs face south and can be a real suntrap allowing for rock routes to be done both early and late in the year. This does pose obvious problems for some of the winter routes but there are some good lines which have a very different feel to the nearby norrie (Northern Corries.)

Approach notes

Approach to the crag is usually via the Goat Track or 1141. Descent to the base can be done via Coire Domhain, Y gully, Diagonal Gully or Coire Raibert. There is an abseil  point into Diagonal gully a little way down from the plateau on the gully’s west side which gives access to the routes around Final Selection.

2019 Aug – We abseiled in from the other side down the route as I did not fancy the wet loose gully.

Posted in Friends, Gear, mountain safety, Mountaineering, Munros, Recomended books and Guides, Rock Climbing, Views Mountaineering, Weather, Well being, Wildlife | 5 Comments

Moonwalker 2020 Calendar all profits to Scottish Mountain Rescue.

Moonwalker 2020 calendar is now available!

Still only £5 each and ALL profits go to Scottish Mountain Rescue.

Last year raised nearly £600 – buy now at munromoonwalker.com/shop_online.

Its a great Calendar. Get it now for all those who live abroad and miss our great hills.

Posted in Articles, Charity, Munros | Leave a comment

Corbett’s for Courses thanks to all.

From the Corbett to Courses Facebook page

“Hi all

Big thank you for all your fund raising efforts.

The preliminary total figure for Corbetts for Courses is £1052.07 which will pay for 26 places on navigation and winter skills courses.

If anyone still wishes to make a donation you can do so through our Paypal GIving Fund page at [https://www.paypal.com/uk/fundraiser/charity/3513638](https://www.paypal.com/uk/fundraiser/charity/3513638).

If you donate £25 or more you are welcome to claim a free Mountain Aid buff, email us at corbetts4courses@gmail.com with your details.”

There are still a few to climb so have look and let’s get them finished.

If you managed to climb a few if you can donate it’s a great cause.

Posted in Articles, Charity, Corbetts, Corbetts and other hills, Friends, Views Mountaineering, Well being | 4 Comments

Corbett’s for Courses. Mountain Aid can you help ?

This is the latest from

Karlin Herwig on Facebook for Mountain Aid .

Corbetts for Courses

Mountain Aid: the hill walkers’ charity, is excited to announce our May 2019 fundraising initiative Corbetts for Courses.

For a day Mountain Aid want to encourage hill-goers to become Corbett Connoisseurs and raise valuable funds to ensure Mountain Aid can continue to offer free skills training and safety lectures.

To get involved:

  • Join the Mountain Aid CorbettsForCourses Facebook group (or use the contact form below)
  • Choose a Corbett (there’s 222 of them)
  • Post your chosen Corbett to the Facebook group (or contact us)
  • Climb your Corbett during May – July and share your summit photo to the group (or email it to us and we will post it for you)
  • Make a donation to Mountain Aid (£10 is suggested but please give what you can).

With your help we hope to put someone on the summit of every Corbett during the month of May.

Of course, the same Corbett can be climbed by several people and you can choose/climb as many Corbetts as you wish.

Check out our news page for regular updates of which Corbetts have been claimed and / or climbed.

Update 28th May 2019:  at the request of our supporters and corbett fans the duration of the event has been extended until the end of July 2019!

Contact Us

Please complete the form to contact us about Corbetts for Courses. It would be helpful if you tell us which corbett you might be interested in.

Please note that as we are run entirely by volunteers and do not have any paid staff, that there may be a delay of a couple of days before we are able to respond. Thank you for your patience.

And here’s the map. Blue circles are free, brown triangles are planned (you know who you are – just one week left to go!) and yellow stars are completed.

Hi all,

Thought it might be useful to post the full list this time, including free, planned and completed hills. We’ve got one more week before the end of the three-months period; how many more can we get done????

• A’Chaoirnich [Maol Creag an Loch] NN7352480711 Free

• Ainshval NM3784194333 Free

• Am Bathach NH0733514340 Completed

• An Cliseam [Clisham] NB1548407302 Completed

• An Dun NN7173580507 Free

• An Ruadh-stac NG9214548064 Completed

• An Sidhean NH1710345392 Free

• An Stac NM7628579280 Completed

• Aonach Buidhe NH0576132465 Free

• Aonach Shasuinn NH1732218022 Completed

• Arkle NC3027546180 Planned

• Askival NM3931095223 Completed

• Auchnafree Hill NN8086230811 Completed

• Bac an Eich NH2221548950 Planned

• Baosbheinn NG8703165420 Free

• Beinn a’Bha’ach Ard [Beinn a’Bhathaich Ard] NH3605943484 Free

• Beinn a’Bhuiridh NN0942428362 Completed

• Beinn a’Chaisgein Mor NG9825178554 Completed

• Beinn a’Chaisteil NN3471936404 Completed

• Beinn a’Chaisteil NH3699680112 Free

• Beinn a’Chlaidheimh NH0613577581 Completed

• Beinn a’Choin NN3542613028 Completed

• Beinn a’Chrulaiste NN2462756682 Completed

• Beinn a’Chuallaich NN6845861775 Free

• Beinn Airigh Charr NG9303076184 Free

• Beinn an Eoin NG9051164634 Free

• Beinn an Lochain NN2180307893 Completed

• Beinn an Oir NR4980674947 Completed

• Beinn Bhan NN1406085714 Completed

• Beinn Bhan NG8036145039 Free

• Beinn Bheula NS1547998326 Free

• Beinn Bhreac NN8683882077 Free

• Beinn Bhreac-liath NN3027733917 Completed

• Beinn Bhuidhe NM8217696727 Completed

• Beinn Chaorach NN3588632825 Completed

• Beinn Chuirn NN2803029235 Completed

• Beinn Damh NG8926250201 Completed

• Beinn Dearg NN6086849755 Completed

• Beinn Dearg NG8953060820 Free

• Beinn Dearg Bheag NH0199581134 Completed

• Beinn Dearg Mor NH0321779939 Completed

• Beinn Dronaig NH0370738184 Free

• Beinn Each NN6016515806 Completed

• Beinn Enaiglair NH2250080525 Completed

• Beinn Iaruinn NN2969990046 Free

• Beinn Lair NG9815873278 Completed

• Beinn Leoid NC3202729490 Free

• Beinn Liath Mhor a’Ghiubhais Li [Beinn

• Liath Mhor a’Ghiuthais] NH2808371315 Free

• Druim nan Cnamh [Beinn Loinne] NH1307807694 Free

• Beinn Luibhean NN2428107920 Completed

• Beinn Maol Chaluim NN1349452585 Completed

• Beinn Mheadhonach NN8800575900 Free

• Beinn Mhic Cedidh NM8282978819 Free

• Beinn Mhic Chasgaig NN2214750228 Completed

• Beinn Mhic-Mhonaidh NN2087135013 Completed

• Beinn Mholach NN5875065490 Completed

• Beinn na Caillich NG7959306698 Completed

• Beinn na h-Eaglaise NG8543312007 Free

• Beinn na h-Uamha NM9171566424 Completed

• Beinn nam Fuaran NN3611138193 Completed

• Beinn nan Caorach NG8715212123 Free

• Beinn nan Imirean NN4192830949 Completed

• Beinn nan Oighreag NN5416741200 Free

• Beinn Odhar NN3373533884 Completed

• Beinn Odhar Bheag NM8465477873 Free

• Beinn Pharlagain [Ben Pharlagain – Meall na Meoig] NN4481764210 Planned

• Beinn Resipol NM7664265464 Completed

• Beinn Spionnaidh NC3619557297 Free

• Beinn Tarsuinn NR9601541275 Completed

• Beinn Tharsuinn NH0551843351 Free

• Beinn Trilleachan NN0864643900 Completed Beinn Udlaidh NN2806133134 Completed

• Ben Aden [Beinn an Aodainn] NM8993998626 Completed

• Ben Donich NN2183804307 Completed

• Ben Gulabin NO1004172214 Completed

• Ben Hee NC4265533942 Free

• Ben Ledi NN5623609777 Completed

• Ben Loyal – An Caisteal NC5781148861 Free

• Ben Rinnes NJ2549935447 Completed

• Ben Tee NN2406497202 Free

• Ben Tirran NO3734274615 Completed

• Ben Vrackie NN9508063243 Completed

• Ben Vuirich NN9972570009 Free

• Benvane NN5351613728 Completed

• Bidein a’Chabair NM8890393060 Completed

• Braigh nan Uamhachan NM9753286667 Free

• Breabag NC2867215739 Completed

• Broad Law NT1464223538 Completed

• Brown Cow Hill NJ2210504455 Completed

• Buidhe Bheinn NG9633409056 Completed

• Cairnsmore of Carsphairn NX5946497995 Completed

• Caisteal Abhail NR9690744324 Completed

• Cam Chreag NN5368049126 Completed

• Cam Chreag NN3755034670 Completed

• Canisp NC2028918732 Completed

• Carn a’Choire Ghairbh NH1368518878 Free

• Carn a’Chuilinn NH4167303403 Completed

• Carn an Fhreiceadain NH7256107134 Completed

• Carn Ban NH3384987583 Free

• Carn Chuinneag NH4836083334 Completed

• Carn Dearg NN3499696628 Free

• Carn Dearg NN3572294884 Free

• Carn Dearg NN3450488700 Completed

• Carn Dearg Mor NN8232591187 Completed

• Carn Ealasaid NJ2276911776 Completed

• Carn Liath NO1648997623 Free

• Carn Mor NM9030590943 Completed

• Carn Mor (Glenlivet) NJ2657618346 Planned

• Carn na Drochaide NO1273893845 Free

• Carn na Nathrach NM8862869883 Completed

• Carn na Saobhaidhe NH5989614408 Free

• Cir Mhor NR9727843111 Completed

• Cnoc Coinnich NN2335100755 Free

• Conachcraig NO2794986521 Completed

• Corryhabbie Hill NJ2809328869 Completed

• Corserine NX4978087068 Free

• Cramalt Craig (deleted corbett) NT1684524740 Completed

• Cranstackie NC3506155604 Free

• Creach Bheinn NN0237442240 Completed

• Creach Bheinn NM8706057648 Completed

• Creag Mac Ranaich NN5456425567 Completed

• Creag Mhor NJ0574604781 Free

• Creag nan Gabhar NO1546484112 Completed

• Creag Rainich NH0960075155 Free

• Creag Uchdag NN7082832324 Completed

• Creagan na Beinne NN7444136853 Completed

• Cruach Innse NN2799176373 Completed

• Cul Beag NC1403508834 Free

• Cul Mor NC1620311919 Completed

• Culardoch NO1935098826 Free

• Dun da Ghaoithe NM6724736218 Completed

• Faochaig NH0218431717 Free

• Farragon Hill NN8403355305 Planned

• Foinaven [Foinne Bhein] – Ganu Mor NC3152050697 Planned

• Fraoch Bheinn NM9860894041 Completed

• Fraochaidh NN0290451712 Completed

• Fuar Bheinn NM8534356342 Completed

• Fuar Tholl NG9754448948 Free

• Gairbeinn NN4605098527 Free

• Garbh Bheinn NM9043362214 Completed

• Garbh Bheinn NN1692660096 Completed

• Garbh-bheinn NG5312523246 Completed

• Geal Charn NJ0905112699 Completed

• Geal Charn NN1561894267 Completed

• Geal-charn Mor NH8363612330 Completed

• Glamaig – Sgurr Mhairi NG5136130005 Completed

• Glas Bheinn NN2589664116 Free Glas Bheinn NC2548626501 Free

• Goatfell [Goat Fell] NR9913941540 Completed

• Hart Fell NT1136513575 Free

• Leathad an Taobhain NN8217485829 Completed

• Leum Uilleim NN3307164141 Completed

• Little Wyvis NH4296064480 Completed

• Mam na Gualainn NN1150762548 Free

• Meall a’Bhuachaille NH9908611544 Planned

• Meall a’Ghiubhais [Meall a’Ghiuthais] NG9760663421 Completed

• Meall an Fhudair NN2706819244 Completed

• Meall an t-Seallaidh NN5421023408 Completed Meall a’Phubuill NN0293885419 Completed

• Meall Buidhe NN4268844962 Completed

• Meall Dubh NH2453407847 Free

• Meall Horn NC3526144921 Free

• Meall Lighiche NN0947852835 Completed

• Meall na Fearna NN6507818687 Completed

• Meall na h-Aisre NH5152800046 Free

• Meall na h-Eilde NN1854994632 Completed

• Meall na Leitreach NN6405970288 Completed

• Meall nam Maigheach NN5860143587 Completed

• Meall nan Subh NN4607739750 Completed

• Meall Tairneachan NN8074554376 Completed

• Meallach Mhor NN7766190877 Free

• Meallan Liath Coire Mhic Dhughaill NC3572039150 Free

• Meallan nan Uan NH2637254472 Free

• Merrick NX4275685549 Completed

• Monamenach NO1760070670 Completed

• Morrone NO1321088650 Completed

• Morven NJ3768103996 Completed

• Mount Battock NO5496484470 Completed

• Quinag – Sail Gharbh NC2093829210 Planned

• Quinag – Sail Gorm [Sail Ghorm] NC1983730426 Planned

• Quinag – Spidean Coinich NC2060227746 Planned

• Rois-Bheinn NM7560277838 Completed

• Ruadh-stac Beag NG9727661340 Completed

• Sail Mhor NH0329588706 Free

• Sgor Mor NO1150082500 Completed

• Sgorr Craobh a’Chaorainn NM8955375795 Free

• Sgorr na Diollaid NH2817836262 Completed

• Sgorr nan Lochan Uaine NG9690953149 Free

• Sguman Coinntich NG9770030360 Completed

• Sgurr a’Chaorachain NG7966241752 Completed

• Sgurr a’Choire-bheithe NG8959401597 Completed

• Sgurr a’Mhuilinn NH2646655747 Free

• Sgurr an Airgid NG9404522715 Free

• Sgurr an Fhuarain NM9874097981 Completed

• Sgurr an Utha NM8850283974 Completed

• Sgurr Coire Choinnichean NG7907501078 Completed

• Sgurr Cos na Breachd-laoidh NM9479994668 Free

• Sgurr Dhomhnuill NM8895467888 Completed

• Sgurr Dubh NG9790955791 Free

• Sgurr Gaorsaic NH0358821875 Completed

• Sgurr Ghiubhsachain NM8756075128 Free

• Sgurr Innse NN2902474823 Completed

• Sgurr Mhic Bharraich NG9176717364 Free

• Sgurr Mhurlagain NN0125994469 Free

• Sgurr na Ba Glaise NM7701677754 Completed

• Sgurr na Feartaig NH0551445398 Completed

• Sgurr nan Ceannaichean NH0872448063 Free

• Sgurr nan Eugallt NG9271404866 Free

• Shalloch on Minnoch NX4076290564 Free

• Sron a’Choire Chnapanich [Sron a’Choire Chnapanaich] NN4560445301 Free

• Druim Tarsuinn [Stob a’Bhealach an Sgriodain] NM8746572742 Free

• Stob a’Choin NN4172215975 Completed

• Stob an Aonaich Mhoir NN5374869424 Planned

• Stob Coire a’Chearcaill NN0168772682 Completed

• Stob Coire Creagach [Binnein an Fhidhleir] NN2306310918 Completed

• Stob Dubh NN1663848831 Completed

• Beinn Stacach [Ceann na Baintighearna] [Stob Fear-tomhais] [Beinn Stacath] NN4743216323 Free

• Streap NM9466086376 Free

• The Brack NN2456503061 Completed

• The Cobbler [Ben Arthur] NN2595205822 Completed

• The Fara NN5982684264 Free

• The Sow of Atholl [Meall an Dobharchain] NN6251974120 Completed

• White Coomb NT1632015095 Completed

Can you help see the Corbett’s for Courses Facebook Mountain Aid.

Posted in Articles, Charity, Corbetts, Corbetts and other hills, Friends, Mountaineering | Leave a comment

All you cycling fans these are well worth a listen – podcasts from the Adventure Syndicate.

I got this from the incredible Jenny Graham (Round the solo cyclist World record holder)

“Yo yo yo!!! We have new RTW podcasts out 🥳🥳🥳 could do with folk leaving reviews on itunes to help get it up the charts.

If you have a spare minute

Heres the link…

Thaaaaaaanks 😍🤩🥰🤟

https://podcasts.apple.com/gb/podcast/the-adventure-syndicate-podcasts/id1468787383

Posted in Cycling, Friends, Gear, Mountain Biking, Well being | Leave a comment

Over in Skye it’s hot.

Well what weather to visit Skye. It was so hot and clear blue skies all the way. I went by Applecross to visit a pal had a great lunch fresh smoked salmon and passed the Torridon and Applecross hills looking incredible.

The mighty Liathach – Torridon

The roads were so busy everyone it seems has a camper-van and on the tight roads it was scary at times. Add to that the convoy of posh cars tearing up the road all on a mission?

I was glad to get to Skye in one piece.

photo – My mate Islay xx

I met so many who had been on the ridge I knew it would be warm and many were finding it hard going due to the heat.

Marsco

I am staying in Broadford and away early tomorrow. It’s another hot day planned so I need to be careful with the sun.

The usual tips apply

Drink carry plenty of water. A lot more than usual. I try to drink as much as I can before I go get hydrated.

Use sunscreen and cover up. Use a hat !

It’s so easy to damage your skin by to much sun. Many of us are suffering from this due to not looking after yourself with sunscreen.

Heat exhaustion is not funny so be careful enjoy the weather but take it easy

I find early starts help as you are up high when the sun is at its hottest hopefully with a breeze.

It’s great to enjoy some good weather at last.

Posted in Articles, Bothies, Enviroment, Friends, Gear, Health, Hill running and huge days!, Local area and events to see, mountain safety, Mountaineering, Munros, People, Views Mountaineering, Weather | Leave a comment

Fraochaidh a grand Corbett with great company superb views and lots of clegs.

I needed a hill day as I have been down visiting my sick sister. It’s never easy seeing someone you love ill and trying to help. It makes you appreciate life and your health so much.

My pal Terry Moore from the days when I was fit was up to climb some Corbett’s.Terry is an exceptional Mountaineer we did a West to East in winter in 1977 when I was fit we had been pals for many years.

We could maybe meet and he was happy to meet me early in Ballahullish Near Glencoe I left Ayr at 0530 it would be a long day.

The traffic was easy the Loch Lomond road quite and every lay-by had vans parked.The forecast was good but warm before a storm and heavy rain came in.

Ben Lomond early morning.

We met at the jetty in Ballahullish and I wanted to climb the Corbett Fraochaidh at the back of Beinn A Bheither. I thought I had not done this before. Terry was okay with this despite climbing this Corbett on a sailing trip in May.

My plan was to go in from Duror and according to the Guide Steve Fallon his advice is always good.

“Fraochaidh in Appin (Corbett) – Steven Fallon

Routes up the Corbett Fraochaidh in Appin. Fraochaidh is fine hill with a long summit crest situated in Appin. … Approaches to Fraochaidh can be made from Ballachuilish to the north-east, Loch Creran to the south and Duror to the north-west.”

Terry just before we climbed the hill !

We followed the the cycle track from Duror and then onto the hill by the forestry track for about 3 ks. It’s then up the hill where the trees have been felled. I found this hard going Terry who guided for Big trips in the Himalayas took it all in his stride.

Rough ground through forestry.

I was finding it hard going the clegs were awful following me and attracted to the yellow top I was wearing. Yet it was great to clear the mind and Terry kept the chat up and with a few stops to look at the incredible views.

Terry in Guide mode.

All the big hills were in view all day old favourites and memories came back.We were soon on the ridge in the breeze and away from the Clegs. The views got better.

We were soon on the top on the way up I recognised certain features. I had been on the summit before. My memory must be hopeless as the last time was Dec 2016 from Ballahullish how could I forget that. Terry was in disbelief of my incompetence also I had done it many years before from the Beinn A Bheither a huge drop .

Summit again !!!

We had some lunch it all came back to me and then headed back . Terry had another Hill to do Beinn Trilleachan in Glen Etive.

The descent was hard going but then back into the clegs and back to the van.

Terry headed of to Glen Etive I had a 3 hour trip home. It was a great day,grand hill and enjoyable day.

Thanks Terry sorry for you doing another Corbett again yet it’s a great hill recommended.

Today’s tip yellow tops attract clegs.

Posted in Articles, Corbetts, Equipment, Friends, Himalayas/ Everest, Local area and events to see, mountain safety, People, Views Mountaineering, Weather, Wildlife | Leave a comment

A cycle after a busy day. Bruce’s well in Prestwick looking tired and neglected.

I managed a cycle yesterday from Prestwick into Ayr along the cycle track. It was not far about 10 Miles’s round trip. It takes you along the beach past the golf course and near the Port of Ayr. This is an heavily industrial area sadly lots of litter and rubbish about. There was a bit of a wind as well but it was a good break.

The weather varied from dark skies to a warm day and I caught the odd shower. I saw this on a Board at Prestwick.

“When the spirits are low

When the day appears dark

When the work becomes monotonous

When hope seems hardly worth having

Just Mount a bicycle and go out

For a spin down the road

Without a thought on anything

But the ride your taking”

One of the places I passed was Bruce’s well a Historical point of interest looking pretty neglected in Prestwick with rubbish and the rusty railings making it look very neglected. Sad to see! Maybe someone will do something about it as it’s a Council sign that describes this Historical well.

“One of the “claims to fame” is the Bruces Well as Robert the Bruce visited Prestwick and rested on the site of a hospital and the walls of the old hospital are still there today.”

It was a good hour out and I needed that maybe I will get time to get out today.

Posted in Articles, Cycling, Enviroment, Family, Health, Local area and events to see, Views Political?, Weather | Leave a comment

Looking after our own.

I am down in Ayr as I have family member who is very ill. I am so glad that I can help in a limited way by doing simple things for them.

We are lucky as we have a strong family where everyone helps when they can. Health is what we all take for granted yet as we get older it can cause problems.

It’s easy when we are young and fit to forget those struggling but it is also part of life getting especially getting older

I am so lucky to be surrounded by good family and friends many are not. I hear of lots of folk struggling with health and well being issues. I try to help when I can but sometimes try to hard.

Many of us spent so much time in the mountains looking for folk we never knew. Risking our lives at times for others. Yet when family and friends are struggling some of us are “too busy to help”

Sadly some say that “I do not do hospitals” when folk are ill. I find this is an awful way of not coping with life.

Yet you can help by being there and doing practical simple things.

Every day as you get older you learn from life, There can a lot of practical help you can give and even sharing life’s worries with a friend or family member can be eye opening.

As my pal John often says ” None-of is are getting out of this alive” so let’s enjoy what we have.

Every day spent with those you love and care for is so precious. Make that phone call, make that visit if you have fallen out with someone get in touch. Please enjoy every minute of every day that we have .

We watched Andy Murray yesterday on his come back at the Doubles tennis. That made today very special for us both .

Thanks Andy .

Today give a hug or call to those you love .

Comments as always welcome.

Posted in Articles, Family, Friends, Health, medical, People | 4 Comments

It was early away about 0100 yesterday for the 2 and a half hour drive to

Sheildaig on the West Coast. What a stunning village that takes the Celtman into its heart as does the whole area.

The weather was dry on the way over with no magical sunset as I drove the light came through. The hills still looked dark but the heavy rain of the last few days had stopped.

The wild life was waking up with deer crossing the empty roads there were some big deer involved so I took it easy. The hills were clear and only a little wind.

I was going to watch a pal Mark Hartree who was competing on this magical race .

Mark is a long standing pal who was with me in my Mountain Rescue days. He and another pal accompanied Scouse Atkins me on my Cycle from Lockerbie to Edinburgh in storm Calumn. It was payback for me to come and cheer him despite the 0100 start .

Mark one of the stalwarts of MRT

I had also Helped marshall in 6 of the previous Celtman with Torridon MRT so I had never seen the start at 0500 in the village I was not disappointed.

The eighth edition of the CELTMAN! Extreme Scottish Triathlon, part of the Xtri World Tour, will take place on June 15th 2019 in Wester Ross, Scotland.
Centred around the stunning Torridon mountains we will take you on an adventure unlike any other.

Make no mistake – when we say this race is extreme we mean it. Read the race information carefully before entering as you may have to endure cold water, strong winds, driving rain and difficult conditions on the mountain with low visibility.

Photo Ryan

Please download the Race Manual for more details.

I arrived as the competitors were getting buses from the start of the race. The village of Shieldaig was mobbed with over 200 competitors support crews and supporters. It’s an incredible place to be with all the competitors. I saw many familiar faces and the Adventure Show was filming. The swim today looked okay with the water pretty still. The midges were out though and the first swimmers would be back in one hour.

I had time to get a bacon roll and tea from the Sheildaig Coastal Rowing Club it was so busy and they had been up very early preparing the food. They were doing a great trade for all the support crews and it was out of the midges. Where else would you get food at 0500.

From my mate Pete

“David Whalley great to see you as well mate. I thought the flowers for me 😂. The lady’s who did that breakfast were amazing. If you know any of them could you please say a big thank you from me.

Definitely need to catch up soon.”well done all.

Out of the water tired and cold only 209 k to go.

SWIM 3.4K in cold, deep and  jellyfish infested Atlantic waters

I found it incredible watching as the first swimmers come into view. The burning lights the smoke and the drums on the shore make it a special atmosphere.

They are supported by kayakers and boats as Safety is essential. I have done this part in the Safety boat in the past it’s a huge responsibility ensuring all 200 make it safely in the 3 – 2 k of open water.

When you see the main swimmers come in it’s like a shoal of fish in the distance. It must be hard work with cold water tides and the jelly fish.

Watching them come ashore is amazing they give everything and now have a quick change in the open then the 202 k cycle. All these competitors are incredible athletes.

Mark getting ready after swim for the cycke.

The cycle is massive and I followed them through most of it through impressive scenery. The route is through exceptional country every lay-bye is full of support vechiles.

I know it well Kinlochewe , Gairloch Poolewe, Dundonnell – Braemore and on. Today there was a head wind but I could not believe the effort needed to complete this part of this gruelling event.

Mark was going well with his wife Fi and Jim West Mike Lynch two Carnethy runners in support.

We stopped often as he pushed on. He was like the others pushing on despite the head wind. We stopped and cheered as he and others speed on it was impressive to watch .

Fiona in support !

BIKE 202K on incredible scenic (and often very windy) Highland roads

I left them just before Garve it was 1300 and heavy rain falling Mark still had about 50 k to go then the hill run. I was pretty tired just watching and for the first I would not be on the hills. I felt guilty but I have to take it easy just now. My thoughts were with them all.

RUN 42K through an ancient drover’s pass and over the Beinn Eighe mountain range.
I had a mate who will be piping on the summit for the runners now that would be heartwarming for the competitors.
Also the Torridon Team doing the Safety cover on the mountain. They would have a long day.
ASCEND over 4000 Metres during this epic day
PUSH YOURSELF 100% and win the coveted Blue T-shirt.

At the end there is a meal at the Village Hall it will be a long day and what effort by all.

I stopped at my pals at Black Bridge for tea and a sandwich we had a catch up and then I headed home.

I got home and went to bed. Mark and many others would still be out .

The Celtman is a great event true sport at the extreme. It was wonderful to watch.The local support is immense and it was a incredible day. I met again so many inspirational people as always.

Your all heroes.

Link | Posted on by | Leave a comment

When I joined Mountain Rescue in the 70’s the Mountaineering World was life was dominated by males. I was amazed to meet Molly Porter a strong powerful leader and Mountaineer who then was the leader of the Cairngorm MRT. Coming from a military background mainly male I was amazed yet over the years I have thank goodness been educated and things have changed rapidly.

Molly Porter leader of the Cairngorm MRT Team .

I read a great book just before that it became one of my favourite called “Space below my feet” written by the Climber and Mountain Guide Gwen Moffat.

An inspired read .

A classic mountaineering memoir by one of the UK’s foremost female climbers.

In 1945, when Gwen Moffat was in her twenties, she deserted from her post as a driver and dispatch rider in the Army and went to live rough in Wales and Cornwall, climbing and living on practically nothing. She hitch-hiked her way around, travelling from Skye to Chamonix and many places in between, with all her possessions on her back, although these amounted to little more than a rope and a sleeping bag.

When the money ran out, she worked as a forester, went winkle-picking on the Isle of Skye, acted as the helmsman of a schooner and did a stint as an artist’s model. And always there were the mountains, drawing her away from a ‘proper’ job.

Throughout this unique story, there are acutely observed accounts of mountaineering exploits as Moffat tackles the toughest climbs and goes on to become Britain’s leading female climber – and the first woman to qualify as a mountain guide.

Book Description

A classic mountaineering memoir by one of the UK’s foremost female climbers.

Gwen Moffat was the first woman to qualify as a mountain guide in the UK and is one of the greatest female climbers this country has ever produced.

She is also a prolific writer and novelist, with more than 30 books to her name.

I was inspired to read this and it’s a “must read” it explains Gwen life in the 50’s. These were hard times for girls especially with a young daughter.

Climbing then was “beardy men “and though women climbed and many were great Mountaineers about little was known about them.

I was so pleased to meet Gwen at a RAF MRT reunion where she met many of the girls that had joined Mountain Rescue. She is still around and was the inspiration for many and recently the BMC did a film on her life. What a star.

Yesterday I heard the great news that Jenny Graham our local hero from Inverness. She had just been awarded her Guinness record for her incredible Round the World unsupported cycle.

In this incredible feat she achieved an amazing World record. She was unsupported and I followed her daily on line.

To do this was some journey. It is wonderful to see a lassie like Jenny become such a star. I heard her speak recently about her trip and it was one of the most incredible talks I have ever heard.

The audience were spellbound as was I. She is a great example how with exceptional determination and fitness she smashed the World record by 3 weeks.

Its OFFICIAL 🥳 I’m #guinnessworldrecord holder 🏅💯✔ The fastest woman to cycle around the world – all 18,000miles of it! Fellow Scot and male record holder Mark Beaumont came along to celebrate the occasion this morning 🚴‍♀️🌎🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿

During the ride I kept audio diaries and with the help of our storyboard consultant & Shand Cycles we’ve made them into an eight-part podcast series…

Look here 👀👀http://theadventuresyndicate.com/adventure-syndicate-productions

Endura APIDURA #leighdaycycling Pennie Latin @unitasglobal John Hampshire #cyclinguk #bikeweekUK #gwrday

I would advise you to listen to the podcasts they are magical and as always Jenny is humble and inspiring. I cannot wait to get my young granddaughters to meet her

Another star is Di Gilbert – Mountaineer

There are certain achievements that we all hear about and think ’Wow’. At only 31 years of age, Di Gilbert, has spent most of her life enjoying the great outdoors. She is one of a select in-demand guides and climbing instructors, who travel the globe, teaching people how to climb safely and leading teams of enthusiasts to the tops of some of the most treacherous mountains in the world. Oh yes, she just became only the second Scottish women in history to climb Mount Everest.

Gary Fisher, Inside Aberdeenshire

Di Gilbert works full time as an Independent Mountaineering Instructor, based in the Cairngorm National Park. She has never had a proper job and it is unlikely that this will change now.

Di has stood on the bottom of the world without falling off, she has stood on top of the world without suffering from vertigo, she has climbed the world’s 7 summits and completed all 282 Munros. In 2016, Di was Expedition Leader with the Adventure Peaks K2 Expedition – the first British Expedition to K2 in 12 years – but success was not to be when an avalanche completely destroyed Camp 3 ending the season sooner than expected.  

Di holds the MIC qualification, the American Avalanche Association Level 2 and both Snowsport Scotland Alpine and Mountain Ski Leader Awards.

She has represented Great Britain in the International Ski Mountaineering Federation’s World Championships and is a Director of Skimo Scotland, the home of ski mountaineering racing in Scotland.

It took Di, 6,773 days or 18 years, 6 months and 18 days to complete her Munros – somewhat longer and possibly harder than it took her to summit the world’s 7 summits. 

Di also spent 4 Antarctic seasons based at Patriot Hills, initially as a Guide, before reached the dizzy heights of Field Operations Manager with Antarctic Expeditions & Logistics before finally hanging up her pink sorrel boots and carhartts for the final time in 2007. 

In 2015, Di was inducted into the University of Strathclyde’s Sports Hall of Fame and awarded an Honorary Full Sporting Blue for showing an outstanding high level of sporting achievement.

Di has finally admitted to bagging the Corbetts and is hoping that it will take less time to complete the Munros.

Having said that she would never go back to Everest, she has finally decided that it would be good to go back and will by leading the 2019 Adventure Peaks Everest Expedition.

Update Di is back and summitted from the North side Everest thats amazing Di climbed it Everest twice. She is a great lass another lovely person and a talented Mountaineer. Like Jenny she is another amazing lassie who is just as happy in the Worlds big mountains or at home climbing and skiing in Scotland . It’s amazing how many talented Di is from the local area and is another magical personality. I meet Di on the hills or through really good pals. She is all go and such a fun person. She loves her Scottish Mountains and with her pals is at home here. She works with so many passing on her hard won skills. If you meet anyone who has been out on the hills with her they will have had a great day.

Di Everest Certificate from the Chinese .

It took years to get lassies in the RAF Mountain Rescue yet all over the Civilian Mountain Rescue we had lassies in every team.

I admit I was a bit of a Dinosaur in these early days yet I was quickly changed and what a difference they made to our teams.

I was honoured to introduce two of the girls to Gwenn MOFFAT and always buy a copy of her book for budding female Mountaineers. I was not the only one to be a dinosaur as my Mountaineering Club The Scottish Mountaineering Club took years to accept female members into the SMC. It’s amazing to write this in this day and age.

We now have so many iconic ladies in all sports and in life my friend Heather Morning another incredible Mountaineer and Mountain Safety Officer was a breath of fresh air in the Mountain Safety world . She is another inspiration on the hills a true lover of the mountains and always there to spread the Mountaineering message.

For many years we have had amazing female Search and Rescue Dog handlers. There were so many to mention but each one was special to me.

Often they worked alone and were always incredible folk as they are in SARDA all over the UK. Many have been pals for over 30 years and it’s amazing to see how hard they worked to be accepted in a man’s world.

It’s wonderful how all this has changed all for the better and how Mountaineering has changed. So many girls are out on the mountains and wild places together enjoying it.

What a change in my 50 years on the hills. I gave a talk at the Clachaig Inn a few years ago the audience was 50/50 men and women. What a change from “Beardy men and Tartan shirts. ”

We have another female team leader currently at Assynt MRT Sue Agnew who along with many others is the mainstay of Mountain Rescue Teams.

How times have moved on.

I watched the Scottish Ladies football team a few nights ago. I loved the game they played against England it was all heart and lots of skill. They played the game with an honest and sporting approach. It was refreshing to see what an example they set.

I am a convert and how amazing it was to watch this and enjoy the sport again.

The men can learn from this !

I have missed so many others out I am sorry it’s great that there are so many iconic ladies out there. I am honoured to have met so many.

My Mum played a huge part in my life and would love to see how the World has changed especially for lassies.

My two granddaughters did their first races this week at aged 5 and 9. They constantly tell me about Girl power. Their Mum is a powerhouse and they are lucky to have met so many inspiring folk already.

I cannot wait to introduce them to some of these great incredible people and hope that their enthusiasm for sport and the wild places and life in general stays with them throughout life. What a start you have.

Thank you ladies for all the inspiration.

I could have written on so many more please forgive me for missing you out.

Comments welcome .

Link | Posted on by | 2 Comments

We await more news as the Indian Airforce helicopter managed to fly into where the Avalanche was seen on Nanda Devi.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/amp/world-asia-india-48499548

According to the latest news sadly 5 bodies have been reported as being seen. We await further news. Nanda Devi was believed to have been hit by multiple avalanches.

It is a terrible time for all the families involved so please, please be careful what you read or write in any forums that are talking about this tragedy.

Some folk are so disrespectful with there comments and views. It’s the last thing the families need.

My thoughts are with the families.

Link | Posted on by | Leave a comment

This is the second part of the above incident.

When you arrive at such a scene of incredible trauma and destruction it is amazing how you cope. This was the job the RAF Mountain Rescue train for an unfortunately this is what were paid to do. Our task is to rescue and recover civilian and military aircraft crews and passengers. Six of us in were in the fast party that had arrived by Sea King helicopter had huge experience in aircraft crash sites. After the initial survey round the very dangerous crash site and with all the 29 on board accounted for  we have to ensure that all the evidence at the crash site is not touched or moved. This means that all the casualties stay in place and await the Police and Air Investigation Board arrive. (AIB) The local Police, Coastguard / Fire and Ambulance were already on scene and were glad of our experience.

We had to explain how dangerous the crash site was with fire, smoke, trauma and other items like sharp wreckage making it very easy to explain and keep the site safe and secure. This is never easy to do as there always seem especially in those days of we must have a look.

Jim the Team Leader was busy speaking to our powers that be by phone and we found out that the rest of the Team from RAF Leuchars and RAF Kinloss were coming by road a long 3- 4 hour journey for Leuchars and longer from Kinloss. The Mull road is very tight single lane for the last 12 k and proved tricky for the emergency services. That was handy as the media were kept away. When we arrived we had already worked out we would be on our own for a while. By now after a couple of hours the top brass from the Police and Fire had arrived and set up Operation Controls etc.

My task was to brief them and also keep the integrity of the Crash site. It is also so important despite who ever arrives few will have seen such a tragedy.  I can only remind people that this is place of death, destruction and danger and in my experience need to keep those who see this horror at a minimum.

I had a few heavy discussions on this point as there is “a must see what has happened attitude” by some that many lived to regret.

In the end they were all advised and we did keep the site as safe as possible. The fire service was there for most of the night as the peat and smoke keep burning. The wreck  smouldered for days. It was surreal. It is amazing the things you remember and we needed a drink it was hard to get some as the area was contaminated by fuel. We were hot and tired by the time some of the team arrived to help us we were on our own for over 6  hours.  Its amazing that somehow the WRVS or locals arrived and they were the angels looking after us and giving some normality.

We took round a few of the key players showed them the crash site and had a well – earned break.  If you can have such a thing. Then a local minster arrived and wanted to visit the site and say a few words.  It was late and dark by now making this a place of great sadness. The mist was still coming and going and the place smelt of fuel and danger.

It was tricky as the casualties were still in place as the Police and AIB investigation would be done mostly done next day . It was with a group of us that the minster said a few words and left he was visibly shaken by what he had seen. We had covered the casualties when our kit arrived up and it was a long night.

The site is fairly remote so access was controlled by the Police along the single track road. The weather had cleared and a few Military and other experts arrived but work on the site would not start till the next day.

Next day the main investigation started they would be there for weeks and we left them to it after showing them around the scene. They have a difficult job to do but they have to do it. After they were finished the initial work the casualties were all removed a harrowing task done by our pals from RAF Leuchars MRT and a few others.  This was down with great dignity and reverence.

“This is a part that few realise is never easy but has to be done with reverence and great care. Every one of those poor souls killed is a tragic life a family has lost a loved one and devastation for all concerned. Some of us knew some of the crew”

Even next day smoke was still about, the air stank of aircraft fuel and burnt heather and of course all the wreckage was still in place. We left the Crash guard of military personnel to look after the site and headed back to RAF Machrihanish for the night. Our clothes stank of fuel and burning that shower was great as was a bed for the night and good food. People ask how do you cope, you are in the zone and do what you have to.

We had a meal we were starving and then all managed to have a night together both teams and a few drinks to unwind. We were now a bit better prepared for such tragedy after Lockerbie in 1988 and the Harris Crash in 1990  and it was good for the teams to unwind together.

Next day we drove back to our camps. It was a long drive in great weather through familiar scenery Glencoe and our familiar stomping grounds back to our home at RAF Kinloss in Morayshire. It was a quite trip home for the teams and back to family, friends and work. Sadly few who would have little idea of what we has seen and done on the Mull Of Kintyre. Some of the team got asked if the enjoyed their days off by the odd Boss.  They hadh no clue what they had seen or done. In the military you normally have to accept this but I always when I found out even at my level put them right no matter what rank they were.

I have written this piece just to tell a small piece of the work of the RAF Mountain Rescue Teams and other emergency services. Many can forget that this was a terrible tragedy and 29 souls lost their lives. Families were and still are devastated by the loss and it took over 20 years for me to visit the site to pay my respects.

This like other incidents and sadly I have been to many have affected me and others. I have learned to cope but the memories will be with me for life. We have moved on since 1994 learned so much but what a group of people I was with.

Many helped me at the time but in these days few knew I was struggling. “Big boys and girls did not talk then”.Yet you try to do your job and you do. It’s the month’s years later when it all comes back. Little things trigger it and its part of my life.

There was a small private ceremony this weekend at the Mull I doubt if any of the Rescue Teams will be present. I visited the Mull a few years ago for the first time. It was a powerful visit for me and helped me. The site has no wreckage it’s all gone but yet I see at times I saw the fires and the sadness of that day. Today and as always my thoughts are with the families and relatives of those who died.

These are some comments I received after I wrote about this before and I thank you for them, they help a lot.

“My husband was on board, one of the crew. It must have been terrible, but oddly I am reading this intently and looking forward to the next instalment. I am amazed at how this accident has touched so many and take great comfort in knowing that I am not alone in remembering that day.

Comment “20 years!! I was part of the Campbeltown lifeboat crew (RNLI) that was requested to go down to “The Mull” and form a search party. The lifeboat “Walter and Margaret Couper” had been launched on an earlier shout as the coastguard assumed the chinook was in the sea below, how wrong we’re they? We returned to station and got sent down to search the area.
A local doctor even stopped our land rover en route and suggested that anyone with a weak mind should return to Campbeltown with him as it wasn’t pleasant, I wish I had.
What a sad, eerie, haunting scene.”
I’ll never forget it, my thoughts and prayers go out to the families on this anniversary x DCI can remember it so well, I was and still am in the lifeboat in Campbeltown we missed the boat that night and we carried on in cars to the Mull of Kintyre to see if we could help and we had seen everything not a nice thing to see but it was our job”

Heavy Whalley June 2019

This piece is dedicated to crew and passengers of Helicopter ZD576 on the Mull of Kintyre.

I did a piece for Natural Geographic a few years ago as part of their “Seconds to Disaster film” the money I was paid went to Mountain Rescue. It shows the initial part we played and is worth a look.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ru4f57VMLeo

 

Comment from Mark

“Brutally sad days spent seeing and doing things you shouldn’t have to so.

Thanks to the people of Cambletown who helped with the stress counselling.”

Link | Posted on by | 2 Comments

An official statement from the Moran Family:

We are deeply saddened by the tragic events unfolding in the Nanda Devi region of the Indian Himalaya.

As a family, we share the same emotions that all next of kin are experiencing in not knowing the whereabouts or wellbeing of those closest to us.

We are grateful to the Indian Mountaineering Foundation who are coordinating search and rescue efforts on the ground and in the air under extremely difficult conditions in a very remote area of the Himalaya.

The climbing group had set out to attempt an unclimbed, unnamed summit, Peak 6477m, and the last contact intimated that all was well and a summit bid would be made from a camp at around 5400m.

It is not entirely clear what happened from this point onwards or indeed the timeline of events. We do know that a British Mountain Guide who was in the area leading a trekking group, as part of the same expedition, was informed that the climbing group had not returned to basecamp as expected. He immediately went on the mountain to search for the missing climbers. There was clear evidence that a sizeable avalanche had occurred on the mountain and it seemed to be on or very near the route that would be taken by the climbing group. The Mountain Guide gave instructions to base camp to alert rescue authorities. The alarm was raised early on Friday morning 31st May.

Today we have been informed by the Indian Mountaineering Federation that an air search by helicopter has revealed the scale of the avalanche but no sign of the climbers, their equipment nor their tents.

We are pressing for the search area to be widened and continued until such time as firm evidence is found to ascertain the wellbeing or otherwise of all those in the climbing group.

We are grateful for all the support that has been offered to us and we will be sure to release any information as and when we receive it. In the meantime please respect the privacy that the next of kin of the climbers need as they seek solace at this harrowing time.

The Moran Family

Link | Posted on by | Leave a comment

I met a pal yesterday from my days at RAF Leuchars Mountain Rescue Team who was celebrating his 50 th birthday Tommy Pilling.

He joined the RAF Leuchars MRT as a young lad in 1988. Now Tommy like me when he joined looked about 12 yet he proved he was made of the right stuff.

Tommy was new to the Scottish hills but loved them and was typical of those young folk who joined the RAF Mountain Rescue Team .

As in my early days if they stayed in the team they gave you everything and it was a huge honour to work with them. It was in the main a young team at RAF Leuchars in Fife but what a strong team they became.

They were my first team as Team Leader and they never let me down. It would be great to meet Tommy again after all these years.

I had left early mainly to see a wonderful memorial to my mate Tom Jones who passed away last year. On the way I saw red squirrels, young deer and buzzards the rain of the last few days had stopped at last the land and forests were looking so green.

Carrbridge was busy even early in the morning . I located the carving It is an incredible piece next to the village hall in Carrbridge.

This is where Tom lived and became a big part of the local community with his family.

I enjoyed seeing it spending time and met some folk from Caithness we had a bleather about Tom.

To me this carving was a wonderful tribute to a special pal. Tom was one of the inspirations for the wood carving festival held every year in the village. It is now the biggest in the Uk and Tom loved it, the area and its people.

Tom worked for many years as an Outdoor Activities instructor at nearby Grantown on Spey and abroad. The carving is from a tree that was being cut down and the local Community decided that they would carve it as a tribute to Tom, it is a powerful piece to a man we all miss.

The family love it and in the early morning sun it was a powerful and moving place to be. The birds were singing it was the right place to be.

Tommy and me on Cairngorm yesterday.

I arrived at Cairngorm car park early to meet Tommy and Mandy. She had sorted a weekend away to Aviemore for them from Huddersfield and they invited me to have a day on the hill.

Tommy had wanted Mandy to climb her first Munro Cairngorm.

Cairngorm with Mandy and Tommy

They had a good day on Meall a’ Buachaile the day before so we met at the car park. It was a great walk up to Cairngorm in good weather.

It was perfect walking weather and we chatted all the way. Mandy enjoyed it and I then took them round the plateau away from the crowds.

We were soon of the path and into the space that makes this place unique. I told Mandy that these were places we had searched in wild days on call outs. It can be an awful place at night in winter in bad weather. Today out of the wind it was benign and beautiful. There were still snow patches about .

The my and Mandy at Cistercian’s Meradith

Tommy told me that I took him out on the 4 Cairngorm tops on his first day on the team in 1988. He was so happy he completed it and he hung in on a big day in the hills. After that he never looked back in the team got fit and loved the mountains after that. We spoke about the Alps a Rescue on Mt Blanc of two skiers in a crevasse the Pyrenees all a blur in these days as we went from one story to another.

We wandered round old haunts enjoyed the views the wild life and no folk about. We visited the old snow hole sights looked down to Loch Avon marvelled at the space and wonderful rock formations. The huge cliffs and skies today darkened but we stayed away from the rain and were sheltered from the wind.

Great views

It was a lovely day we chatted and I told Mandy about a few of our adventures with Tommy in our days with the team.

These were sometimes hard days big searches call outs and of course Lockerbie. Tommy like others had only been with the team for a few months but like the rest was a stalwart despite his youth.

He told me about an epic on the climb “Savage Slit” in late December with Mark Richford with the team. This was the Christmas period a few days after Lockerbie.

He remembers it as a hard day running on empty coming across the plateau. This was after a hard day on the route in poor weather. He spoke of taking ages to get the gear out of the cracks, freezing hands and running on empty.

On the same day I went out to Macdui and Derry Cairngorm with my dog running alone to clear my head. I had a radio with me and spoke to Tommy who was having “fun”on the climb. I was in my own world that day trying to make sense of the tragedy of Lockerbie. It all came back when we spoke and I was then fit and in my prime.

It was great to hear him chat and speak about this wild day, one he and I would never forget.

It’s amazing looking back the effect the Mountain Rescue had on these young folk. They put so much into it and we ended up being a real family. They became like my sons and daughters and what a bond we still have.

Before Tommy and Mandy arrived I met the RAF Lossiemouth MRT in the car park out for a day on the hills. I had a catch up with Mark the Team Leader it’s great to see the teams still out doing it.

“The mountains give you this unique bond and it remains with you for life.”

We headed back down Mandy had loved the day and enjoyed seeing a little part of this incredible place and it’s wildness and space.

We then went for a coffee at Rothiemurcus and I said goodbye heading home what a day. On the way home I stopped to see Toms wife Alyson and Chris in Carrbridge. We had a great catch up and I wanted to say how much I loved seeing the Carving. There were so many stories of that unique man Tom Jones. We had a laugh and a cry but it was so needed. Then I headed home to see the football.

Sadly I heard on the hill that a pal is missing in the Himalayas Martin Moran. Martin is a good pal I have known for many years. I served with him on the Torridon Team. He is a Mountain Guide and another incredible man.

I pray he and his group are okay. Martin is a good pal and we often bump into each other on the hill. I have known him for many years since he was the first to climb all the Munros in winter on one trip.

BBC news

A group of eight climbers has gone missing while climbing India’s second highest mountain.

The team, which included four people from the UK, started to climb the 7,816-metre Nanda Devi East peak in the Himalayas on 13 May.

When they didn’t return to the base camp as planned, a search and rescue team was sent to try to find them.

However, a local official has warned that heavy rains and snowfall are affecting the search.

“We have activated resources to trace the climbers after they failed to return to the base camp, but bad weather is hindering the operation,” Vijay Kumar Jogdande, a magistrate in Pithoragarh district, told AFP news agency.

An Indian Air Force helicopter is also expected to be used on Sunday morning.

As well as the four climbers from Britain, the team also included two Americans, an Australian and an Indian.

They were being led by the experienced British mountain guide Martin Moran, whose Scotland-based company has run many expeditions in the Indian Himalayas.

Photos posted to Mr Moran’s Facebook page the day before the start of the climb showed the group “starting their journey into the hills at Neem Kharoli Baba temple, Bhowali”.

A later post on 22 May, posted from their second base camp at 4,870 metres, suggested that the group would attempt to summit a never-before-climbed peak on the mountain.

There have been conflicting reports about when exactly the group was scheduled to return. However, according to local media, they were due to reach the Nanda Devi base camp on Friday 31 May, and the nearby village of Munsiyari on 1 June.

A spokesperson for the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) said: “We are in contact with the Indian authorities following reports that a number of British nationals are missing in the Indian Himalayas. We will do all we can to assist any British people who need our help”

These mountains can bring you such joy but also great sadness .

Link | Posted on by | Leave a comment

First day cover from my days as Team Leader.

It’s hard to believe when I found this First Day cover on a tidy up that the military had all these assets available The Nimrod, The SAR helicopters and 6 RAF Mountain Rescue Teams.

Nothing stays the same and things move on few would believe that out of these three we now only have the RAF MRT at Lossiemouth, Leeming and Valley in North Wales.

The teams are still doing a superb job. Sadly the Co – Ordination the military helicopters have now been privatised and the new civilian helicopters aircraft are are a great asset.

The RAF Hercules does have a SAR capability and the new Maritime aircraft will big help for the future.

It’s amazing how time flies and how much things have changed but great to see the teams and SAR moving on from the early days.

Great memories thanks all.

Link | Posted on by | 2 Comments

It was pouring when we got up and it was a planned Moray Mountaineering bus meet to Glen Feshie. The club organised about 10 bus meets every year. Gordon the great “Bus monitor” organises it a thankless task. We managed to nearly fill our small bus due to his efforts.

Gordon and Graham two club stalwarts .

It’s hard seeing the rain battering down as we picked up the bus at Forres just after 0715 . Then it travels to Nairn and Inverness picking up more members on route . Then down the A9 watching the burns pouring of the hill and then the tight we road to the car park.

Wild river in the Feshie hills

After the heavy rain the rivers can be very dangerous care has to be taken. As always a large group went to climb one of the nearby Munro depending on the rivers others had a walk to the wonderful bothy at Ruigh Aiteachan that has been refurbished. It’s a busy area for Duke of Edinburgh Groups as it was today.

Photo Gordon MMC

The two Munros in Glen Feshie group couldn’t be more different – Sgor Gaoith is craggy on its east side with long drops. There was early climbing in this area and Alpine length routes in winter that few climb nowadays. Mullach Clach a’Bhlair is the highest point on a vast plateau south-west of Braeriach and Cairn Toul. It has an estate road that takes you onto a wild plateau in bad weather that can be tricky in high winds and navigating.

Heather, juniper and forests cover the lower slopes, with good tracks and paths to access. Higher up, ground is pretty flat and can be very diffcult to navigate on in mist. One of our groups headed for Mullach Clach a’Bhlair : ‘summit of the stone of the plain’. Once you cross the rivers a road takes you onto the summit plateau.

From Steve Fallon website.

Video of the wild river.

I had decided to go for a wander down the Glen and maybe visit a small Glen I had never visited before . We watched the other group on the other side of the river cross and start up the hill.

The Munro baggers a happy bunch in search of their summit. A bit of rain never stops them.

Another group decided to climb a nearby Corbett. Carn Dearg Mor. They left us as we continued up to our Glen.

Though not a particularly distinguished summit,the Corbett Carn Dearg Mor has a great position on the west side of Glen Feshie which makes it a good viewpoint.

Landrover tracks aid access via the Slochd Mor to the south, whilst an alternative route is along the north ridge. I had fine this hill a while ago with some DofE groups so I wanted something new.

We crossed the river by the bridge and headed up the tarmac road( wish I had my bike) It was raining heavy at times and we took a break out of the weather in the wonderful trees. The sun keeps coming out and I even took my jacket off that was soaked. We could see the others heading up the track on to the Munro.

This is a wonderful place with the trees and erosion by the vast amount of water and the erosion of the river banks. There is a great attempt to re wild this estate by the current owner and I think he is doing so well. It’s great to see the estate looking so well.

Big Glen Big space !

The Bridge has been gone for many years that takes you over to the bothy. I hope one day it will be replaced but it will be a costly business .

The missing bridge ! ted bothy. TERRAIN Rough path up east side of glen with burn crossings; tarmac on west side. Please note: Carnachuin Bridge was swept away in 2009; a replacement may be built in future. At present it is only possible to walk up the east side of the Feshie to the bothy as an out and back route. Do not attempt to cross the Feshie at the bridge site.

Break in the forest and the sun is out.

It was great to get off the tarmac road and then head up the remote Glen Slochd Beag. It was a fun wander up a old stalkers path to see the waterfall near the beleach. This is rough ground so wild yet so wonderful with the waterfalls falling down the hillside. I was in no rush stopping and seeing the view. The flowers are out and the dreaded midges hiding. Colours changed greys became blue skies and then the rain came sweeping in. It was ever changing.

The wild Glen and it’s heathery steep hillsides.

The rain came down even more then stoped and we sat and enjoyed the view then the sun came out.

The waterfalls were still pouring down and there is scope for winter climbing here. I thought if Andy Nisbet was alive I would have sent him photos he would most likely have climbed them.

It’s a wild place with steep craggy hillsides lots of thick Heather and scree and so much space.

The high moorland above would be heavy walking today off the paths. In winter this is a wild place as I know from previous visits.

The waterfall with the rain sweeping in.

Time was moving on I headed down, the sun came out and shed some clothes and had a drink. I was soon down at the tarmac road and then back to meet other who had visited the 5 star bothy.

I always think of the young keeper we met on our winter traverse in 78 at Linn of Dee. We had just come off Ben Dearg a 13 hr day in deep snow. We got feed by the keeper and his wife and then stayed with a young keeper in the bothy down the road. We had and epic from Beinn Alder to Gaick and over the remote Munro’s in that Dec Walk when we were crazy and so driven.

1977 the West to East winter Traverse of Scotland.

This was when the A9 was closed due to snow. Exhausted we stayed the night with him at Linn of Dee and continued to finish the hardest 3 weeks of my life on Mount Keen after another big day on Lochnagar Munro’s and then at last Mount Keen.

A few months later we were called out on a search and sadly it was the young keeper who had died on that track in a big storm of Hypothermia . He was such a lovely young guy and I spoke to him about the hills when we had met him. Despite being exhausted I we shared a dram and I said we would met up. It sadly did not happen.

This is from the SMC Journal Mountain Accidents 1978. A great help when researching mountain accidents.

Jan 11/1/78 – A Ghillie was found dead from exposure at the Landseer Falls. Poorly equipped for the extreme weather conditions. He had set off to walk from Linn of Dee to Glen Feshie Lodge to visit a friend.

From my diary “Feshie bothy – Carn an Fhidleir-An Sgarsach-Linn Of Dee, Jim and Terry had not done these Munros so it was an incredible day. The snow was so deep we all broke Step all day changing leads in the white room all day. I was at the end of my powers after such a hard few days. It was relentless.

We nearly walked over Cornice,a  huge day at the end we were completely exhausted tricky navigation, all the time whiteout all day on the tops. JM fell in river and was very nearly exposure case, had to stop at Linn of Dee at Keepers house to exhausted to continue to Braemar.

Hardest day yet ” we were navigating to stay alive” no paths and awful ground really struggling. The toil of 20 days on the hill was telling we were on our knees at the end.

Met young keeper in bothy we were staying at who was killed the next winter 1978 in Glen Feshie in a blizzard, very sad story.” He was following our route to Feshie and got caught in a big storm.

Distance 35 kilometer’s and 1323 metres in very deep snow.

“A Life changing few days.”

Photo Gordon MMC

We had a breather they crossed the river easily and met so many enjoying the bothy.

Heading of to the sun.

We had a pleasant walk back the river had gone down and the sun was out. It’s hard to believe how wild a place this can be.

Everyone was pleased with there day the weather and rivers were kind to us and it was a happy bus that headed into Aviemore for a drink.

Many were taking about their next plans for hills and trips. It’s great to see such enthusiasm and thanks to Club for keeping the tradition of the Bus going.

It’s never easy when the rain is battering at the windows and the roads are awash. Yet it was a great day.

Thanks Gordon and the MMC for a interesting day.

please if you can and in the Moray Club support the Bus .

Sometimes Its not easy getting out of bed early at weekend when the weather is poor but it is always a lot better than you think.

Top tip/ Ella book on the bus !!!!

Link | Posted on by | Leave a comment

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-48395241

Three more climbers have died on Mount Everest, taking the death toll to seven in a week – more than the total for the whole of last year.

“The three died of exhaustion while descending on Thursday.

It comes amid traffic jams near the summit as record numbers make the ascent, despite calls to limit the number of climbing permits.

Nepal has issued 381 permits at $11,000 (£8,600) each for the spring climbing season at the world’s highest peak.

Two Indian climbers – Kalpana Das, 52, and Nihal Bagwan, 27 – died while scaling back down the mountain on Thursday.

Three more climbers have died on Mount Everest, taking the death toll to seven in a week – more than the total for the whole of last year.

.” BBC News

Again tragedy has struck the mountain and when you see the photos of the queues on the ridge it makes me shudder. 

The BBC article tries to  explain why some of the accidents happen. Yet at these great heights even the best get caught out and if you add too many on the same route/ rope and so many varying  degrees of experience and competence it can be a disaster waiting to happen.

I was lucky to part of an unguided team that went from Tibet in 2001.

The ascent from the North Tibet is in my mind a lot safer as there is no ice fall to go through. Yet there were tragedies when we were on the hill.

We were all great pals and knew each other for many years and our limitations and strengths. 

On our trip there were a sadly few deaths on the mountain and they all happened high up.

I could see then how some people treat this incredible mountain it is a huge peak with lots of problems.

I was lucky to be with a strong team of pals and 6 great Sherpa’s. We assisted on several Rescues as did our Sherpa’s and others .

My job was the Base Camp Manager and I had a lot  on but we assisted with the Rescues when we could and I was lucky that there were other extremely strong teams on the mountain who saved lives very high up.

One team led by Eric Simenson –   The 2001 Mallory & Irvine Research Expedition which conducted the world’s highest archaeology project and culminated with the accomplishment of the highest mountaineering rescue in history. They had some of the most accomplished high altitude climbers on their trip and helped save lives. They did several Rescues above 8000 metres which were incredible well worth reading about these Rescues.  There are a limited few who can cope with this at the extreme altitudes.

 

There were also a few operators working on very tight budgets and limited experience.

We regularly helped where we could but in the end we had only enough spare equipment I. E Oxygen if we had a snag to our own team.

As we had a Doctor/ Climber Brian Kirkpatrick he was a busy man all the time  and a great Doctor and mountaineer.

At the end of the expedition our boys we were the only ones left on the mountain as three of our team tried again to get the summit after Dan and Rusty’s ascent.

All the other teams had left after a big storm, the place was deserted. I had a worrying few days at ABC the weather was so bad we feared for our team. I doubt if anything could have been done if they had a problem.

I was so glad when we heard they were coming down and watching the descent down the North Col alone on that huge face was scary.

When they came down it was only me at Advanced Base Camp at 21300 feet. The rest of the team were a day away at Base most were totally exhausted from the Expedition.

The North Col.

The next day I went to the North Col over 7000 metres to help the Sherpa’s clear the hill.

I would be the only non Sherpa up there it was an incredible experience and made my trip.  Going up that tattered fixed rope on that mountain was an experience that few ever get and to be there without the crowds was my summit.

That was one of the most incredible places to be alone as the Sherpa’s cleared the hill. Everyone was gone yet we were still there.

The true heroes of Everest. Our great team of Sherpas.

Yet Everest is a wonderful place I went into the West ridge alone twice earlier on and  found the old camps that the 1930 expeditions used and met only two Americans who were trying the North Face. They were alone and the scale of the of this face is incredible.

This huge Face is another side of the Mountain that few see. On the normal route it is hidden from view and you can see why the original expeditions went this way thinking this was the key to climbing the route.

The Huge North Face

This was what this mountain meant to me and many other its so big and wonderful and yet so peaceful.

I had no thought of the summit just to be there was my summit.  Everest away from the crowds is magical it was superb, now it seems even an ascent from Tibet to be a different place. The huge interest in climbing the worlds highest mountain by so many who have the cash!

At the end of the trip we cleaned up the Advanced Base Camp while the rest of the team down nearly 4000 feet below at Base Camp.

After a few days I left early at first light and walked down ahead alone to Base Camp it was along  6 hour trip.  I was now well acclimatised after 3 months in this place.  It snowed and the weather was poor, yet you felt really strange on a trail of new snow cover with no one about.

Now and then the North Ridge and the summits would clear and you could see the pinnacles it was a marvellous sight.

I could drink this place in for the last time and though not getting high on the mountain it had been some trip.

Approach to the North Col

Few will ever experience what I felt that day even those who summit . This to me was Everest and its sad to see what is happening on the mountain and how many lives are lost.

Many are chasing a dream a tick list and few would make anywhere near this place without the huge support of the Guides and Sherpa’s.

Yet it will continue to pull people their dreams and many more will lose their lives for what.

Sadly things will have to be sorted by the Nepal and Tibetan authorities  the numbers cut down. I wonder if things will change and what would the effect be on the economies of these Countries.

Yet those who will continue to chase the mad rush for this the ultimate summit will they accept this, I wonder?

I have just heard that two more have died one from Ireland and the other from the UK.

As ever my thoughts are with the families and those on the hill.

Sad times indeed.

 

 

 

 

Link | Posted on by | 2 Comments

What a day two Corbett’s in Ardgour – Fuar Bheinn and Cruach Bheinn and a visit to the Voodoo Crash site on Meal Odhar.

From the Corbett’s and other Scottish Hills,

Hamish Brown describes Ardgour as “There is a feel of an Island to Ardgour it is nearly surrounded by water and reached as like or not by ferry.” His book “Climbing the Corbetts” holds a wealth of knowledge and is one of my best loved books. I re read it again and again.

Loch Linne

It was a magical long day for me away early from the bunkhouse at Strontian these These Ardgour Corbett’s are hard work . Its even an interesting drive to the hills  the road is just above the sea in places with cliffs above. I had once tried to do all the Ardgour Corbett’s over the weekend as training for Tranter’s round it was epic to me these were the harder day.  Memory fades The first hill Fuar Bheinn is over some hard ground no path such great hills but to get there you start more or less from sea level. Lucky the ferns are not high yet. but it was a big pull up onto the ridge and then it’s good walking.

I had parked the van at Kingairloch and headed up. There was a cuckoo as my early morning call and lots of flowers the bluebells still hanging on it was beautiful but the ground was so dry I was glad I had lots of fluid with me.

Top Tip

“I like to get away early before the sun is out it’s a lot cooler”

From here the first top of the day it was a big drop down to the beleach and I lost most of my height then a plod up the first Corbett of the day Fuar Bheinn. It’s not high 766 metres but a great view point.

Great deep clefts abound

All day the views were outstanding and with a breeze great walking . There is no rush “the Retirement watch has no hands”.

How I had missed this after various illness it was a day to savour. I drunk a little and often then continued along to the bigger Corbett Creach Bhein at 853 metres it is a magical hill. It has big cliffs and gully’s. It was living up to its name mountain of spoil. There was an Eagle soaring above as I wandered to the summit soaring in the thermals,what a place to be.

Colby Camp

There is the remains of a Colby camp here just off the summit this must have been a huge undertaking when Scotland was being mapped. They made this their camp it’s big ! I cannot imagine the effort to move all these stones.

Colby Camp – The monument comprises the remains of a campsite, constructed by soldiers of the Ordnance Survey early in the 19th century as part of the first triangulation of Scotland. It is situated near the summit of Creach Bheinn at around 850m OD in open rocky grassland.

The camp is located in a shallow saddle about NNE of the triangulation station, the two joined by a well-laid footpath. The main structure of the monument is a large windbreak wall about 2.5m high protecting the W side of the camp. A small dry-stone structure around 3.5m square lies on the N side of the camp and represents the only formerly roofed building at the site. This served the joint functions of guard and cook-house. The remainder of the structures at the site consist of a further dry-stone wall on the E side, now ruinous, and four low stone circles representing the footings for tents. Three of the ‘tent circles’ lie close to the S of the stone building, while a further circle lies closer to the triangulation station. The last may have been the officer’s accommodation. Also included in the scheduling are the substantial remains of a circular stone-built platform on which the survey instruments were mounted. This lies to the SSE of the camp and is now surmounted by a concrete pillar of standard mid-twentieth century type.

Such camps are often known as Colby Camps, named after the officer commanding the Ordnance Survey at the time. The nature of the instruments of the period, the need for very precise measurements and the exigencies of Scottish mountain weather frequently necessitated lengthy stays at high altitude (in one extreme case, three months) to complete the measurements required. This survey programme laid the backbone of the mapping system that served Britain until recent advances in satellite and electronic distance measurement.

The area to be scheduled has a figure of eight plan, formed by the junction of two circles, one 100m in diameter and the second 70m in diameter. Within the larger, northern part are the stone building, windbreak walls and three of the stone tent circles.

Within the southern part of the area are the triangulation station and the fourth stone tent circle. Both areas include all of the features described plus the original footpath and an area around them in which evidence relating to their construction and occupation is likely to survive.

Wild Goats watching

It’s impressive as were the two goats on the ridge connecting to Moal Odhar. This ridge is cracking and I was going not bad I was wearing my running shoes they were ideal for the dry ground.

Heading out to Meall Odhar

This is an incredible place with the massive Corrie’s and these huge hills.

Heading up to my last hill I saw some wreckage from the USA Voodoo aircraft that crashed in May 1964. It took ages to find the aircraft unfortunately the pilot was killed. Most of the main wreckage is on the wild Corrie most of it is still there. I did not have time today but this is a hill I will come back to.

The search was hampered due to the weather and the secrecy of the aircraft this was the height of the Cold War. There are a few tales from this call out.

The Voodoo

 

The Mountain Rescue Teams were out for over a week in awful weather. I will do a full account in my blog again soon.

Wreckage from crash on summit.

There is a lot of wreckage about near the summit most is now in the far Corrie some still hangs on the cliffs. It’s a Somber place .

Wreckage on the hill

I headed of to finish the horseshoe back to the road and met a group heading up in the sun. The walk off is a great series of small hills with views to the sea.

I was tired but so happy that I was feeling okay. It was a long day 10 hours I spent lots of time looking about and then a walk back to the car in baking heat.

There was no rush nowadays and I should have fallen asleep on the hill. I was on my own a day it was a day to sit and enjoy this special day. I have not enjoyed a day like this for a while.

Great end of day walk to the sea.

Back to the bunkhouse and a treat in the restaurant to a three course meal and lots of fluid. I needed that and an early night my feet are sore I need some new running shoes for the hill. Any thoughts?

Midges are out in force now at the bothy but I am tired but very pleased.

Thanks to Kalie and Terry for being my safety persons I love being the hills on my own. I get time to think .

It’s Mental Health Awareness Week thinking of all those out there.

Great day – what will tomorrow bring.

Ardour Corbett’s and a few more from Hamish Browns great book “Climbing the Corbett’s.”

Link | Posted on by | 2 Comments

I had written in depth about the Shackleton Crash it reminds you of difficult times. It was good to go out and walk round the Hopeman Golf Course yesterday it was a stunning day.

It clears the head.

The birds were singing especially the yellow hammers their chorus was incredible. They seem to love the golf course and the bright yellow Gorse and there chatter is full on.

They are a huge attraction to me and many others what a stunning bird and sound they make .

Yellowhammer (Emberiza citrinella) Yellowhammers are resident all year round, except in north and northwest parts of Scotland (Highlands of Scotland and certain lowland areas i.e. Inner Hebrides and Orkneys), where they are summer visitors only.

it was great to be out and though not playing just to be out in the fresh air was superb. I had not seen the local

Moray Dolphins this year and just of the 15 th green I saw the tell tale splash in the sea.

The Dolphins were close to the shore and in full view heading along the coast. It was incredible and I watched them for a while.

Is there anything better to see ? We all watched no matter how often we see them it was so exciting to see.

I never tire of seeing them, they bring such a warming to your heart.

There is the Dolphin Centre at Spey Bay well worth a visit.

Welcome to the Scottish Dolphin Centre


Visit the WDC Scottish Dolphin Centre for the chance to see the amazing bottlenose dolphins of the Moray Firth. Enjoy beautiful walks along the tumultuous River Spey, spot a seal or osprey, and discover Spey Bay’s fishing heritage during a tour of the historic Icehouse. Entry to the centre is FREE.

Go and visit and if you see the Dolphins there are not many things that are better.

Check up on Friday for my eyes great to be out though!

Link | Posted on by | Leave a comment

This photo was taken yesterday – The Shackleton Memorial on Modal Harris photo taken by D McLeish taken on the 29 th Anniversary 30/4/19.

This was from a friend who ran the Crash Guard team after we left Harris we handed the site over to them and the Crash and Smash.

“Dear me Heavy is it 29 years !! I spent the best part of 3 weeks out there as Crash Guard Cdr as you know . I knew the crew too. Andy Watkins and Phil Casley built the memorial for me .

We hid the spark plug in the peat from the AAB , I was threatened with court martial by the AAB but the Stn Cdr backed us.

Tough one .

I sent the team into Stornaway to let their hair down and the police put them up in the cells, leaving the doors open and giving then bacon rolls !

And We got a ride on a C130 two days later not fair . Yes they also sent out a team of Psychiatrists to assess us after 10 days Heavy , more or less one of the first test cases in the field post Lockerbie , to say we were not that amused is an understatement .

Andy and I ran them up the hill …Andy carried a bag of cement up! I pulled in a piper and we had a memorial service once we cleared the site . ”

My reply

Thank you that is interesting as we were offered nothing in the way of Counciling and we located and moved all the casualties of the hill. That was not easy even for my seasoned troops.

That was not a task for anyone to do . I had asked for help during Lockerbie for the troops and at the time many thought I was mad especially those in charge . This was only 3 years after that and Kinloss MRT were not there so had not been subject to the horrors.

Sadly I was proved in many cases and we did need help. It took years for the military and the Emergency Services to appreciate this. It also took years for many of the team to come to terms with that as well.

Thanks for that part of the story I will add it to my piece today if that’s ok?

It’s amazing to read the responses and most will be glad to know the Memorial is looking good thanks to Dianne for visiting it yesterday.,

This is from Davy Walker

“you’ll be glad to hear that Lossie refurbished the memorial @7 years ago. I hope it’s still fairing well. We took some of the crews relations to the site and l was able to brief them on the crash etc. Very sad experience all those years ago.”

There is lots of information on this book on the crashes in the Islands including the Shackleton.

Link | Posted on by | Leave a comment

Shackelton AEW MK2 WR965. 30th April 1990 Grid reference NF 996914

 

The RAF Mountain Rescue was formed during the Second World War to rescue aircrew from crashed aircraft in the mountains of the UK. To this day the 3 RAF Teams that still survive are still called to carry out some difficult recoveries of aircraft both Service and civilian in the mountains. This is the sad story of this incident and the part played by the RAF Kinloss Mountain Rescue Team where I was the Team Leader on the 30 th April 1990.

This article is in memory of the crew of the Shackleton.

Wing Commander Stephen Roncoroni

Wing Cdr Chas Wrighton

Flying Officer Colin Burns

Squadron Leader Jerry Lane

Flight Lieutenant Al Campbell

Flight Lieutenant Keith Forbes

Master Air Electronics Operator Roger Scutt

Flight Sergeant Rick Ricketts

Sergeant Graham Miller

Corporal Stuart Bolton

It was a beautiful day at RAF Kinloss which is situated on the North East coast of Scotland. Unusually a lot of the Mountain Rescue Team had gathered in the crew room . It was lunch time when I was told on the phone by the Aeronautical Rescue Coordination Centre (ARCC) and there was a Shackleton aircraft missing from RAF Lossiemouth. It had been on a Training sortie from Lossiemouth and was last seen near Benbeculla, near the Isle of Harris on the West Coast of Scotland.

I was told a helicopter from Lossiemouth a Sea King would be at Kinloss in 10 minutes and would take 10 of my team to the area. This is called a “fast party” a quick fast response to any incident.

10 Minute’s is not long to get ready for a pick up by helicopter and to collect your thoughts”

In these circumstances 10 minutes is not long to prepare and the teams have a long established protocols to ensure we have the correct equipment to carry out any rescue. We managed to get to the aircraft pan ready for the Sea king Helicopter which landed rotors running and we were off!  In an aircraft crash information is coming in all the time, from the ARCC.  As The Team Leader I was getting constant updates from the aircrew and passing the information on to the team members in the back of the noisy helicopter not easy.

“I was up front with the crew on headphones the radio full of information”

In any incident the helicopter flies flat out on a Rescue especially, when it is an aircraft from their station at Lossiemouth, nothing was spared. I was up with the pilots and getting all the updates on my earpiece. There are so many things going on in your head as the Team Leader and you are very busy. The flight to Harris was about 60 minutes and as we neared the last known position we were picking up the aircraft beacons in the helicopter which meant the aircraft in trouble and had crashed. Due to the remoteness of the area I spoke to my control the ARCC from the helicopter and asked for the rest of the RAF Kinloss team to be sent immediately to assist.

As we neared the crash site the noise from the beacons was intense and we feared the worst. The crash had occurred near the village of Northton on a small hill called Modal about 800 Feet above the sea. The only cloud in the whole of Scotland was over the crash site and the helicopter dropped us as near as they could to the incident. It was like the scene from a battlefield, a tangled mess of a once proud aircraft and the casualties, all fatal scattered around, memories that still haunt me to this day.

 

“At times like these even in the middle of such carnage the Mountain Rescue Team has a job to do and we are all as professional, sadly most of us had seen these sights before”.

A few shocked locals had managed to get to the crash and were relieved to see us and leave the horror of such a place. There was very little chance of any survivors. All 10 were dead. 10 Families lives wrecked, 10 folk not coming home that day.

Wreckage scattered everywhere.

Our first task is to ensure that all the casualties are accounted for and then to secure the crash site. All the fatalities have to be left in place as there will be a  Investigation Team on scene as soon as possible. The Police were there but due to the remoteness this would be an easy site to control and we needed to ensure that is was secure and this was done with great tact and diplomacy. Our next task is to secure the site which was still on fire in places and ensure there were no classified materials about.

 

“It was grim work but most of my team on the helicopter were veterans of such scenes, I had been heavily involved with the Lockerbie Disaster, we did what we had to do”.

 

Once things were organised at the scene I walked back down to the road about half a mile from the scene. It was surreal already the locals had put a small caravan in a lay-by and the ladies had a welcome cup of tea for us. They were wonderful people with typical Highland hospitality and care, which my team would need later on. They were so kind to my team and helped in the difficult days that we had ahead.

The cloud had cleared and this was one of the most sad but beautiful places in Scotland.  The local Police, firemen  were on scene along with the Coastguards and the site was secured awaiting the Board of Enquiry, no casualties could be moved until the Police and the Procurator Fiscal arrived. My team guarded the scene and took photos and mapped the site out, standard procedures for an aircraft incident.

 

The aircraft was guarded through the night and all  the local people were so helpful to us all.”

The majority of the team who were still at Kinloss were flown to Stornoway by a HS 125 jet  aircraft and by Hercules aircraft complete with our Mountain Rescue vehicles, they were all on scene by 1600, an amazing piece of organisation.

I never found out who was on in the ARCC  at Pitreavie in Fife who organised this out when I asked for help”.

In the end I had 27 Team members, the 4 Tonner vehicles’ arrived by Ferry the same day! In the end all were needed to move the 10 casualties form the hill. Within 24 hours the Board of Enquiry have to be briefed and taken up the hill along with the Police and not an easy task.  Once the site had been visited later on by the Board of Enquiry the team then receives permission to remove all the casualties from the scene, a hard and difficult task.

Few will understand but this is our job and we did it with great respect for the crew as we could

It’s hard to believe that I fought with the authorities for a while to ensure the team stayed in a Hotel at Tarbet during the grim task. We had to guard the site and after moving the casualties we needed to get simple things like showers and cleaned up. We needed that and it gave those who were not on shift a break away from the hill and the trauma.

After 3 days on scene we handed over the crash site to RAF Lossiemouth crash guard who were there for several weeks working with the investigation board. Most of the team and vehicles’ flew out that day from Harris in a Hercules aircraft ahead of all the casualties who were in another aircraft. We flew into Lossiemouth and drove through the camp for the short journey to Kinloss. The whole camp at RAF Lossiemouth lined up as we drove through a very moving experience, waiting for their fallen comrades. It was then back to normal, most of the team straight back to work we had been away for 4 days.”

“Sadly some Bosses were annoyed that the part time team member’s  had been away from work for so long how little they knew what my team had done”.

I went back to my home and my partner and the kids as did most of the team, few would understand what we did but we did our job as always and rarely spoke about it in these days.

 

“It was a moving experience for us all and one I will never forget”      I had a great team seasoned after years of Rescues all over Scotland yet this was an event few will forget, These were the early days before PTSD was acknowledged. After Lockerbie is was a reminder to me and I had a lot more knowledge hard won to look after my team who as always were superb.    

A few years later I revisited the crash site in Harris. The drive down was in driving rain but as we got nearer to Tarbet the weather cleared to bright sunshine and the hills had a smattering of snow. As we got nearer to the site the sun, blue seas, surf and clear sandy beaches made this a sad but beautiful place to be. Though the hill is only small by mountaineering standards, it’s fairly steep as it starts from sea-level. Memories came flashing back of the accident and even the superb beauty of this special place made it a difficult wee walk. Nature has as usual sorted things out and the scars on the hill are covered by heather and peat, occasional bits of wire and small pieces of metal remain of a fairly large aircraft.

 

The memorial on the top commemorates the crew of the Shackelton “Dylan” and details of the aircraft with the words “We Will Never Forget” inscribed on a memorial on the summit. It faces West the inscription is getting the worse of the weather and may need replaced within the next few years.  I think this has been done.

 

On the summit the views were immense, unsurpassed with unique Island scenery of mountains and the sea and the fresh snow enhancing everything.  After spending some time on the top, with the wind it was fairly cold, we left that beautiful, though sad place, with a wee prayer for the crew and wondering how many people know of this place.

 

I will never forget what happened that day and how tragic the crash site was even to hardened mountain rescue men. The RAF Mountain Rescue Team carries out a complex job at times but I am proud of what my team did over these few days.

 

 “I will never forget the wonderful help we received from the Police, Coastguards and these magnificent people from North Harris who treated us so well over a terribly difficult 3 days. Thanks to all, from all of us”.

 

Footnote; It should be noted that the RAF Kinloss Mountain Rescue Team has been at least two other Shackleton Crashes in their role in RAF Mountain Rescue. The first was on the 21 December 1967 when a Shackleton crashed at Lochailort near Fortwilliam killing all 13 of the crew. The team were involved in the recovery all over the Festive period until the 8 January. I met the son of the navigator of this aircraft who came to visit RAF Kinloss in 2007, 40 years after his father died, a very moving day for me. I took him and his wife around the Rescue Centre the ARCC where I was on shift. From here we went to the Mountain Rescue Section at Kinloss and tried to answer all his questions, which he wanted answers for many years. In addition the team were also involved in the Shackleton Crash at the south end of the Mull of Kintyre killing all 11 of the crew on the 19 April 1968, the RAF Kinloss team were there till the 23 April.

 

“All these terrible incidents make a huge impression on the RAF Mountain Rescue Teams and the team members and are never forgotten by those who were involved. Sadly this was our job.”        

 

“Lest We Forget”

 

David Heavy Whalley MBE BEM.  30 April 2019

Lost to the Isles 1945 -1990 gives a good account of this and other aircraft crashes.

This is the final book

in the series as the Second World War enters its final stages in 1945. Though sadly not before further losses occurred around the Scottish Islands. In this Fourth volume there are 35 accounts of accidents and incidents.17 occurring prior to VJ Day, with a further 18 post war taking us from WW2 turboprops to the Cold War Gas Turbines of the supersonic jet age.

The work is dedicated to all those who lost their lives and to those who survived against incredible odds.

Link | Posted on by | 2 Comments

It was another early start yesterday and my second eye op in Glasgow at the Eye Clinic. After a thorough check in my eye that was in good order that was done yesterday All was fine. The next operation went well and I was out in the morning with my now customary patch over my eye. The operation is incredible technology so efficient and I must have signed about 100 signatures explaining I know the risks.

The world is so worried about being sued. Imagine on a Rescue if we had to sign for every dangerous situation ? Or in Mountaineering ? What has happened in this world?

I had a good wander round Glasgow again and a lazy afternoon. The eyes were a bit sore but hopefully I will get the all clear today.

It seems to have gone well and just the ritual of eye drops 4 times a day to sort.

I had to have my eyes done as the Cataracts were getting worse and impending on my hills and life. Sadly the NHS cannot keep up with the operations and it would have meant another winter of worsening eyesight. I get great joy reading and writing but reading was out (using audible books) and writing getting harder to type.

I had a big fall last winter in failing light coming of the Cairngorms and that was my “eye opener ”

Cycling was also out as well and night driving not on. Hopefully all this will all be available again once my eyes settle.

Living on your own is not easy as I had to leave lights on as my sight got worse at night. It was all minor stuff but can get you down and you have to remain cheerful while others are out in the wild.

I was lucky that I could do something it cost a lot but there are so many who struggle and cannot afford to go Private. The world can be an unfair place at times yet the NHS does so much great work for so many. Yet it could do so much more if it had the resources.

It’s sad to see Glasgow with so many beggars in the street society can be so cruel. We seem to have gone backwards despite our modern society and the improvements in living standards in so many ways.

I have been offered so much help from so many and if I get the all clear will get a lift from Aviemore of the bus. I love Glasgow it’s busy and friendly but like all cities to busy for me everyone is on their phones rushing about city life I suppose. I cannot wait to get home and out on the hills and walk along the Coast and the sea .

I am so lucky to be reasonably fit sadly I have a few pals with Cancer just now. They both mean so much to me. My little problem is nothing yet they both show great courage and it’s a reminder how important health and good friends and family support are.

“Health is wealth” and so is the courage to face illness and get well. I learn every day and I am thankful for such incredible folk in my life.

Take care and again thanks to all.

Link | Posted on by | 2 Comments

It was a long warm 4 hour drive yesterday to my home town of Ayr to speak

at a fundraiser for Galloway MRT. My grand kids were heading home to England on the same day so I am glad my mind was on the drive as I miss them so much. The roads were clear the sun was out and the hills still had plenty of snow high up in the gully’s.

I was soon in Ayr and had great help setting up for my chat in the town Hall in my home town of Ayr. It is a wonderful place to speak and I cannot thank the staff enough for making me welcome and the assistance of Lynne,Bert and others involved

from Galloway MRT. It was then over to my sisters for tea an hours break and my nephew then drove me back into Ayr early to meet the Provost and Lord Lieutenant it was kind of them to come and get a bit more information on Mountain Rescue.

We had a good crowd in the hall and the night started with Galloway MRT who cover Ayrshire speaking about what they do and their team.

The kids had given me a cold And a sore throat but I managed to chat and we split the night into two halves with a raffle for the team funds.

I managed to keep my voice going and I hope I spoke enough about what the Mountain Rescue Teams do and the time they and their families give up for others. Behind every team member is a family.

The Galloway Team were at Lockerbie in 1988 along with many other Mountain Rescue teams and SARDA. I spoke about the trauma of this and other events and it’s effect on me, my family and some of my friends over the years. It’s good to see how things have changed and what a great job the Mountain Rescue Teams do. Not just in the mountains but as part of flood relief, big snows and searching for vulnerable people, This is all done as unpaid volunteers and it was good to highlight it to the audience.

Ayr is where I was born started on the hills and where my Mum and Dad brought me up. It was a great honour to speak in my home town and pass on a small bit of what Mountain Rescue means to me. I dedicated the chat to my Mum and Dad and my family my nephews were there and it was an incredible night. I spoke about looking after the environment and my Cycle to Syracuse last year on the 30 th Anniversary of Lockerbie. The team I went with and meeting the families of those who died. The great folk of Lockerbie and surrounding area who did so much for us all. These are the true heroes who never get spoken about the Mums, Grannies who fed us and gave us great kindness that I will never forget. The efforts of the Mountain Rescue Teams the Police and all the other Agencies involved. I was emotional as I spoke about the relatives who said we brought their kids home at last with our cycle.

Bouldering with my grandkids and their Dad.

It was a great night for me full on from 0600 to after 2200. My nephew drove me back and we got the final 15 minutes of the football a real cliff hanger. It was good to unwind good to meet so many kind folk and good to be able to publicise a bit of the great work of the Galloway MRT.

Boys Brigade camp 1966 !

The early days on the hills and the Boys Brigade meant a lot to me I was given the route we did in 1967 and two old photos last night. They made my day thank you very much. These early Walks gave me a love of the hills that stay with me for life.

Spot me ? Dad with shirt off.

As you get older you look back a lot on the past and how it shapes you. The media is full of sadness and bad news yet as always there are so many good things happening. Galloway are out today looking for a missing person there always there to help and it was great to meet the team and the Police who attended the talk.

Today I head back via Glencoe to see a few pals. I am so fortunate to have been surrounded by some great good folk all my life.

As I was packing up I got a old route I did in 1967 as a member of the Boys Brigade Duke of Edinburgh Award from one of the boys who lead it. All those years ago in the Galloway hills an epic 50 miles in 3 days.

That made my night, thank you all.

Link | Posted on by | Leave a comment

My granddaughters are up from down South they are only young yet so wise already about the environment. They are aged 5 and 8.

They are staying locally at Hopeman and living next to the beach. They were telling me about how we have damaged the seas with plastics and how bad we treat the planet. They are pretty wise already about looking after the environment.

They are so interested in the environment and ask so many questions about the rocks and the planet it was great talking to them.

I wish those in charge would listen to them.

Sadly the world is dominate by wealth and the big company’s are in control. They already know we exploit the natural resources and have done over the years. There is so much damage done maybe the next generations can make a difference before it’s to late.

Out of the words of babes.

Link | Posted on by | Leave a comment

I have been invited to speak in Ayr Town Hall next Wednesday. I am speaking in tandem with a Galloway MRT a team this will mean a lot to me as over the years especially at Lockerbie where I worked with them.

It’s a great honour to speak with them in my home town of Ayr. I hope that they get a good crowd as all the money on the night will go to the Galloway Team.

The Ayr Advertiser Walk many years ago

I was brought up in the town and very lucky we had the beach nearby and plenty of space to grow up. I got my love of the hills from my family in Galloway,Arran and with the Boys Brigade on expeditions. I loved the area and it’s people so it will be good to be back.

It was a love of these wild places that gave me a lifetime on the mountains all over the world.

Early days with the RAF Mountain Rescue Team.

I had a great time in Ayr and owe my family and pals a lot. I was a bit wild then and was lucky to join the RAF and have a good life with the Mountain Rescue for 40 years. I hope I can share some of my tales in my home town.

So if you live near Ayr it would be great to see you on Wed 17 April at the town hall. Tickets will be available at the door.

I hope to be able to pass on my love of these places some of the folk I have met along the way. Also the many adventures on the mountains and over 1000 rescues.

It should be a good night.

Link | Posted on by | Leave a comment

Missing my sister Jenifer on her birthday.

Yesterday would have been my sisters Jenifer’s birthday she sadly passed away suddenly a in 2016. It was a huge shock to us all and how we all miss her everyone

She was one I could talk to about anything and despite the news we could always laugh at times.   Many of life crisis, health, family, love, career and so many other topics were discussed. Jen was always a listener and then would advise once I had has my say. I got to know her well when she nursed her husband for so many years until he moved into a Care home and she was there every day till he passed away. 

Jenifer always saw the good in most of us and was always there in times of need and support!

I was so lucky to have had her in my life  and also two other great sisters Eleanor who I lost this year and Rosemary who miss them both dearly.

It was a hard first visit to my home town after

She passed away and realising she was not there, but this is life and you have to enjoy what you have.

It is so hard also for my brother in Bermuda who is so far away.

My sister in my Dad’s old church in Ayr the flowers were dedicated to her by the family and as we all love flowers  like she did it is a great way to remember her!

She would love it but would never want any fuss. A typical Scottish lady.

may-meadow-flowers

Photo Kim Bates 

My thoughts are with her family Stuart, Caroline and their families. 

Always make time for those you love that are dear to you! Never put off that visit or call . Even in these busy times in life cherish those you love and be their like Jenifer was for us in times of need.

Miss you Jen xxx

jen-my-sister

Posted in Family | Leave a comment

1960 United States Martin Mercator Crash on Karfanfil Dag in the Taurus Mountains of Turkey.

 Continued from yesterdays blog

The next day the weather was poor and it took 5 hours to reach the wreck the snow was waist deep in places. At the crash site the temperatures were very low -27  and the bodies of the crew were frozen, they located three more bodies and said a prayer at the main wreckage site, it must have been another awful scene for the Rescue Team.

Only one American reached the site that day. They team were too exhausted to carry the casualties off the hill as the weather got worse and some were already starting to see the first signs of frostbite.

This was very different weather as many of the team had never worked in such conditions and few only in Cyprus.

Again for the third night more snow fell and the RAF Team using the heavy Thomas Stretcher only managed to bring another body down, again it took 5 hours to reach the site.

Two Star Red a great read very hard to get nowadays. Two Star Red a great read very hard to get nowadays.

On the 24 th the weather cleared and the American’s offered many of the villagers money to assist, the team brought down another body and thought that was the end of their efforts.

Unfortunately for some of the team the Americans requested longer assistance from the team. Luckily the weather held allowing a helicopter to take three of the US Naval Investigation Team to an altitude of 6800 feet.

From here it was only one and a half hours to the crash site. Emmerson and Murphy were investigating the point of impact on the cliff by climbing a crack from below they were roped and the route seemed moderately difficult.

The Nose section of the plane was hanging by cables and the aircraft guns were impaled in the crack like pins. It must have been a scary experience as there were several tons of aircraft hanging from this.

It was decided to leave things be and future snow may add to the weight and in time bring it all crashing down. Six of the team stayed on and assisted the US Investigation Team while the rest flew back to Cyprus.

The events of the next few days must have been harrowing for all concerned but as always the job was done. From this date the Cyprus Team held annual expeditions in Turkey and did many climbs in the area over the years gaining vital area knowledge and new skills.

They mapped many areas and still to this day have English names in the Taurus mountains.

Mountain Rescue in Cyprus had dealt with two tragic air crashes that had changed the team for good, huge lessons were learned and the team training improved. This was a very important part of RAF Mountain Rescue History. Those involved should be very proud of their efforts.

Posted in Aircraft incidents, History, Mountain rescue, Recomended books and Guides | Leave a comment

Cycle to Syracuse: Looking back on a very wet cycle ride from Edinburgh to Lockerbie. 70 miles of heavy rain but with such incredible people. Thank you all the support crews and the riders.

A year on.

Cycle to Syracuse: Looking back on a very wet cycle ride from Edinburgh to Lockerbie. 70 miles of heavy rain but with such incredible people. Thank you all the support crews and the riders.

Nearly a year ago it was an early rise up at 0500 and away from Edinburgh to Lockerbie for the 0730 Cycle event . I was with my pal Mark Hartree who was with me in the RAF Mountain Rescue Team involved in the Tragedy 30 years ago.

The weather was for 100 % rain all day and it was right. The drive over was in the dark and we followed the route we would take. The high point the Beeftub a big pull on the bike was covered in mist and driving rain but it was not too cold this would be a taxing cycle.Luckily when we stopped the mist was down and with the darkness This is a wild place. Thankfully there was little wind hence no windchill but nothing would stop that rain!

Another pal Scouse Atkins who was also with me in the Mountain Rescue Team would meet us in Lockerbie he was coming by by train from the South. He like Mark at the time were just very young men. It was a great honour to be supported by these two strong men.

We arrived and booked in at the Lockerbie Academy over 100 riders were there and it was pouring. My pal Scouse would be late as the rain had delayed trains this was some weather. He was coming from the far South and had left in the middle of the night. 

This event included a coordinated loop of Lockerbie Town by the cyclists to the two memorial locations (Park Place and Sherwood Crescent) and the laying of wreaths prior to commencement of our Group ride to Edinburgh Castle. This was a emotional start to the day and we were piped through the town and split into two groups to pay our respects to the 11 locals who died in the tragedy. Myself Mark and Scouse waited at the memorial in Park Place alone. It was so different from 30 years ago. The crowds had left for the main cermony, I needed some time on my own. The local folk were still there yet it was early on a Sunday morning. I spoke to an elderly lady she knew we had been there on that tragic day, The emotion was hard and I was crying.  I was so pleased that Scouse and Mark they were there with me their support was superb. I would need it. I had looked after them they woud look after me.

Leaving Lockerbie to lay the wreaths.

We were then in 4 groups in staggered starts it was a massive organisation with the Incredible supporters who fed us and looked after our safety all day a huge thank you! The rain came down all day it was very tricky cycling huge puddles and we had a time limit to get to to Edinburgh.

The local Cycle Club the Feechan Flyers we’re heavily involved and looked after so well. Thank you all.

The roads to MOFFAT were so wet and there were some huge puddles and potholed but the “Blood bikes” were out and advising us of any dangers! You still had to be so careful in those conditions. It was so wet even with the best of gear. The support was immense and hot drinks food and soup were available at various stations.

Mark (2ba) and Scouse thanks!

The Beeftub is a long pull up hill and in the rain it was hard going limited views but with great support I made it. Troops being troops said as I struggled “I did not know this was a “slow cycle race ” thank you Mark! It was cold on the way down the hill so we stopped only for a few minutes some food and then it was on. Mark has some photos that may show my pain!

By now you are half way and it’s still hard going to Edinburgh. The last 10 miles was through the town were scary but we made it after 5 hours cycling to the Haymarket Station. We were soaked but happy . Mark and Scouse had to leave as poor Scouse train was delayed and Mark was taking Fiona out for her birthday. I changed into a dry top for the procession to the Castle. Many shivered a lesson there and the old hill knowledge kicks in. I cannot thank them enough in 1988 they were like most of my team young men I was so proud of them and what they did as did all involved. They grew up in that wild December night in 1988. Like all of us involved it changed our lives for ever.

My two pals who helped me so much thanks Scouse and Mark.

After terminating at Waverley Rail Station for a regroup and refresh all cyclists will be escorted to Edinburgh Castle at 17:15hrs to meet with non-cyclist invited guests and dignitories for a celebratory gathering and refreshments within the Castle’s great hall between 18:00hrs and 20:00hrs. It was a long wait at the Station but time to reflect. My kit was soaked but I had fresh gear as back up. We changed in the platform getting hot drinks from all the support crews they were supperb.

We were piped up to the Castle there were so many tourists it was a great end and so humbling! The event in the Great Hall was inspiring as Syracuse University was there in force. The speeches were moving and the Great Hall was magnificent.

My sisters  and brother in law, Kallie a friend and Jan one of the Dog handlers who was with me at Lockerbie all these years ago were with me. It was a great end to the day.

We were delighted to have the support of the UK Government, who have facilitated this unique opportunity for the cyclist and non-cyclist guests to gain access to the Edinburgh Castle post-cycle hospitality.

With some of the Syracuse folk.

It was then stay the night in Edinburgh my bike went back with the boys to Lockerbie . I had a meal a dram and an early night! I travelled back next day to get my bike in my wee van. It was a bitter cold Sunday the wind in Lockerbie was like a knife as I walked to collect my van from the school. I had caught the train down for Edinburgh where I had stayed the night. I was alone in the town in the early morning in Lockerbie, the crowds were gone and I found it hard going back especially alone. I had to wait to get the car park opened for my van but Paul one of the Cycle to Syracuse Team came over and looked after me. He showed me round the Fire Station where I had been advised by the fireman that we could do little that dark night in 1988. Paul is a proud fireman and so proud of his town he was a great help to me. We had a cup of tea in the fire station, he showed me the log book of that fateful night. I had lots of memories flashing back.   I was soon heading home it had been a hard weekend. I stopped as always near Dalwhinnie the hills were clear I had a walk cleared my head and felt better. It was going to be a hard few weeks ahead.

What a day!

Summary It was a huge effort massively emotional huge support from everyone and special thanks to Colin Dorrance who had the vision for this incredible event.

Looking back in 2009 I caught a terrible chest cold that day as the soaking all day and the wait at Edinburgh before the Castle a gave some of my warm clothing away. The constant soaking I developed into a chesty cough that was to cause me magor problems when we went to the USA in 10 days time. Before that I had my freind and leader of our Everest Expedition in 2001 Ted Atkins Celebration of life. He had died tragically after a fall in the Dolomites a few weeks before. I had been asked to give his Eulogy in Arran that was so hard. It was a hard few days before we left for the USA  and I was exhausted. That day in Edinburgh was incredible though. My sister Eleanor had Terminal cancer yet she walked up to the Castle few knew she was so ill, she was incredibly brave. Sadly we lost her this year in 2019. My cough developed into bronchitis and nearly Pneumonia in the USA  is still with me but it was all worth it. Mentally the whole trip cleared a lot of demons.

Life can be hard but it helps to be outstanding folk with you. A year on thank you all the Cycle to Syracuse Team all the supporter crews, the families who lost loved ones and all those involved in 1988 in all the Rescue and recovery agencies and of course the great people of Lockerbie. I received so many letters and such support they all meant so much.

Thank you all     Heavy Oct 2019

heavywhalley

Nearly a year ago it was an early rise up at 0500 and away from Edinburgh to Lockerbie for the 0730 Cycle event . I was with my pal Mark Hartree who was with me in the RAF Mountain Rescue Team involved in the Tragedy 30 years ago.

The weather was for 100 % rain all day and it was right. The drive over was in the dark and we followed the route we would take. The high point the Beeftub a big pull on the bike was covered in mist and driving rain but it was not too cold this would be a taxing cycle. Luckily when we stopped the mist was down and with the darkness This is a wild place. Thankfully there was little wind hence no windchill but nothing would stop that rain!

Another pal Scouse Atkins who was also with me in the Mountain Rescue…

View original post 1,377 more words

Posted in Mountaineering | Leave a comment

Winter Shakedown ?

It is in winter that the Scottish Mountains Excel

No one who has seen the skyward thrust of a snow peak, girdled by its early morning cloud and flushed with the low sun, will dispute with me.

Follow a long ridge of encrusted snow to its sunset tower and tread the summit at moonrise. W.H Murray

This is Scottish winter climbing!

Every year in our Mountaineering Club we try to run a winter skills day. This hopefully lets the new club members get some tips for winter Mountaineering. No matter how experienced you are I feel everyone should have shakedown in winter skills every year. Every year in the RAF Mountain Rescue Teams we had a winter skills weekend where all the team took part. It involved many winter skills including ice axe breaking walking in crampons and understanding winter conditions including Avalanche Awareness. It set us up for the winter yet every year and I learn something new! In winter you have to carry more gear so you need to be fit to cope with this and challenging conditions of snow, changeable weather and shorter daylight.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

T

I always get asked about winter boots, what to buy. Your comfy boots from the Summer are lightweight and with a worn sole are not the thing for winter. In my view Boots are probably the most important item of winter equipment. The type of boots you use should vary depending on the terrain and under foot conditions you expect to encounter.

It is not the case that one pair of boots will be good for every situation you might find yourself in in the mountains. As an extreme example, a summer walk in the Hills on dry, grassy terrain will require very different footwear to ascending a Munro in winter conditions.

You need to choose your footwear carefully, as secure footwork is essential for safe mountain travel. To put this into context, around one quarter of mountain rescue incidents are as a direct result of someone taking a slip in the wrong place and becoming injured.

In summer conditions a flexible fabric or leather boot with a Vibram sole is recommended. Some folk will be happy to use approach shoes, but remember they will have little or no ankle support.

The Fannichs Sgur Mor Big Cornice photo – P Greening.

In winter, however, underfoot conditions can be very challenging. Stiff-soled boots provide the security you need, with rigid side edges and toes for creating secure footsteps and holding a crampon. On slopes which are of sufficient angle for a slip to become a fall or an uncontrollable slide, stiff soled boots are more secure because the side edges and toes are more effective at creating secure footsteps. Go to a reputable outdoor shop seek advice and take your crampons with you. It easy to buy the wrong gear.

This also involves training in the use of the ice axe and crampons. This is not so simple as it sounds and like all skills take time. Using crampons and ice axes is a skill that may save your life.

As in summer Route planning in winter the use of weather reports and Avalanche reports are even more crucial in planning your day. Ice axes are your back up in winter but just having one is not the answer. You must know how to use it.

Select an ice axe with a comfortable shaft length (55-65cm is usually best for walking) and crampons that fit your boots. Be wary if buying online; go to a reputable shop and take advantage of their expertise. Beware of dangerous fake crampons available on auction sites.

You see Regularly on the mountains in winter folk with new gear that costs lots but you can also note rarely any training. Few think buying the kit is enough yet without knowing how to use it is pointless.

When was the last time you used your ice axe or crampons? Have you been shown how to use them safely? Every winter is different all of us need to re look at what we do and how we do it.

Usually the first winter day out when the snow is down we realise we have to winterise our gear and hill bag. Sometimes this catches us out as the first day of winter conditions is a reminder to us all.

This means carrying a few more basics of course it means a bit more weight in our hill bags but most are essential winter gear and equipment. Spare gear, gloves, hat, goggles, torch plus spare batteries are essential. As it eating well before and on the mountains and its worth carrying a hot flask. Fitness in winter is needed and your plans must suit the conditions weather etc. I always have a cut off as I nowadays rarely want to be coming of the tops into the dark into unknown terrain. Your guide book times may be very limited due to weather conditions. Everything is changeable and has to be.

As a normal summer hill walker making the change to become a Winter Mountaineer is a big challenge. Yet going out in wintering the mountains is one of the most rewarding yet we need to adjust accordingly . The days are harder the conditions can make an easy summer day and expedition. Navigation skills are essential in winter most paths are covered and compasses, maps are there along with GPS to help you.

In summer the mountains become summer hillwalking. In winter there is a huge difference walking in the mountains become winter Mountaineering. A huge difference and steep learning but the benefits are huge.

http://www.mountaineering-scotland.org.uk is full of pointers and well worth a look.

Posted in Mountaineering | Leave a comment

Wee walk into Coire An’t Sneachda. Get ready for winter. Some sad news.

I managed a short walk to yesterday into the “Coire of the Snows” in the Cairngorms. The forecast was not that good stormy weather with high winds and rain. Yet I needed a short walk as I have not been out for a while.

Rainbow in the Cairngorms. Magical start to the day.
Clear on the tops.

The Cairngorm ski area was empty only a few cars. Sadly the ongoing debacle of the funicular railway is all over the media and what a shambles that is for the area. There will be limited skiers on the slopes this winter due to the lack of up lift to the ski areas. It’s well worth reading about it and the huge effect on the area..

The rain and wind meant start the day in “full metal Gortex” The wind was not bad at times but you got sudden gusts and there was a rainbow at the start of my wander. It was there all day. I was in no rush I would see what the weather would do and set off. In a few minutes your away from the car park in another world. I met one pair walking down they said it was far too windy.

Going into the Corrie.
The “thank God Boulder”

It was amazing how the weather changes so quickly and how cold it got! Then the sun came out it was typical weather no snow at all but that will come. I found out I need to update my rucksack and put in more winter kit.

Top tip:

Winter essential: Another pair of heavy duty gloves is essential and my small duvet is back in the bag for emergencies! Try hanging about for a while in a bad day if someone is hurt it gets cold. I had checked the head torch and batteries and my phone had been recharged. I always carry a small power pack as well to recharge it.

I wandered along the wind coming and going in gusts. I stopped for lunch at the big boulder just before the moraines. The “thank God Boulder” meant in the past we in Mountain Rescue had an easier carry out of a casualty as your out of the moraine, which is hard going in snow and back on the path. Here I was out of the wind where I got my flask out a bit of shelter makes it all good. The cliffs came and went with the mist and rain sweeping in at times. The cliffs were black with wee burns flowing down the routes, it’s a powerful place to be on your own. The odd gusts were strong but I just sat and was enjoying the wind and the space. The grass is now a lovely brown and the winter is not far off. These huge boulders of Cairngorm granite could all tell a story of many epics in the past. I love this wee wander it’s easy to get away from the car park and will soon be full of winter climbers.

During my break my phone was going It seemed busy there were a few texts and I noticed they were all from my Mountain Rescue troops.

My mate Kenny rarely calls so I called him! He told me the sad news that Sarah a lass who had been in the team a few years ago was dead. She was only 38 had two young kids and had been murdered. What a shock I had only seen Sarah a few years ago she was in the TA Army and was at Kinloss at a Climbing competition. She ran over had a tea some cake we caught up she seemed very happy with her young family. I offered her a lift back but typical Sarah she ran back, It would be the last time I saw her. Sitting there in the wind alone it was dreadful news. There was no way I was heading up onto the plateau so I headed down with a heavy heart.

This time the wind was with me, I passed all the familiar places the burn and the stunted trees that survive in this place. They meant a lot to me as on a bad day or Rescue or a climb it meant you were nearly home and safe. The rainbow was still there all the way down. Sarah loved winter climbing here what a sad tragic day.

Back at the van I made a few calls got some more information. I stopped of and saw two pals I needed company. It’s hard to believe that such a young lass is gone. My thoughts are with her family and young children.

Sarah on An Teallach – “”Best ever” her favourite saying. ”

Posted in Enviroment, Family, Friends, Gear, Mountain rescue, mountain safety, People, Views Mountaineering, Well being | 1 Comment