“The Fox of Glencoe” Hamish MacInnes RIP

The sad but not unexpected sad news that Hamish had passed away yesterday.

Hamish

There will be much written by many in the Mountaineering world who climbed with Hamish over the years. His exploits are legendary and so impressive.

Hamish climbed all over the World yet his passion was Scotland this was his playground, his work place. He wrote so many books of his exploits they like his films are a part of his huge legacy.

Hamish climbed all over the World yet his passion was Scotland this was his playground, his work place. He wrote so many books of his exploits they like his films are a part of his huge legacy.

In the early days of Mountain Rescue he was a true pioneer and formed the Glencoe MR Team. They were a great group of top mountaineers called “The Glencoe Mafia” and added to the many local characters keepers and shepherds they were a team in the true tradition of Mountain Rescue.

I was so lucky to meet Hamish and work with him on so many occasions. In these early days he worked with many of the RAF teams who were in at the forefront of Mountain Rescue in the early years .

Hamish in addition to being a first class mountaineer used his engineering background to make lightweight stretchers and ice axes. He designed new techniques for technical rescue all tested in Glencoe. Yet most of all he was a true mountaineer. He was also an innovative inventor who made breakthroughs in the design of ice axes that changed the face of mountaineering.

Yet he was still part of of a small Mountain Rescue team in Glencoe this World class mountaineer was one of us.

I got to know Hamish well over the years. I was in the corner of the room as a young lad as he talked about Rescues and other tales. I worked with him on the hill was amazed at his endurance and how he never seemed to feel the cold. He was ice cool in any drama and such a mountaineer. I got to know him better as I became Team Leader of the RAF Teams. He was full of advice and yet he listened to you and shared his knowledge. He had a wild sense of humour, very dry and unique.

He had so many contacts within the military he could get anything done. This was very helpful. Hamish also helped set up the Mountain Rescue Committee and he got things done and ensured the teams had a voice. He highlighted the costs of Mountain Rescue and the work of unpaid Team members to the Police and fought our corner on many occasions. He also handled the politics of Mountain Rescue advising on so many occasions.

He worked with the helicopters all the time improving systems and was a friend of so many aircrew where he was the man they trusted on a Rescue. He had many other contacts in the Special forces and had access to so many state of the art gear that he used on searches or training.

He helped the RAF teams a lot in many ways always there when our future was threatened he had the ear of many politicians over the years. If you had the problem Hamish was the man.

I think and I am proud to say we became good pals and I dropped in often to see him in his house in Glencoe. He had an incredible memory. He could produce at any time a picture of some first ascent or of a famous climber on an expedition he was part off.

Hamish stories were incredible and when he took ill a few years ago I was honoured to be part of his network that he spoke to. These were terrible time’s for Hamish and his recent film shows how grim it was for him.

Amazingly Hamish recovered he regained his memory by re reading his many books. I visited him and the stories kept coming back. Listening to Hamish he would drop the names of the famous into the conversation as if it was a normal occurrence . Chris (Bonnington) Clint ( Eastwood) Shaun ( Connery)were regular as was Michael ( Palin)and so many others.

On his recovery he had many visits from his pals. He seemed so happy so well looked after by his local carers who he sang praises of, they looked after him so well and he was fighting back to health.

He had just celebrated his big birthday( 90 ) recently and despite Covid on his birthday he was surrounded by his Glencoe pals in the garden. He was overjoyed with a special day.

I saw him recently he was still on fine form. I think he knew we would not meet again. He asked-me if I could sort out a fly past from the Coast guards. He was missing seeing his pals in the helicopters. (Over to your Bristows Helicopters.)

My last words were take care as he sat by Tom Pateys desk amongst the pictures of the mountains he loved.

I will miss his lengthy chats on the phone, the huge emails, the visits to his house his incredible memory, his stories, his dry humour, his advice but also his true friendship.

Hamish did so much for so many especially those in trouble on the mountains.

There will be so many stories and tales of this incredible man but to me he was “our Hamish” I feel we so honoured to have been a small part of the story.

Rest in peace Hamish you were one of the finest men I have ever met. How many lives did you save how many folk are indebted to you? We will never know but what a life , what adventures, what vision. What a man.

There was also a side that many did not see his care for the relatives after a tragedy on the hills was something few knew about. Hamish the man of iron had a heart of gold.

Hamish at Tom Patey’s old desk ! Photo Davy Gunn

“An Iconic Last” Hamish’s words.

“There can only be one” Highlander.

Thank you Sir

Posted in Articles, Equipment, Expeditions - Alaska - Himalayas etc, Friends, Mountain rescue, Mountaineering, Well being | 10 Comments

Special days – Glen Strathfarrar. “In the Highlands it is mountain after mountain after mountain, for ever and ever.” Thomas Wilkinson

End of the day !

I was digitalising a few slides and found this. It was taken in the late 90’s after a climb. Myself and my pal Dougie Crawford were climbing in Glen Strathfarrar a wonderful Glen in a unique location. Its a haven for those who love the outdoors. There are Four enjoyable Munro’s in the Glen and though the Glen has controlled access it make this another special place to be.

You rarely see anyone climbing here and as this photo was early on the 90’s we had climbed here a few times in the past. We had access to the gate and often stayed in the Glen for the weekend climbed the Munro’s with team members. The 4 Munro’s are in a wonderful setting the views of the “Great Glens” are incredible. I spent so many days doing these Glens especially on my Big Walks. I was often hit by high winds suddenly on these hills but what a place .

From Steve Fallon website Nowadays “ you have took seek permission to drive along a private road through a beautiful secluded glen with abundant wildlife, leads to the foot of the Strathfarrar Munros. There are 4 Munros in the range – Sgurr Fuar-thuill, Sgurr a’Choire Ghlais, Carn nan Gobhar and Sgurr na Ruaidhe – and combined with neighbouring minor summits, form a continuous chain making for a fine day’s mountain hiking. “ https://www.stevenfallon.co.uk/strathfarrar.html

My mate in the photo Dougie wrote “I remember those shiny high altitude Asolo boots these things nipping hell out of my feet…and the running commentary as we climbed from the 202 chopper…..but hey look Dave Yates…North Face and badge less.. 😂😂😂😂😂😂….pigmy gully…..can’t think why the name…us being giants and all…great times wee man.”’From my mate Dougie height 5 ft 5 !

Strathfarrar Munro’s

That day we took that photo it was bitter cold I knew there would be ice there and we had a wonderful day on lots of water ice. From the road the path leads by the stream of Loch Toll a’ Mhuic a Corrie set round with crags. There was something about going into a big cliff and picking the easiest line but always unsure of success. That day the turf was frozen and it took “drive in warthogs ice screws”that were bomb proof. It was lovely climbing great ice turf and so much fun. We never put the climb in the guide book it was just magical to enjoy the whole experience. We left the line for others to claim. At the end as we were walking off the Sea King helicopter from Lossiemouth picked us up and dropped us at our wagon. We were spoiled in these days.

We stayed in the old Broulin Lodge now repaired and looking great. Access is now by permission if you want to take transport but I have often cycled up here. The deer are often about and this Glen is part of the start of many adventures. I even climbed Lurg Mhor and it’s other lonely Munro Bidien A’ Choire Sheasgaich from here one winter. As always on a good day the views of mountains after mountains and the lonely Loch Monar dominate.

The old Lodge.

At Kinloss we did a night evacuation from Strathfarra that was an early evacuation by the Sea King using Nigh Vision Googles. It was interesting incident and we all learned a lot working our way out of the Corrie as the weather changed. I was called by the crew to help get our bearings out of the Corrie. Lucky I had climbed here in the past and new the best line out, scary days. These hills in the summer were a superb run along the ridge you keep a lot of height and how I miss these days.

1991 Night evacuation in Strathfarra

Vehicle access to Strathfarrar – https://www.mountaineering.scot/access/special-arrangements/strathfarrar

Mountaineering Scotland members wishing to explore the hills around Strathfarrar can gain vehicular access to the 17-mile private road which leads up the glen under arrangements negotiated by Mountaineering Scotland with the estates. Responsible non-motorised access to the glen on foot, bicycle or horse is available at all times.

Vehicle access suspended

Summer access arrangements for the glen have now finished for the 2020 season.

Winter access: We are currently in negotiation with the estates re winter access, which has been complicated by the COVID situation. Currently no vehicle access is permitted, however you can still bike, walk or run up the glen.

Any updates will be posted on this page, so please check back here before contacting us.

(Updated 4.11.2020)

Summer access

During the summer season (1 April 2020 to end of October) vehicle access is available to everyone, though controlled by a gate-keeper and subject to a number of conditions (see above). You do not need to advise Mountaineering Scotland if you wish to visit the glen during the summer access period.

Overnight in the Glen

It is within your access rights to access the glen using non-motorised (disabled transport excepted) at all times of day or night, including wild camping (away from road and buildings). Please camp responsibly under the guidance in the Scottish Outdoor Access Code.  

Your access rights do not, however, extend to your car, and, overnight parking is not permitted in Strathfarrar. If you wish to stay in the glen overnight you should either walk in, bike in, or arrange for someone to drop you off in the glen and then drive the vehicle out of the glen. Abuse of this arrangement could result in access to the glen for vehicles being revoked by the estate.

Deer Stalking

Deer management takes place on the Strathfarrar estates and may have implications for your walking or climbing plans.

  • The glen is closed to vehicles all day Tuesday, and closed Wednesday until 1.30pm

  • Daily opening times are:

    April               9am – 6pm
    May                9am – 7pm
    June                9am – 8pm
    July                  9am – 8pm
    August            9am – 8pm
    September     9am – 7pm
    October          9am – 6pm

  • Last vehicle access is one hour before closing time. 

  • A maximum of 25 vehicles are permitted in the glen on a given day. 

  • Vehicles can be parked at Mhullie Greens, just past Deanie power station at NH283386.

Parking:

Winter vehicle access is conditional upon members parking in the following designated locations to walk or climb the following routes or crags:

Park at Mhullie Greens / Allt Coire Mhuillidh (grid ref: NH 283386) for:

  • Strathfarrar Munros: Sgurr na Ruaidhe, Carn nan Gobhar, Sgurr a’ Choire Ghlais and Sgurr Fhuar-thuill

Park at start of the Allt Toll a’Mhuic (grid ref: NH 223392) for:

  • Strathfarrar Munros: Sgurr na Ruaidhe, Carn nan Gobhar, Sgurr a’ Choire Ghlais and Sgurr Fhuar-thuill
  • Sgurr na Muice: GR: NH228416 (covers SE, E and NE faces)
  • South top of Sgurr na Fearstaig: GR: NH225426 (covers E and NE faces)
  • Sgurr Fhuar-thuill NE face GR: NH236438
  • Creag Ghorm a’ Bhealaich N and NE faces GR: NH245434

Park at the Power Station at Gleann Innis an Loichel (grid ref: NH 183381) for:

  • Sgurr na Lapaich: GR: NH 162342 E and NE faces above the Garbh-choire GR:NH161349 E face
  • Sgurr nan Clachan Geala (the south top of Sgurr na Lapaich) GR:NH162343
  • Creagan Toll an Lochain N Face: GR NH143 -150347

Park below the dam at Grid Ref NH 203394 for:

  • Maoile Lunndaidh and An Sithean

Winter vehicle access

23/10/2020

We are awaiting confirmation of winter access for the 2020/21 season and hope to have this in place by mid-November. Please check this page for further updates.

The Land Reform Scotland (2003) Act and Scottish Outdoor Access Code do not confer a right of vehicle access to the private road through Glen Strathfarrar. Mountaineering Scotland has negotiated an arrangement with the Glen Strathfarrar estates for vehicle access over the winter period (1 November 2019 to 31 March 2020 inclusive) which applies only to Mountaineering Scotland members. 

The winter vehicle access arrangements include conditions which apply to hillwalkers and climbers, and it should be obvious to members from what follows that there are significant sensitivities around ongoing provision, due in the main to the behaviour of some individuals who have previously ignored conditions. The arrangement will therefore be subject to a review for continuity in 2020 following this winter season.

It is important to strictly observe all the conditions below, otherwise the arrangement is jeopardised for other members of Mountaineering Scotland.

There are key points to observe, to maintain the vehicular access in winter:

  • The membership benefit of vehicular access is only for access to the hills and crags, not low-level walks in the glen.
  • All members of your party must have current membership of Mountaineering Scotland.
  • Please provide the requested details to the Mountaineering Scotland office in good time.
  • It is essential to keep to the agreed details, or if needing to change them do so well in advance of arrival.
  • Remember the padlock code, and scramble it after use.
  • Take de-icer with you as the padlock can get frozen.
  • It is in everyone’s interest to take care and not drag the chain of padlocks on the ground as they can get damaged.
  • Please park only at the designated locations and do not park overnight in the glen.
  • Please do not enter the glen by vehicle before 8am.
  • PLEASE DO NOT contact the gatehouse during your visit, nor telephone glen residents for any reason, unless in an emergency of life and limb.  A padlock that is stuck is not regarded as an emergency.

Members are asked to recognise that estate staff undertake extensive stalking during the winter vehicle access period. Hill walks taking in the four Munros on the north side of the glen, and climbs on the crags accessible from the parking location at the Power Station at Gleann Innis an Loichel are unlikely to disrupt stalks, but members should be prepared to take advice from estate staff, in accordance with the requirements of the Scottish Outdoor Access Code, and note that that may be asked to change their plans.

Strathfarra – Before you go:

Mountaineering Scotland members should email us at info@mountaineering.scot or call us on 01738 493942.  

To avoid inconvenience or disappointment, contact our office between 10.00am and 3pm, Monday to Thursday. If you contact us on a Friday or on the day of your intended visit, we may not be able to inform estate staff in time for your visit and vehicle access will not be allowed.

When you contact us, please provide the following details:

  • Your name, Mountaineering Scotland membership number and telephone number
  • Specific date of your intended visit and hillwalking or climbing objective for the day – note that a date “week commencing … “ is not acceptable to the estate
  • Vehicle registration number, or state ‘hire car’ if taking a rented vehicle
  • Names and number of other occupants of your vehicle, their Mountaineering Scotland membership numbers and telephone numbers

We will pass this information to estate staff. 

If you have to change the date of your visit, you must advise us of the change before you go, in order that we can inform estate staff. Similarly, if you change your vehicle or the members of your party change, please let us know.

Posted in Articles, Hill running and huge days!, Mountaineering, People, Scottish winter climbing., SMC/SMT, Views Mountaineering, Weather, Well being, Wildlife | Leave a comment

Loch Ness Wellington aircraft 2020.

On New Years Eve in 1940 a training flight went horribly wrong when a Wellington Bomber N2980 suffered engine failure and plunged into Loch Ness.

Most of the crew was ordered to bail out, leaving the Captain and a second pilot to deal with the failing aircraft.

Luckily, the pilots spotted a nearby body of water and managed to make a perfect landing on Loch Ness – bailing from the bomber before it vanished beneath the water. Aside from one fatality when a parachute failed to open the crew survived the ordeal.

The plane, unfortunately, was lost beneath the waters of the Loch.

The wreck had lain beneath the water for almost 40 years before divers stumbled across the wreckage in almost perfect condition.

Lexi with her poem she read out !

It was finally recovered from its watery bed in September, 1985.

The Wellington Bomber

The aircraft is now in Brooklands Museum, Weybridge.

Many folk who follow the blog will know of my interest in aircraft crashes. Morayshire where I live had several RAF Aircraft Bases during the Second World War. One of those that crashed was in Loch Ness it was a Wellington Aircraft from RAF Lossiemouth.

Loch Ness Wellington 2020

This December 31st will be the 80th Anniversary of the 1940 ditching of N2980, R for Robert Wellington into Loch Ness. It is also thirty-five years since the wreckage of the Wellington was recovered for the bottom of Loch Ness, and began it’s remarkable renovation at Brooklands Museum where it now resides.

The Loch Ness Wellington 2020 Projectseeks to celebrate this anniversary by involving anyone connected with those past events, including the families of the RAF airmen who flew in Wellington N2980 and the people of the Inverness and area which by fate became the host venue for its lifting and embraced the whole activity with such enthusiasm.

ATC and British Legion standards and paraded down the isle followed by guard of honour from the ATC Standards are placed next to the unveiled plaque
Welcome by Pardre from RAF Lossiemouth
Bell to mark crash time followed by minutes silence
Recitation: A Poem by Rhiannon Naismith
prayers by Lexi and Amelia

My Granddaughter Lexi was at the ceremony In Inverness Cathedral where she and Amelia spoke a Recitation: A Poem by Rhiannon Naismith and told the story of the crash all those years ago.

Both girls were a credit to their school and their families. The service will be shown on New years night as it was filmed.

The Loch Ness Wellington 2020 Project has commissioned Ian Forsyth of DP Digital Media, Dingwall, to produce the film for the anniversary commemoration. It which will feature the lifeboat from Loch Ness RNLI, a helicopter from the HM Coastguard at Inverness Airport and IX Squadron Typhoon Jets from RAF Lossiemouth.
“RAF IX Squadron has a significant link with this history in as much as it is one of only a few units which flew on early missions over Germany in World War II that is still operational today,” Mr Waterfall said. “The project would like to thank the squadron commander for his support in this venture, along with the other participants.

Filming

This is what their school wrote

“We are very proud of Lexi and Amelia who represented Bishop Eden’s at the Loch Ness Wellington Memorial Dedication at Inverness Cathedral this afternoon. Very well done girls.”

In memory of Sgt J S Fensome, 20, did not hear the second order. He bailed out and was killed. He is buried at the Holy Trinity Churchyard, in Biscot, Bedfordshire.

A wreath was laid by the RNLI Loch Ness at the Cathedral.

Info : www.inyourarea.co.uk › news

Filming

Posted in Aircraft incidents, Articles, Family, Friends, Mountaineering, Well being | 2 Comments

A bit more on Dogs on the hills.

Just remember that when taking your dog out in winter is not the same as a walk in the local fields. Some great tips here in the article above. I was out yesterday with Islay my friends wee Collie she loved the beach and the forest at Findhorn on the coast . She is a great hill dog well used to the mountains being brought up on the hills. She is very well behaved and a joy to be with.

Islay on the hill.

We had some soup at the Captains Table in Findhorn they had a Dog Menu. Things have changed since I had a dog.

Look after your dog and like you a dog has to be trained to go out in the hills get used to the weather and travel safely especially in winter.

Posted in mountain safety, Mountaineering, People, Views Mountaineering, Weather, Well being | Leave a comment

Message from Highland & Island Police Division. A few thoughts on winter mountaineering.

It’s great to see so many on the hills since Covid but please be aware with the short daylight and winter the days of rushing round the Munro’s and other hills are restricted by daylight weather and your hill competence. I have been out fairly often and it’s amazing how many are enjoying the mountains and wild places. I am no kill joy but please be aware this is a tricky time on the hill. There is so much advice about but navigation is a key skill despite technology advances. Make sure you plan your route tell someone where your going and ensure your torch bid working. Guide book time’s at this time of year can be taken with a pinch of salt. Start early and remember how a wind and snow can change your day. Paths are covered in snow often and it’s not hillwalking in winter. To me it’s winter mountaineering the use of an ice axe and crampons and training in their use is so important .

I am not trying to put folk off but a lifetime of bringing so many of the hill all over Scotland gives me a huge respect for our mountains. This is so important to be careful and I have climbed all over the World they are as hard as anywhere in wild weather.

Be aware of the the folk in some of the media who treat the mountains like a gym. They are certainly not these are wild places where nature rules. Conditions change constantly and despite modern weather forecast they are just that a “forecast” It is the same with the avalanche forecast, read them and pick your route accordingly!

Mountain Rescuers are there to help us as is SARDA dogs and the other agencies. We can all have accidents but we can all do our bit to keep safe. Remember Mountain Rescue are all unpaid volunteers who at time’s risk there lives for us. We can all do our bit get some training and go on the hills and enjoy them safely tell folk your planned route and remember “ the mountains will always be there the secret is to be there with them.

Have fun stay safe.

Message from Highland & Islands Police Division:

‘PLAN YOUR WALK, WALK YOUR PLAN’

Hillwalkers and climbers are being urged to plan their walks and prepare for all eventualities as Scottish mountain rescue teams based in the #North have recorded their busiest period on record.

In 2020, Police Scotland has recorded a 20% increase in call-outs across the #Highlands, #NorthEast and #Tayside regions in comparison to any other year.

Sergeant Peter Lorrain-Smith, Police Scotland’s mountain rescue co-ordinator, said: “The North of Scotland is lucky to have some of the most beautiful hills and mountains in the country, and over the past few months we have experienced a significant increase in the number of people heading outdoors to enjoy themselves.

“By all means I do not want to put anyone off appreciating our great outdoors, however I must highlight just how crucial it is that you are prepared. Unfortunately we continue to come across examples of people not being prepared for the walks or climbs they have embarked on, including people without maps, torches or basic survival gear, nor the skills and knowledge to use them.

“I appreciate that getting outdoors is great for people’s well-being at this challenging time, however the well-being of our teams is also a priority for me and I can see the impact this increase in demand on our services is having, combined with the wider Covid-19 restrictions we all face.

“If you do find yourself in need of assistance because of being lost or injured then phone 999, ask for Police then Mountain Rescue. You will be helped however because of the current restrictions in place, it may take longer than normal for us to get to you.”

Scottish Mountain Rescue will be launching its #ThinkWINTER campaign in early December which Police Scotland will be supporting – please search for the hashtag #ThinkWINTER on social media and follow its channels.

To read Sgt Lorrain-Smith’s full message and read the full #ThinkWINTER check-list visit 👉

https://bit.ly/3pHj4E6

Posted in Articles, Gear, Mountain rescue, mountain safety, Mountaineering, Munros, Other hills Grahams & Donalds, People, Views Mountaineering, Weather, Well being | 3 Comments

A bit more on Specs on the hills plus a few comments.

The nightmare of specs on the hills in bad weather.

Yesterday I wrote about my experience of over 55 years of wearing glasses on the hills. I also developed Cataracts and due to a problem in my area with getting the operation I had to go private. The change was incredible and I only need glasses now and again now mainly for the computer and reading. This was life changing to me and has made a huge difference to my life. Otherwise I would not be driving or going on the hill in poor weather especially these short daylight hours.

Over the years I have spoken to many who struggle with their eyesight and I wonder how many accidents have been caused in the past due to poor eyesight causing navigation errors and trios and falls. My blog definitely brought some amount of comments and these are the ones from Facebook. Thanks all for taking time to speak about this subject. There are a few tips here.

Specs on the hill Comments.

Chris Morrision MIC – My dad has recently made the move to contacts for the hill; he has one for distance and one for reading. Works well for him.

2020 Misty specs and Goggles COVID Photo Mark Proyr.

Mark Proyr – In  these Covid times we now have the delights of the glasses/helmet/goggles and face masks combination to contend with when slogging uphill with a stretcher !!! 🥵 such  fun.

–  It can be a pain in the arse. Never wore them when I was younger but my eyesight has deteriorated to the point where I am now a fully-fledged specky. Like you say in the article, you just have to put up with it in rain / snow. Just make sure you get snow goggles that fit over them, I suppose. Good tip about carrying a spare pair – I may find some old ones and put them in my bag. Cheers, Heavy!

Mark Hartree – I am the same. Never had a problem with eye sight as a youth. Could look at a map for 10secs and walk or run for an hour with map in my head. Now it takes me 2 mins staring at the map before I remember I need glasses and find them in my bag. Then they steam up (when running) or you can’t see though the rain on them.

Darren Summerson – Heavy, I joined that club last year. The world of orienteering has a few different brands and styles (half lenses and cut away upper half) Vapro, Frenson… some even claim to be fog free. I’ve read of some folk just for a short duration of an hour so racing who wear just one lense, the brain allegedly learns to know which eye to use for map reading versus viewing distance terrain. Biggest snag I’ve discovered is if you wear them whilst running reading a map, it changes the depth perception at your feet and you end up tripping on stuff. I do, it’s different world, rain hitting the outside of the glasses, steaming up on the inside!! I’m grateful or lucky I lasted this long, although when I got them last year it was like a bit of revelation, suddenly I could see the detail again. So suspect I’ve needed them for a little while.

Mick Harvey –  wear a single contact lens and you’re right Darren Summerson you do adjust quite quickly, only snag I’ve found is after about 6-8 hours of daily wear they need replacing as they split. Whether that is due to drying in the wind or the fact I do have dry eyes (apparently) causing it. Cant get on with wearing my glasses on the hill. Eggy always seem to wear his with no snags.

Andy Woolfstone –  The first thing I did after my first weekend on MRT was get some contact lenses! Glasses in Scottish weather wasn’t ideal.

Rob Johnstone – I used to wear contact lenses – I was on a night search when I was on civi MR & rubbed one of them out of my eye on top of a hill, got everyone to gather around to form a wind break & unbelievably I found it on the ground! A bit of spit & I stuck it back in.

Conrad Allen – I wear Ortho K lenses. Look it up and it may be useful fir some of you. 

Andy Bates – Anybody know whether you can get prescription lenses in a safety glasses/Oakley style frame? With all the hassle of COVID PPE and being generally blind for close up/reading stuff that would really help. Ta

Kev Hewkin –  I don’t know about Oakley styles but you can get prescription lenses fitted into safety glasses. I had to have them when I worked offshore, the company provided them but you were limited to less fashionable styles. Oakley and similar styles do allow you to fit prescription lenses, I was going to get some for cycling, but not sure if they meet safety glasses criteria.  I was fortunate not to wear glasses when I was active on the hills but now I have to wear them all the time. Nowadays when out dog walking I find that wearing a baseball cap really helps with shielding the lenses from rain.

Mick Hill – I use a pair of photo chromatic glasses with bi focal lenses for cycling Bash. They are wrap around and made by BBB and you can have bi focal lenses up to 2.5 I think. Great for reading the Garmin and at the cafe for the menu 👍

Michael Gibson – I was fortunate to be able to use contact lenses whilst longsight was a problem. Now I’m both short & long sighted it’s more of a problem!

Andy Bates, I was at on the A1 a while back & went past this show room https://www.rxsport.co.uk/ they may be able to help.

Manage

Oakley, Ray-Ban, Bolle, Rudy Project and Smith Sports Sunglasses - RxSport - RxSport

RXSPORT.CO.UK

Oakley, Ray-Ban, Bolle, Rudy Project and Smith Sports Sunglasses -…

Nick Sharpe Mountain Guide – Hi all, glasses, what a nightmare😩. First wore them when I was 11 and had em ever since. I was never able to tolerate contact lenses for more than about 30 mins. Pain in the ass when having to use a map and compass. I found I got very good at managing terrain identification through angle and aspects, being aware of what’s under your feet. As far as eye ware goes, I use Adidas and Julbo sunglasses. They both provide a clip in style prescription lens frame that goes behind the sun element. Expensive initially but you are able to just change prescriptions lenses without additional expense of getting the sun protection combined. You can also just cx the different UV lenses for whatever light level you are dealing with. At a pinch I’ve also just popped out the sun lenses and used them as normal glasses, you look a bit like Cosmo Smallpeice (Les Dawson) or Heavy😂 but it sometimes helps. Hope everybody is staying well👍👍

Thanks for the tips, insults etc just remember if you need specs ensure you carry them on the hill and if you need them al the time carry a spare pair. This is essential at this time of year with the shortage of day light and poor weather conditions.

Posted in Articles, Equipment, Friends, Gear, Health, mountain safety, People, Scottish winter climbing., Views Mountaineering, Weather, Well being | 1 Comment

Do you wear glasses on the hills or just started wearing them? A few thoughts!

This weekend I was out giving some pointers to some of my mountaineering club about night navigation. As always a few spoke about how they find it hard to cope with using glasses on the hill especially at night or in bad conditions. Taking bearings reading a map can be difficult add in darkness and poor weather it can be hard. I have never sadly had good eyesight but looking back how did I cope. At times it was a nightmare until I got my eyes sorted out a few years ago. This was highlighted after I had developed cataracts in both eyes . I notice a lot of my pals are now wearing glasses and they ask “How did I cope all these years wearing them?” This is what I wrote a few years ago on this subject.

“It makes a lot of folk more aware of the limitations that many older mountaineers are now learning to cope with walking/ climbing with glasses. Too many it’s hard to accept. At the Clachaig Inn after my Mountain Safety Chat many years ago as I was packing up a gentleman came over with his wife and asked me how I cope with Glasses on the hill. It is a question that I am getting asked more and more. One thing about getting old it happens to us all. It is so strange to watch these heroes trying to cope with glasses it is like their invincibility has been tested and found wanting! Various friends asked me for the first time in 40 years how I coped especially when winter climbing in wild weather, heavy rain, mist and blizzard conditions? No one was interested before and I struggled for my whole life with very poor vision.

My answer “when it gets that bad I would rather not see where I am” Many of us older mountaineers now wear glasses I have worn them since 4 years old! I have tested the awful National Health Specs to destruction over the years. As I young lad I broke so many pairs I was constantly in the opticians it was my second home! I wore specs even when playing football which I loved and was sure I invented a band round the legs to keep them on!

I smashed so many pairs but you just have to get on with it and they have been a huge hindrance all my life. I used string as well to keep them attached but they still got smashed regularly and also they were held up by Elastoplast and more sellotape. I tried all types but still manage to break even the un – breakable ones and have had to always carry a spare pair everywhere. I tried contact lenses but no joy my eyes just did not cope so for 60 years I have worn glasses.

On the hill I had a few pairs of prescription lenses made for my goggles over the years they were not cheap at all the last pair cost £300. I always carried a spare pair on the hill. (a top tip. ) At last I now I get some compassion into my short-sightedness after so many years.  

A few tips: There is no such thing as knowing the mountains like “the back of your hand” in a full winter storm you need everything going for you to get back safely. Navigation is essential even in these days of modern technology. With poorer eyesight with age it gets harder add in darkness and using a head torch it get tricky  .

Big specs

Make sure you carry your specs, they are no use in the car or at home. I notice that some of us are so vain and will not wear them on the hill or forget them on a day out.Tip : A bigger scale map  – It is worth blowing up the scale of the map for tricky area’s if you have the technology to do this, makes it far easier to see with poor eyesight.In heavy snow/ rain it is not easy with glasses on so you have to get used to it!

Carry a spare pair of glasses with you. If struggling ask for help get your mates to check your bearings etc. Now you may have some compassion to those who struggle with poor eyesight on the hill. I had to go private to get my cataracts done. I could not wait the delays at that time on the NHS were massive. If I were not to get both eyes done could have meant no hills for 3 years.

It came to a crisis when as darkness fell I was coming of from A crag in winter in the Cairngorms. The snow was getting heavy and drifting I did not see the ice and off I went back n my back. I was heading for a steep Coire the ground was flattish but I still could not stop. The only way I stopped was by steering into a Boulder and cracking a few ribs.I struggled of the hill and felt so daft. I was lucky I never expected ice to be hidden under the snow and just had my walking poles out. It took seconds to pick up speed I was lucky.

That was the end of my winter experiences that year. The operation on my eyes was costly but so worthwhile and to not wear glasses after 55 years on the hill is wonderful what a difference in the rain and snow. I still carry a pair of reading glasses but my vision is so much better. So please accept that you may need glasses on the hill forget the vanity and carry glasses with you if you need them to read your map or get off the hill safely.

Goggles in winter essential at tomes

Comments welcome

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Night Navigation on the Dava Moor with the Moray Mountaineering club. A few lessons re learned!

Jenny night Nav

It had started to rain but we were all ready for a few hours on the hill. We had a chat checked our gear and set off in 3 directions to navigate.

First we used the maps spoke about timings pacing and bearings. We found the usual problems some compasses hard to read in the dark. How much slower everything is once of the tracks. How to handrail features pacing and other skills.

A good clear serviceable compass is essential.

Having your compass handy and map checking each other’s bearings measuring small distances with your Romer on your compass and really looking at the detail on your map.

A break in the day

We navigated to a bothy small hidden lochs and contours and Burns. I think all learned a lot. A few may buy a new compass all the torches worked well and never let us down. We came across mice, hares, Grouse and other wildlife on our travels. We saw the stars in there glory and I think we all enjoyed even the wee river crossings that made you think. In all it was about 4 hours out in the dark.

It was not on the mountains but in a wild area that off the estate tracks is pathless. I used to do these type of Exercises with my team many years ago often high up on the Munro’s but this was an ideal training venue.

In all a fun night lots of new skills new words like “worry beads “ for counting paces, hand railing, aiming off following features like burns to a defined point and the use of the compass for short bearings. As you get older the need for reading glasses to read the map especially at night. Something many forget.

We had a break half way through sat out on the Moor and watched the stars it was magnificent. We ate some food and had a drink and headed on. Some of the ground was hard going peat hags and bog but in its own way very satisfying.

We only touched the surface but I feel it made my wee group a bit more aware of walking in the dark. The need to all work together and check each other.

Few nowadays carry a watch or altimeter a watch is essential of course there is one on your phone but a simple watch is still a great tool.

I had my GPS on my phone and explained how handy it was but not to be used as the single navigation tool tonight.

The old basics like map interpretation timings and pacing are still very relevant today.

Thanks all for a fun night. We never saw any ghosts from Lochindorb Castle or the ghost of Culloden who came this way many years ago.

Handrails are line/linear features, but rather than being just a means to locate oneself, they are a means of navigating in themselves, and are especially useful in times of poor visibility. The extra detail can be a real navigational boost and save time when re-locating.

Lots of reading on navigation out there.

So when you go out on the hills in daylight instead of rushing round the hills get your map out. Look at the features practice taking bearings and walking on them. Check your gear is serviceable your torch works ? Your compass is still readable and if you need reading glasses for your map reading take them with you. Be part of the day do not rely on one person to navigate check. Look at your day before you go prepare well and in theses short day of limited daylight have a cut off point for getting of steep ground before it’s dark.

Every year practice these skills use technology as well but being able to read and understand a map is a great asset as is to take a bearing and share the responsibility of a hill day.

Every day/ night is a learning day on the mountains. We never know it all at time’s we just scratch the surface.

Safe navigation !

Mountaineering Scotland and other organisations run

Five hours of intensive training in techniques for navigating in poor visibility and darkness. This course is designed to build on your foundation of daylight navigation skills giving you strategies to cope with navigating in bad weather and to be able to safely navigate off the hill safely in the event of being caught out by short daylight hours. 

Techniques will include timing, pacing, walking on bearings, aiming off, attack points and more.

The majority of the time on the hill we will be in complete darkness. Instructor ratios are 1:6 and there are spaces for 12 people per course.

What will you get from attending the course?

  • Improve your ability to recognise contour shapes and features.
  • Accurately follow compass bearings and measure your distance across the ground.
  • Learn new techniques to help you relocate and confirm your position.
  • What to do if you get lost.

You will need to be equipped for an evening out on the hill with food and drink, boots, gaiters, waterproof jacket and over trousers, warm hat and gloves. Maps, map cases and compasses will be provided. A good headtorch with fresh batteries as well as a spare are essential. We will not be moving quickly so bring lots of warm kit appropriate for the conditions. 

The course fee does NOT cover kit or accommodation. There are many others offering similar courses !

Last night took me back a bit but I can say it was enjoyable and all seemed to learn a lot from it. It was good to see folk again we did all the Covid awareness as requested. The journey back was full of stars Deer owls and bats in a lovely night. I think I enjoyed it especially the soak in the bath after!

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The Munros a look back to 1976

I am looking back on the early Munros days what a great way to learn about this wonderful country, the mountains their hidden secrets, friendship on the hills and of course it’s people.

My last Munro in 1976

I was on a mission to plan my weekend hills and had the Munro book and my own list with me everywhere I went. Every weekend I would mark them off with a story about the weekend it was so great and what a way to get to know Scotland. The hills were quieter then and there were few paths away from the honey pots of the popular hill. During the week was spent in pouring through maps and planning what a way to learn. There was no quick fix like apps and the books and guides were pretty vague. The hills was a bit of exploration as it should be and all the time you were learning.

My pal Tom MacDonald and I completed our Munros both on separate hills in November 1976. We were both young members of the RAF Kinloss Mountain Rescue Team and were so lucky to have done these great hills before they became so popular.  It was a great weekend I finished on An Socach 944 metres and the other two Munros for the rest of the party it was a big day in November. Tom finished on I am sure Beinn Bhreac and we were staying at Braemar with the Team. Most of the hills were done with the team and it was a constant chase to get the summits done with some great characters who taught us lots. I had no car could not drive and on the odd weekend off we hitched to the hills.  I learned to navigate and worked hard getting to hills on buses, trains and hitching. It was an all-consuming journey and what a day when Pete McGowan the RAF Kinloss Team Leader and the late Ben Humble a pioneer of Scottish Mountain Rescue presented me and Tom with a photo on our completion. This was the after myself and Tom MacDonald had completed out Munro’s 1976.  This was about a year before Ben passed away. It was a great privilege to meet Ben Humble, what a character that is his great photo behind me of the Ben and Carn Mor Dearg that used to hang in the RAF Kinloss MRT Briefing room.

Pete McGowan the RAF Kinloss Team Leader at the time what a man and gave us both a picture of our day and on the back he wrote these wonderful words. It was signed by Ben Humble a real mountain character and pioneer of Mountain Rescue.

“On behalf of all the members of RAF Kinloss Mountain Rescue Team may I congratulate you on a really fine achievement in ascending An Sochach 3097 feet in Breamar 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.

Yours Aye Pete Mc Gowan  Team Leader RAF Kinloss MRT

(Also signed “Congratulations” by Ben Humble SMC )” I was so proud that Ben Humble

 I was so proud that Ben Humble was there he was some man a hero from another era and he always spoke to me no matter who was about.

It meant so much and still does to me to this day that Pete took the time to make our day special. Pete  is incredible man and a true leader who sorted the team out and made us a true band of brothers and ready for anything that Scotland could throw at us.  We learnt so much in these few years. There were so many great days in that period it was all fresh and new, the old basic inch to the mile maps, poor weather forecasts, no mobile phones, no GPS and few paths and you rarely met people. There were also no wind farms to blight the views. We had so many friends as the keepers in the glens, great names Mr Oswald at Ben Alder, Mr Mc Rae in Skye, Mr Robertson at Loch Muick so many more, we always addressed them as Mr or Sir they were real characters. From Skye to Ballater we knew so many of them and the advice they gave us was incredible. This was well before we have such great access thanks to the work of all parties in the Scottish Parliament.

The SMC Munro book so very basic back then and there was only one about the SMC Munro’s Tables it was our bible and how I enjoyed ticking it after very adventure. Each year I was getting in over 130 hill days getting in so many new hills little else mattered? Nowadays there are so many great books on the Munro’s my favourites are listed below, each have a gem about these mountains.

The Munros SMC , The Munros Tables SMC Guide

The Munros Cameron McNeish and the Munro Almanac.

Some of the epic days are so clear even today my first attempt at the Skye ridge in one go apart from Gillean in 1973 when I nearly abseiled off the rope and Tom saved my life. Huge days of all the classic ridges, The Mamores, Fannichs, Kintail, Fisherfield, Torridon, Glencoe, Tranters Round, light and slow in running gear, the Etive hills with a Vango Tent and so many more adding to them each year and learning so much. In winter it was hard with the simple kit. Big days in the Cairngorms in mid winter on Beinn An Beinn A Bhuird  with troops traing for the artic, huge cornices and dead reckoning navigation. The Curly Boots that froze as did the breaches (whatever happened to them) Big rucksack’s were the norm and a rope was always carried along with fairly useless radios. We learnt to navigate with basic maps and limited area knowledge. Learning the hard way from mistakes in the winter traverses of the Cairngorms bothying, camping high, snow – holing and then at the end of the day maybe a call –out.  You built up stamina and how often did it happen often coming off a 12 hour day on the hill then out on a night call – out no Health & Safety then. I have hundreds of tales about wild day on the hill, great adventures, near misses that will stay with me forever.

There were a few in the Team in those early days that mocked us Munro baggers they were the so-called climbers. At times they would walk round the summit tops to wind us up. It took a few years in the end for me to understand there was more to life than Munros and I learned whenever I could to mix the climbing and the Munros. After each weekend we would be asked at briefing what Munros, hills we had climbed and had to be able to name them all, a big day like the Kintail/Fannichs/ Beinn Dearg Range would be not easy but you learned the names and the area knowledge built up. My early big Walks across Scotland in the 70’s and early 80’s were a huge influence and we were climbing the Munros by new routes, great knowledge was gained from these walks. We added more and more hills a bit of bravado then and had some incredible days. Many pushed the boat out sometimes  nearly to far!

I feel so privileged to have had such an experience in these early days, so many memories of great days and I have been lucky enough to get several Munro round completed over the years. In the end I have slowed down, I take my time and enjoy these great mountains; everyone has several memories for me. It was wonderful taking the new troops out on the big days, get them fit and learn about these hills and climbing so many of the classic days again and again. I had a great dog Teallach a big soft Alsatian who completed a round and I will never forget our two-day traverse of the Skye ridge, one never to forget. We were so lucky that the Munros were a big part of our training in the RAF Mountain Rescue Teams and all the classics big days were done again and again often in wild weather. Navigation and Stamina were the key skills and so many young novice troops learned on these great mountain days.

Looking back what a marvellous journey from that day 40 years ago who would have believed where it would take me? I have climbed all over the World been on some of the world

“I still feel young, although I cannot climb mountains quite so fast as I could years ago.” John Muir, 1910 (aged 72)”

RAF kINLOSS MUNRO BOARD.

I see so many enjoying the Munros but there are other hills that are not so busy, please take time to enjoy these places. The Munros have been run in incredible times but however you do them just think of these early days before Apps and modern navigation devices, guide books that take you step by step through the route. If you get half the fun out of them and met so many great character’s you will be lucky and have memories for life. Try to savour them climb them by a different route and take nothing but photos and leave nothing but footprints. Give something back to these great hills.

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Diary of one day on a wild walk – 1977 Day 20 November 16 – Ruigh Aiteahain bothy Carn An – Fhidhleir and An Sgarsoch – Linn Of Dee.

Diary of a wild walk West to East Of Scotland 1977

November and December are a hard time for Mountaineers, there is restricted daylight and our gear was basic. In 1977 the A9 was closed during our walk a few days previously the hills were full of unconsolidated snow. It was very hard going when we hit the bad weather in the Cairngorms “we were running on empty”

The idea of a walk across Scotland from West to East in October/ November in 1977 with hindsight was crazy, with no support pretty serious.  Jim Morning and me we had just completed a huge North to South Of Scotland Walk in 1976 and pushed the boat out in the way of hills done. We thought we were ready for a winter traverse and after speaking to a few people most said go in April in long daylight and reasonable conditions. I never for a moment thought we would plan it for November. This is usually a wild month with various problems. The daylight is very short and the weather can be very unsettled and on this trip it was wild nearly every day. This is the story of “A walk nearly a walk to die for.”

I was a member of the RAF Kinloss Mountain Rescue Team a young party leader who had just completed his Munros in 1976. The Team was myself Heavy Whalley, Jim Morning (JM) and Terry Moore (TM) this was the first expedition in to attempt a Traverse of Scotland mountains West to East in November. Jim and Terry were just posted in from Stafford and Valley in North Wales, both were incredibly fit and extremely strong mountaineers . This walk was the based on an idea by the late John Hinde, one of the founder fathers of the Big Walks. At the time we were cocky young lads invincible or so we thought and I think John had the last laugh. He said do you think you are that good try a walk in early winter that will test you, how right he was so right.

Some quotes “Few civilians had the time or the organisational support to try it [a long walk]”…  Hamish Brown.

“… It is not a competitive game, any cutting corners leads to lack of safety…”  John Hinde.

Past Walks up to our attempt in November 1977

1977 Day 20 November 16 – Ruigh Aiteahain bothy Carn An – Fhidhleir and An Sgarsoch – Linn Of Dee

These two rounded, featureless hills are given distinction by their remoteness. In the heart of the wild country between the main Cairngorms and the Atholl ranges, few Munros can match these peaks for the feeling of solitude or open space. The day could be shortened by the use of a mountain bike on the approach. In winter a wild featureless mountains.

We left Ruigh Aiteahain bothy Or Feshie Bothy in Glen Feshie into the wilds of Carn An – Fhidhleir and An Sgarsoch two lonely Munros land then hopefully Braemar. What a day when we woke up it was still snowing.  I was sure we would just pack up and head to Breamar along the heavily drifted path it was still a long way away but the decision was made. We had not done any Munros yesterday and just made the bothy in deep snow from Gaick and the boys were after Carn An – Fhidhleir and An Sgarsoch. These are very remote hills  and as one of the guidebooks of the day stated this is one of the wildest and most inaccessible parts of the Highlands.  From the bothy it was a sheltered walk past the great Scots pines and raging river, the trees were heavy with snow and as it got lighter they started shedding the snow. We were out the wind and on a great path but the wee rivers were fun to cross and we soon had wet feet again. It was very hard to leave the safety of the path and head out into the wilds I would gladly of headed home down the Glen, 3 hours would see us in Braemar but this was not to be. It was the two big Munros and they are situated in the headwaters of three great rivers, The Feshie, the Tarf and the Geldie. The clue is the headwaters and much of the ground away from the path is brutal walking especially in a winter storm and that is what we were in now. We headed off the path and into the wilds navigation was critical as this is not an easy place. I had a hard day a few years before in the winter when we hit bad weather here before and it took all my effort to get off the hill safely. The ground was hard going deep snow and wind and constant changes in breaking the snow, even Jim and Terry were tired as we hit the ridge at last away from the deep peat hags. We took it in turns in front not lasting long and following a bearing, The summit was eventually gained and the map a basic inch to the mile meant we had a big drop to An Sgarsoch we nearly walked over a cornice that was interesting but we made the summit eventually.

There was no way we would make Braemar that night but we had to get off the hill out the wind and into the Glen it was dark as we stumbled down to the Geldie burn. We had never done so many river crossings many covered in ice .My body was in bits but at last we reached the path. Jim fell in the river which was iced up and was frozen he was every worried about frostbite and he set a fast pace to Linn of Dee. The wind dropped and the stars came out it was bitterly cold and our wet clothes froze on us. Even the track was covered in drifted snow but we were down the last river was ahead with a bridge but where would we stay the night?   Would it be in the forest in -10 we were too exhausted to make Braemar! It was now very dark and the snow had restarted.

We had already walked 35 k and 1323 metres in heavy snow and wild weather. We had to get Jim into dry clothes and we had enough. I was sent to the Keepers House, the first house we hit at Linn Of Dee and asked if there was a barn or bothy we could spend the night in. His wife answered the door whilst the other two waited and I must have looked terrible state. It is sad that I have lost names of the Keeper and his wife for this I apologise (can anyone help? (as my Diary got soaked after this day and I cannot read it.) We were taken in by his lovely wife and given egg and chips lots of tea and a huge dram, what a life saviour. The keeper said there was a bothy a few miles down the road that a young keeper was in and we were welcome to use it. He was amazed when we refused a lift and struggled into the night. He went ahead and by now it was late, what incredible kindness to us that I never forgot. He left us a small bottle of whisky and we arrived and got sorted out.  The young lad was good company and stayed up and spoke to him, he was amazed at our tales and I   promised to meet him in the summer and go on the hill with him. I had a great sleep but we were away at 0700 it was still dark we had another big day ahead and the weather was not going to change. The help we had been given at Linn of Dee was exceptional and I can never repay them.

I did go back a few months later after the walk and took some presents as thanks to the Keeper and his family for all their kindness, what a lifesaver. The young keeper and I never got our day on   the hill. A few weeks later he was found near Landseer Falls near Feshie bothy dead of exposure after getting caught out in a big storm heading from Linn of Dee to Glen Feshie Lodge on Jan 11th 1978. I could not believe this when told that the hills could kill such a powerful young man.

Next day was to be another hard day only 3 more days to go thank God we were struggling! The constant terrible weather, early starts, wet clothes and big bags were taking their toll on us. We were learning about the winter every day even though I had done my Munros the year before I was in awe of these mountains.

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Remembrance Day thoughts. Hill visits to plane crashes. The Lancaster on Beinn Eighe, the Anson on Assynt and the Wellington Crash on An Lurg.

The Poppy badge worn with pride and with thoughts of friends who are no longer with us. This one is with the badge of the RAF Mountain Rescue and is very special to me.

Many will know that I visit some of the Aircraft crash sites in Scotland Mountains whenever I can and last year 2019 I had been to a few. I always visit the Beinn Eighe Crash on the Triple Buttress with a relative. I am not for memorials in the hills but these young folk who died here were fighting for our freedom and sadly they remain forgotten often until this special day.

I try to pay my respects when I can. The solitude of the mountains the twisted metal of an aircraft crash is a sobering thought. It makes one stop and think in a world that today seems to have gone mad.

Beinn Eighe crash

they over the Torridon mountains, which are above 3000 feet. All eight airmen were almost certainly killed in the impact with the mountain, they were:

Pilot – F/Lt Harry Smith Reid DFC RAF (159582), aged 29, of Aberdeen. Buried Groves Cemetery, Aberdeen. 

Co-Pilot – Sgt Ralph Clucas RAF (3044661), aged 23, of Liverpool. Buried Kinloss Abbey, Moray.

Nav – F/Lt Robert Strong RAF (203610), aged 27, of Billesley, Warwickshire. Buried Bramwood End Cemetery, Birmingham. 

Air Sig – F/Lt Peter Tennison RAF (176527), aged 26, of Goole, Yorkshire. Buried Kinloss Abbey, Moray. 

Air Sig – F/Sgt James Naismith RAF (575007), aged 28, of Glasgow. Buried Kinloss Abbey, Moray.

Air Sig – Sgt Wilfred Davie Beck RAF (3504773), aged 19, of Ealing, London. Buried Kinloss Abbey, Moray.

Air Sig – Sgt James Warren Bell RAF (1822719), aged 25, of Lockerbie, Dumphrieshire. Buried Kinloss Abbey, Moray.

F Eng – F/Sgt George Farquhar RAF (632957), aged 29, of Rathven, Banffshire. Buried Buckie Cemetery, Banff.

This is now an annual trip and Geoff a nephew of the crew makes it every year and as long as I can I will be there to.

In the past we went with Heather and her brothers. Her father Joss Gosling was on the call out with RAF Kinloss MRT as very young man. It was a always a moving day for all. Joss is sadly gone but this placed so affected him all his life.

At the Beinn Eighe crash with the new memorial Joss family visit,
The Anson crash site where the crew are buried on site !

I also visited the Anson Crash near Inchnadampth up past Ullapool with the Commonwealth War Graves Commission and Scott one of their team to check the new Memorial. The CWGC (Commonwealth War Graves Commission looks after over 30000 war graves in Scotland). I was guiding Scott to the scene, he was great company another special place to me up in Assynt.

Pilot – F/O James Henry Steyn DFC RAF (42275), aged 23, of Johannesburg, Transvaal, South Africa. 

Observer – P/O William Edward Drew RAF (45356), aged 28, of Barrow-in-Furness, Lancashire.

Observer (U/T) – Sgt Charles McPherson Mitchell RAFVR (992122), aged 31, of Ballater, Aberdeenshire.

Wireless Operator – F/Sgt Thomas Brendon Kenny RAF (551620), aged 20. of Barnsley, Yorkshire.

Wireless Operator / Air Gunner – Sgt Jack Emery RAFVR (976995), aged 20, of Trowbridge, Wiltshire.

Wireless Operator / Air Gunner – Sgt Harold Arthur Tompsett RAFVR (931417), aged 20, of Croydon, Surrey.

This was my 11 visit to the site since 2013 and I have over 3300 miles travel on the 11 trips to get the new Memorial in place. To me it was so worth every mile and every penny. Its a fair walk in over 2 hours on some rough ground but what a place to be and the locally know “aeroplane flats” are a wild place and one that always makes me feel that this is a special site

I prefer to pay my respects away from the crowds this is even more important today during Covid but always in my thoughts are to those who gave so much and the families who still mourn over 70 years later.

Many thanks to all those who helped in these projects it took some time but it in my mind was worth it.

Also thanks to all that helped me on my ventures into these places, I have met so many folk from this interest and one of the most moving was taking the 70 year son who was born 6 weeks after his father’s death in a Wellington Crash on An Lurg near Bynack Mor in the Cairngorms it was a special day. I hope to visit this site in winter this year, all being  well.

An Lurg crash site

Why do I visit, these are some of the reasons why?

Pilot – P/O Philip Lionel Bennett Paterson RAFVR (175168), aged 23, of Walkden, Lancashire. Buried Elgin New Cemetery, Morayshire (H/South Div/156).

(“Flight Engineer”)/Navigator – Sgt James Michael Downey RAFVR (1800550), aged 21, of Greenwich, London. Buried Leytonstone Cemetery.

Navigator – Sgt Harold Tudhunter RAFVR (1523611), aged 22, of Whitehaven. Buried Whithaven Cemetery, Cumbria (5/P/10).

(Bomb Aimer?)/Wireless Operator / Air Gunner – Sgt Stephen Fraser RAFVR (1569101), aged 21, of Auldearn, Nairnshire. Buried Lossiemouth Burial Ground, Morayshire (1261).

Wireless Operator / Air Gunner – P/O Denis Henderson Rankin RAFVR (175934), aged 24, of Belfast. Buried Carnmoney Cemetery East, Belfast.

Air Gunner – Sgt Robert Arthur George Bailey RAFVR (3006845), aged 19, of Bungay. Buried Bungay Cemetery, Suffolk.

There is a lot more information on these crash sites on my blog, please be aware these are sacred places and should be treated as such.

So if your on the hills remember those who gave so much ! Treat them with the respect they are due.

Lest we forget.

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The Valley of 100 hills Sgurr Dubh – Torridon.

At the weekend we headed for Torridon the forecast looked good. There would be many others out on the hills so we plan to try to be away from the crowds. There are two Corbett’s on the South Side of Glen Torridon they are ignored for their bigger Torridon giants opposite Beinn Eighe and Liathach that dominate the landscape. Sgurr Dubh and Sgorr Nan Lochan Uaine .

Today we would savour the day and enjoy the stunning weather. There was no rush. I was in great company with my friend Kallie and her Collie Islay

The valley of 100 hills what a back drop.

These hills were an easy decision as I have done Sgurr Dubh and Sgorr nan Lochan Uaine in winter and summer the views can be exceptional. These are tricky hills in poor weather. It’s complex ground with so many outcrops. This was a no rush day despite the shortage of day light we will probably just climb one of the hills and savour it.

We parked in the Corrie Dubh Car park and just got in. It was mobbed another problem evolving. The old friendly deer was there after food. It scares me that all that all that deer has to do is be startled and it’s antlers could damage you some folk are so close taking photos etc.

There were lots in the busy car park were planning their big days on the Torridon Giants Liathach and Beinn Eighe. You could here the banter “How fast can we climb these hills in ? “ I used to be one of them with age comes a more sedate life.

We saw one other party head across the road to our hills then we only saw one other solitary Walker all day on the path and a couple of mountain bikers on the way off.

On the way to the hill you pass the famous SMC Ling hut by a good path. It’s shut due to Covid and holds many memories for me. This area is famous it called the “Coire of 100 hills” due to the many glacial drumlins you pass on route. I have a photo I will find of these drumlins with the light hitting them taken . I was walking up Beinn Eighe a few years ago and the light showed the drumlins off so clearly.

Drumlins : “a low oval mound or small hill, typically one of a group, consisting of compacted boulder clay moulded by past glacial action.”

Even this area of the path can be a complex area as on the main ridge with lots of crags and can be a navigational nightmare in bad weather.

Not today the pull into the ridge is steep but worthwhile and on a good day like this the views are outstanding. You scramble along the by the stream on hopefully on dry rock gaining height and the views will open out onto the ridge. It was pretty loose here and a big drop care was taken but the views were amazing. Islay the collie picking her way up the rock and us struggling to keep up. The burn is so stunning with waterfalls and plunge pools.

The path takes a line up the left hand side of the gully.

A well behaved dog is essential on the hills Islay never chases and picks a good line. This comes from good training and being used to steep hill ground. She has a superb winter coat and is a joy to be with.

From here you have to take time as the summit ridge is still complex with so many lochs many are hidden it is fairly craggy but the route on a good day is superb. We picked a line marvelling at the scenery the weather and the sun. Kalie lives here and passes this hill often but was unaware of its wildness. We were spoiled by the weather.

It can be a maze here of Lochans and in winter deep snow. Today it was lovely mostly dry slab walking into another world. This is one of the most beautiful places with the views of the Torridon hills unsurpassed and special.

The mighty Liathach looking stunning.

Near the summit there is a lovely cliff and it has some great lines on it. In winter there short but lovely looking routes but a long walk in. The rock looks so clean and with the clarity of the day the shadows show the lines.

Islay on the rock waiting patiently

We wandered up onto the gully and then had a break below the summit the weather was still lovely and more views opened out. There was no rush today just time to sit and take it all in.

The final summit is very broken ground scree but you soon reach the top and the wee shelter which was in mist for a few minutes then it cleared.

The summit great views all the way.

We had lunch no rush and could have headed down another way on steep ground but we both agreed to stay high and enjoy the ridge again.

Islay loving her day waiting patiently for us .

The light was changing as were the views yet it’s some time if year. The grass is now a golden brown the sun out the wee chill in the air gone. The walking superb and our eyes open wide to the views.

We kept stopping taking photos looking at the plants and rocks.

We descended the same way eventually hitting the cairns after some broken ground. Care was taken Islay followed us down she was so careful with her feet. We were glad to be off the steep loose ground and back by the waterfalls and muddy path.

We were soon on the main path back passed the Hut Kalie charging on. Again we met some mountain bikers on the path. Then back to the car via Islay in the river to get cleaned.

The car park was busy folk arriving after a great day. You could hear in their voices how much they enjoyed it. We headed back into a stunning evening all feeling what a great day we had. How lucky we are in these strange times to enjoy these great hills , slowly nowadays but with our eyes more open when a hill was just a tick in a book.

Kalie and Islay taking it all in.

Thanks for the company Kalie and Islay what a day is that the last before these hills are snow covered?

Today’s tip:

Take time to take it all in “ the mountains are not a gymnasium for your ego”

Heavy and Islay looking towards Beinn Eighe
Posted in Books, Corbetts, Corbetts and other hills, Enviroment, Friends, mountain safety, Mountaineering, People, Recomended books and Guides, Views Mountaineering, Weather, Well being, Wildlife | Leave a comment

I learned about winter mountaineering from this. Lancet Edge Avalanche.

The magnificent Lancet Edge a great winter scramble, it was from roughly here that we were avalanched in 1972 . This picture was taken over 30 years later! This is the story and worth retelling .

Lancet Edge

This was the final weekend of my last weekend of my Mountain Rescue Trial at RAF Kinloss in 1972! The weekend was planned at Ben Alder a wonderful remote area just of the A9. The team went to different areas every weekend and I had my new Munro s book out, seeing what hills I may be able to climb! The team used the garage and sheds at the Ben Alder Lodge a 5 mile drive up a rough estate track near the A9 near Dalwhinnie. This was an amazing place, stags and hinds were right down to the road, there were hundreds of them. The keeper Mr Oswald was a long-time friend of the team and our leader George Bruce. We had the use of the estate tracks to those huge remote hills a great privilege and fantastic assistance to great days in the mountains. George took great time to build up relationship with every estate in Scotland as this was invaluable for future call outs and building up the team’s area knowledge to assist us on call outs in the future. All the time I was learning from the way he spoke to people he had a magic touch, which I was to see on many occasions. The team took a couple of barrels of beer out which we had in the garage when we got there and it was amazing as the team members all sang folk songs round a fire that night, I loved it.

The garage was where we cooked as well and most of the team were in tents. It was amazingly cold all night and next morning when we got up I could not believe the view; Loch Ericht was frozen solid as was all our water. One of the tasks is that the team members all take times to cook and as a trailist I had to get up and help the cook with breakfast at 0600 and make the traditional bed – tea, round all the team. The numbers out this weekend were again very high nearly 30 people, a busy time for the cook, I was trying to pick up all the skills as if you did a bad cook you were in the river, that was the tradition. Luckily I was very glad as my Mum had brought me up to be able to cook basics including breakfast, soup and basic meals like mince and tatties they gave me great life skills for the future. Thanks Mum!

The Garrons

I was to go out with George Bruce the Team leader and 2 other team members. George had planned a winter scramble or climb up a magnificent ridge called Lancet Edge near Culra bothy right in the heart of the Alder Estate. It was a wonderful drive across the moor, full of snow and a drive across the icy river Pattock by land rover. There were stags and hinds everywhere, many following the wagon thinking that they may have been getting fed. I thought to myself people would pay a fortune to be in  especially in a hard winter and this was one? The views of the mountains is incredible, snow everywhere and blue sky, these are huge mountains with the magnificent Ben Alder dwarfing its lofty neighbours with its sprawling ridges and huge corries. We stopped at the Culra bothy an open shelter used by climbers and left the wagon there. It is a very basic building with a fire, stone floor, sleeping space and freezing cold.  I had spent many a night in bothies like these in Galloway whilst training for the Duke of Edinburgh award but this was a different league.

That day our objective was Lancet Edge which was opposite Ben Alder this was a ridge on the huge 1028 Sgur Lurtharn, it looked so Alpine and impressive. A thin icy ridge running up to a snowy plateau to my inexperienced mountaineering mind I wondered how we would get up that ridge. We had with us a very experienced climber who had worked at Glenmore Lodge as a civilian Instructor who was one of George’s friends Davy Sharp. Davy I found out on the walk up across the moor was just recovering from a serious avalanche accident in the Lake District the previous winter. George was great form in walk in telling stories, talking about the area and setting an enjoyable pace, not the usual rush to the top. He was teaching and laughing all the time and in the hour on the walk in we learned many new skills. I was shown again how to use my axe and crampons on some ice on a small buttress and how to ice axe brake properly on some steep snow, we then set of kicking steps up the slope leading to ridge. As is the normal procedure we all took our place in front kicking in the snow was hard work. As we got higher, the snow became deeper and was lying in places in drifts on top of steep frozen grass.

I know now that this is not a good combination. We traversed round some steep buttress and marvelled at the views which opened out as we got higher. Just below the top of the ridge I was just behind George when I heard a crack and then we were tumbling down the hill. I remember going over a crag and then tumbling and crashing over rocks. It all went quiet when we eventually stopped and I was partially buried by snow and could hardly move my legs. George was next to me and helped me get out; I was amazed how heavy and frozen the snow was and I doubt I could have got out without help my legs were frozen in. I had swallowed lots of fine particles snow and was coughing fairly badly. (Later on I had an x – ray and I was told that I had damaged my lungs and always cough every morning since that accident in 1972.)

I could hear Dave groaning and George was helping him out as the snow had by now frozen, he was like us all very badly shaken and bruised. I was battered but the adrenaline kicked in and helped Dave up. George got on the radio and asked for assistance from other team hill parties as we feared that Dave would not be able to walk off. We gathered our equipment that was scattered all over and started back, helping with Dave’s bag. George though shaken was completely in control and explained that we had been avalanched and in his usual sense of humour said this was very rare in Scotland and a great honour to be avalanched in such experienced company! What a man he was, his humour was just what we needed and I was to learn so much from this great man, throughout my Mountain Rescue Career and throughout life. We managed to get back to Culra Bothy and then to the wagon by now Dave could hardly walk and was taken to hospital for a check-up. George reckoned that we had fallen over 600 feet some of it over a steep cliff, we were very lucky that no one was killed. I had used up one of my mountaineering lives!

When we got back to the Base Camp at Ben Alder we spoke to the keeper George who in his own measured way said “aye I thought the hill was pretty dangerous after the heavy snow and that wind” You were very lucky and offered us a dram. Later I stiffened up and bruising came out on my back and legs but next day I was back on the hill. I was the only one out of the avalanche who went out next day. As George said when you fall of you have to get back on straight away. I had a wonderful day on Ben Alder climbing it by an amazing ridge the Short Leachas a great winter scramble, what a day. The plateau to the summit was incredible with huge cornices by now the weather had changed and it was difficult navigation to the summit. I marveled at the team navigating in a full white out, over this complex plateau, with its huge cornices overhanging the cliffs. Near the summit we heard a huge crash as a cornice tumbled down into the corrie. I was really tired on the way off but they dragged me up Beinn Bheoil as well which was complex as the wind was in our faces and the slopes very steep, this was serious mountaineering. Getting back to the land rover I was exhausted but again happy and the river crossing in the wagon was serious as there was a big thaw on. When we arrived back at the Lodge Mr Oswald the keeper said that we were lucky to get the land rover over the river as it could have been there for the whole winter! George had a wee word as we packed up he said, you have passed your trail wee man, you are now a Novice team member. He said that you showed them but do not let it go to your head, it is a long way to go and you are just starting, take no hassle from anyone, stand up for yourself and learn every time you go on the hill. My mountaineering apprenticeship had started what a three weekends I had.

Avalanche Hazard

Later I was told by several in the mountaineering world that Avalanches do not happen in Scotland. After this incident I took a great interest in snow conditions and Avalanche prevention. Looking back I could see where the snow had drifted when we walked into the hill. Slabs of snow were breaking off on the way up. Nowadays you are taught how much you can learn on the way to a climb but this was 1972 when little had been known of Avalanches. Many thought they did not occur in Scotland at the time.

What adventures already? I had so much to learn, I could not wait for the next weekend.

In the years that followed I climbed Lancet Edge many times. It was often with new team members and I would tell them the story . It gave me a huge respect for winter conditions and the Avalanche information Service that we now have. I attended a course on Avalanche awareness a year later and learned so much.

What a place to be in the winter the older I get the more I appreciate my early days.

Lots of learning and that is what it is all about!

So please use the wonderful Scottish Avalanche Service it free and easy to access. Even better go on a course learn about safe travel in winter in the mountains. What would you do if you got avalanched ? When I was a Mountain Rescue Team leader I would read the avalanche reports in case we got called out to an area that the Avalanche forecast covered. They along with the weather gave me a fair idea of what conditions to expect.

Looking back over the years these are some of the points to note:

A few thoughts.

The weather had been heavy snow winds and a frost then more snow a lethal combination

The snow as not to deep but on an angle with grass in places very dangerous. We were walking very close loading the slope as we walked.

The local keeper had great knowledge of the area and previous weather yet we never asked him for his advice till after the event.

We had a plan to do the ridge even though it took us into dangerous terrain.

Posted in Books, Bothies, Mountain rescue, mountain safety, Mountaineering, Munros, Recomended books and Guides, Scottish winter climbing., Views Mountaineering, Weather, Wildlife | Leave a comment

Start of the Avalanche forecast essential reading along with the daily weather forecasts.

From the SAIS: The Scottish Avalanche Information Service

Home

“Start of Season 2020/21 – Be Alert to Early Winter Snowpack Instabilities
A standby avalanche forecast service will be provided for the Northern Cairngorms and Lochaber regions during the months of November and early December. When significant winter conditions are present, SAIS avalanche forecasters will carry out field observations and produce avalanche hazard reports for publication on the SAIS website. Daily Avalanche Information Reports for the 6 operational areas of Lochaber, Glencoe, Creag Meagaidh, Southern Cairngorms , Northern Cairngorms and Torridon regions will be issued from Friday 11th Dec 2020.”

A chance in a million ?

Worth reading up on snow conditions I recommend Chance in a Million by Bob Barton and Blyth Wright.

I wonder what’s your favourite book on Avalanches ?

Posted in Articles, Avalanche info, Equipment, Mountain rescue, mountain safety, Mountaineering, People, Scottish winter climbing., Views Mountaineering, Weather | 2 Comments

Beinn Bhan 896 metres route from Beleach Na Ba. A day snatched before the weather breaks.

It was an early start to meet my pal Kalie in Applecross before the forecast weekend storm broke. I had looked at a route and though the forecast was poor I thought we could see what the weather was like at Beleach Na Ba at 2000 feet. The drive down was past big rivers and flooded fields. One of the good things about starting so high was there would be no rivers to cross. There were plenty of deer about and the early morning light was stunning in places .

The drive into the sun at beleach Na Ba.

It was very quiet up in the car park but cold and windy. It was over-trousers and all the gear on as Kalie and her collie dog Islay arrived. We waited out a heavy shower then with gloves and hats on headed of up to the mast on Sgurr a Chaorachain. Here we could discuss our route and see what the wind is like.

It was windy and cold but after the mast we headed along the ridge her you are in another world. The classic Cioch Nose finishes here.It’s a wonderful sight the sandstone and the views into the coire. I love it here it was my solace when unwell a few years ago and 30 minutes from the road you are in heaven. The views are superb Kishorn in the sun, the light and the sandstone ever changing and the huge gullies and cliffs wet and dank from the rain your eyes cannot take it all in.

Cioch nose

From here after I bored Kalie about previous climbs I said the plan was to walk over from here to Beinn Bhan. Kalie had done the hill before but not this way. It’s pretty pathless and I had done it years ago and remembered how hard it was. Yet the views as we followed the Corrie Rim were superb the ground was hard work, time consuming but we had plenty of time. The weather had the odd shower it was cold but we were well prepared we picked a route through the sandstone boulders. This is great ground to navigate on at night and I had been this way with the newer RAF Team members in the past. You get some great sandstone but also Boulder fields that you have to be careful in. Yet what wildness.

The wildness of this place.

We then headed along to the connecting ridge that would take us to Beinn Bhan it does not look far but it is to me the never ending ridge. I dare not tell Kalie that is longer than it looks but her and Islay were loving the views and the changing in light.

Lost my sunglasses here,

We had a break ate and needed it I carry a flask now with hot chocolate that went down well and some cheese and jam butties. I also had a wee bottle of iron brew as we sat and enjoyed the views, Then began the toil up the ridge of many false tops.

On the ridge sun is out and Kalie loving the views.

The sandstone and the Boulder fields have a path of sorts now the rock is stunning so many shapes and colours. As always the views that few see and we took our time enjoying the sun and Islay always in front picking a line up the hill.

Incredible rock folds on the way up like a frozen ice cream or sandstone wave.

We had to be careful I was coughing a lot as the cold air hit me and am still awaiting a scan. I needed more water as my mouth was dry and throat sore. Kalie was going well Islay waiting and yet it was another top and another. Maybe it was just me but I had been this way before and knew what was coming.

The ridge hard work.

Kalie charged ahead and we were now at the summit trig point. It’s a high Corbett just under a Munro in height. The maim ridge is now easy ground but the views from the ridge into the wild Corrie is breathtaking. I had a few thoughts of some great ice climbs here. The great Mad Hatters Gully was a great day fighting our way off the cliff in the dark. Other days taking your gear for a walk in poor conditions. Every day on this mountain is wonderful.

Kalie on the summit.

It was then a bit more super food some tablet and then start the journey back. Time was moving on its dark by 1730 but we had some great views from the summit of the Torridon Giants.

The big cliffs and memories.

We wander back over some awful ground I lost the path but we were soon heading back to the Beleach where I got some water. I was still coughing but we were going fine.

On summit only half way there.
Before the light went.

It was a better route back but still hard going all the time you see the mast and think your further on. The sandstone is amazing we saw a few Ptarmigan already white. It was hat and gloves back on and torch out.

Torch on.

Kalie kept me right as we traversed back to the car park just getting off before dark. It was then sort out kit and get some fish and Chips in Applecross. The road to Applecross from the Beleach is awful we saw some deer and I hit some potholes. I was pretty tired when we got back and had an early night with the fire.

Fish and chips

The weather has been awful all night it’s raining and windy it will be an away day today, We needed all the gear at times you could feel the change in the weather. The hills are very wet and you have to be aware of the rock being slippy. A head torch is essential as is a winter hill bag. We knew we would be late coming off but we had plenty of breaks to see the mountains in their beauty and enjoy good company. What more do you need apart from a new body.

These holes in the sandstone have a name they are made by nature.

It had been an early start but so worth it. Thanks to Kalie and Islay for a great day.

Posted in Corbetts and other hills, Enviroment, Equipment, Friends, Gear, Mountain rescue, mountain safety, Mountaineering, People, Scottish winter climbing., Weather, Well being, Wildlife | 2 Comments

Taking your Dog on the hill! Please read this.

These last couple of years have seen a distressing number of dogs lost in the hills. Mountaineering Scotland now has a new page in our section on taking dogs to the hills, with information on how not to lose your dog and what to do if it does happen.


The content is written by highly experienced hillwalker and dog owner Anne Butler, in consultation with Scottish Mountain Rescue, and is well worth a read if you want to take your pet with you on your adventures.

https://www.mountaineering.scot/activities/hillwalking/taking-the-dog/lost-dogs

Scottish Mountain Rescue Association of Mountaineering Instructors Mountain Training Ruffwear UK Hurtta Glenmore Lodge VisitScotland Tiso Cotswold Outdoor Craigdon Mountain Sports

Unless your dog has consistent recall, it should be kept on a lead. Even a trustworthy dog should be kept on a lead around livestock, deer and ground nesting birds. For the dog’s safety a lead is advisable when traversing narrow ridges, near steep drops or cornices.

Dogs should always be kept on a lead during the lambing season.

It is advisable to attach the lead to a harness rather than risk damage to the delicate structures in the dog’s neck where the collar sits. Dog trainers and veterinary physiotherapists recommend a Y-shaped harness which runs down the breastbone and does not put pressure on the soft tissues of the shoulder joint or restrict movement of the shoulder or forelimbs.

Many pet shops provide a fitting service to ensure the harness is suitable for the dog and the activities you wish to undertake. 

Ruffwear and Hurtta harness are designed for active dogs and even have handles to help lift the dog if necessary.

Ensure collars and harnesses are snug-fitting (two fingers tightness) as loose collars/harnesses can get snagged and the dog may become trapped. 

A bungee lead is ideal. These can be attached around the owner’s waist and the strong bungee absorbs sharp pulls and shocks and also allows the owners to keep their hands free for using poles or to navigate.

Teaching your dog to return to you following a blast on the whistle is an effective recall tool to use on the hill, it is ideal for when the dog is distracted or if a rapid recall is needed. 

A whistle has several advantages over vocal recall:

Dogs hear at a higher frequency than humans and are more likely to respond to a whistle than the human voice.

The whistle can also be heard at a much greater distance than the voice, especially in windy conditions or if the dog has roamed any distance away from the owner. 

If you are calling the dog and it hasn’t come back you will become stressed and angry – and why would a dog come back to someone who is angry? A whistle will remove any stress or emotion from the recall command.

Recall training to the whistle is easily taught at home, a variety of training programmes are available online or booking a 1:1 lesson with a local dog trainer can be particularly helpful.

Acme Gundog whistles are lightweight and can be worn round your neck or attached to the rucksack.

Although they are not infallible, GPS trackers are one of the most reliable ways to locate a dog on the hill.

GPS trackers need a mobile phone signal to connect to the device which is attached to the dog’s collar or harness. However, the tracker unit will still work without a phone reception as it uses a GPS signal to track the dog and there is no maximum range so can locate the dog even if it has roamed a long way from the owner. Some models have a history function so will show where the dog has been plus an active tracking setting to indicate the dog’s current location and some have a light and sound function which can be activated from the phone app.

There is a good range of GPS trackers available and potential buyers should research which model would best suit their needs. Some brands require an ongoing subscription in addition to the purchase price.

https://tractive.com/en/pd/gps-tracker-dog

https://getfindster.com/b/

In poor visibility anything that will make the owner aware of the dog’s location is helpful. Attaching bells to the dog’s harness or collar will provide an audible clue that the dog is not as close by as it should be and should be recalled back to the owner’s side.

https://www.barkandridesports.com/product/lock-load-slay-bells/

LED lights are ideal for locating the dog in poor visibility or after dark.

A great variety of lights to clip onto the collar or harness or full LED collars are available.

Microchips

Since April 2016 it has been UK law that all dogs are microchipped. 

A microchip contains identifying information for the dog and contact details for the owners. If a lost dog is taken to a vet or Police station, they will scan it for microchip details. Ensure your dog’s microchip details are kept up to date at all times.

It is helpful to add another contact number such as a your home or holiday address to the microchip database in case the owner is out of signal on the hill and the dog has been found

Collar and ID tag 

An ID tag should be attached to the dog’s harness or collar with the owner’s mobile phone number. It is possible to add a second or third number to the ID tag for a relative or friend.

A lost dog will often attach itself to other walkers on the hill, and a simple collar and tag with phone numbers attached will allow contact with the owners. 

Collars with mobile phone numbers embroidered into them are also available.

Mountain Rescue Teams are authorised by the Police to search for or rescue people injured or at risk in the mountains. But they are not routinely deployed by the Police to assist in the search for lost dogs as this would mean that teams would not be available if people need rescuing elsewhere.

However If you find a dog who is trapped or injured, call 999 and ask for Mountain Rescue. Do not place yourself or others in danger trying to rescue a trapped dog yourself. If the dog is injured the Mountain Rescue Team Leader will decide whether they are able to launch a call-out based on the information they have received from the owner.

If organising an informal search party, it is vitally important to consider the terrain, location and weather – and the experience and equipment of the people involved in the search. Many willing volunteers are not regular hillwalkers and may be putting themselves and rescuers in danger if they get into difficulty during the search.

Stay calm and try not to panic. Search methodically and call your dog’s name and blow your whistle. Allow quiet spells and listen carefully as the dog may be trapped and making noises or barking.

Contact a friend or relative and ask them to contact local vets, Police, council dog wardens and shelters and place notices on hillwalking Facebook pages with a photo of your dog, contact numbers and the location the dog went missing.

If the dog is missing near farmland it is worth trying to contact local farmers or gamekeepers who are often willing to help search and have a detailed local knowledge of the area.

Drone SAR for Lost Dogs UK is an organisation of drone pilots who will assist with searches for dogs in remote or mountainous areas. It is advisable to contact them ASAP.

Dog Lost is an organisation which offers support and advice for owners of missing dogs.

Thanks to Anne Butler Mountaineering Scotland and others for this article

Mountain Rescue Teams are authorised by the Police to search for or rescue people injured or at risk in the mountains. But they are not routinely deployed by the Police to assist in the search for lost dogs as this would mean that teams would not be available if people need rescuing elsewhere.

However If you find a dog who is trapped or injured, call 999 and ask for Mountain Rescue. Do not place yourself or others in danger trying to rescue a trapped dog yourself. If the dog is injured the Mountain Rescue Team Leader will decide whether they are able to launch a call-out based on the information they have received from the owner.

If organising an informal search party, it is vitally important to consider the terrain, location and weather – and the experience and equipment of the people involved in the search. Many willing volunteers are not regular hillwalkers and may be putting themselves and rescuers in danger if they get into difficulty during the search.

Stay calm and try not to panic. Search methodically and call your dog’s name and blow your whistle. Allow quiet spells and listen carefully as the dog may be trapped and making noises or barking.

Contact a friend or relative and ask them to contact local vets, Police, council dog wardens and shelters and place notices on hillwalking Facebook pages with a photo of your dog, contact numbers and the location the dog went missing.

If the dog is missing near farmland it is worth trying to contact local farmers or gamekeepers who are often willing to help search and have a detailed local knowledge of the area.

Drone SAR for Lost Dogs UK is an organisation of drone pilots who will assist with searches for dogs in remote or mountainous areas. It is advisable to contact them ASAP.

Posted in Charity, Mountain rescue, mountain safety, Mountaineering, Views Mountaineering | 4 Comments

How much does a photo bring back memories? The remote Coire a’ Granda Beinn Dearg. The healing power of the wild places to help your well being.

2013 Clearing the mind walking across the frozen Loch Coire a ‘ Ghranda

The photo above was taken after my second operation when I was pretty ill a few years ago 2017. As I recovered slowly by walking round my stunning Moray coast they were just not enough for me. I needed to see the hills and be in them. Though it was winter I just needed to be there and close to the mountains. It was still winter yet would I be up for a day on the hills?

Many years ago I had climbed after a snow hole in the remote Coire a ‘ Ghranda below Beinn Dearg. It’s a wild area and the approach was from the Aultguish which can be tricky due to a big river crossing and boggy ground. This is wild country you rarely meet anyone on this side of the mountain.

This was a place I wanted to revisit and had asked a mate to come (Pete Amphlett). I wanted to show him the great lines that form the ice falls in winter he agreed to accompany me.

It had been cold for a few days so the ground would be frozen if we were lucky. We parked at the far end of the loch at the Ullapool end. I had told Pete it would be a slow day he was okay with that. Even better he took the car and did the driving.

Pete picked a great line in he had been in this side a few times . It was still a long way in.

The late Andy Nisbet the famous Scottish climbing author said that it takes 2 and half hours to walk in, we took a bit longer and passed a couple of swans on the lower Loch a’ Gharbrain, that was the only wildlife we saw that day.

The route is famous for bog but today it was dry and frozen hard but still hard work. The views were great and even behind us we could see the Fannichs covered in snow with snow cornices clearly visible by Pete’s binoculars.

We could see Cona Mheal is a lovely Munro with its scrambly East Ridge takes in the views a lovely mountain. The snow was heavy going higher up and the hidden Loch nan Glean frozen solid, then the great cliffs of Coire a’ Ghranda came into view as Andy Nisbet states “the Corrie has a wonderful wild atmosphere” in the new Northern Highland Central Guide.

So many lines – such a great corrie it was a wonderful sight.

I had been to this wonderful area many times often with the RAF Mountain Rescue we trained a lot in these great hills and had many call-outs in this wild area. I also chased Munro’s, climbs and our at times our egos hardly taking any of it in.

When your young you hardly ever stopped to enjoy this wild place and now I can sit and take it all in. Nowadays it is different we had lunch and sat and looked at its grandeur it is so like Skye and it’s great Corries .

The Loch was frozen solid and apart from a fox’s footprints there was little life. Many come to Beinn Dearg and grab the Munro’s or the famous ice climbs of Emerald Gully or Penguin Gully and never see this place.

There is only one rock climb on the broken slabs by the famous Bell in 1946 but many incredible winter climbs. The famous climb “Ice bomb” is on the big cliff and was done by Mike Fowler the tax man from London who has climbed so many of Scotland’s great climbs. The late Andy Nisbet has done so many of the climbs it is incredible. Poor Pete he had climbed Emerald Gully the day before in 1994 and walked all the way in to this Corrie with a well known English visitor who was that tired when he reached the crag they walked out! The joys of winter climbing.

Pete enjoying the view.

We spent some time and then wandered back in the sun get sunburnt – note must pack sun screen and glad I had lots of water. We passed the ruined croft at the loch how hard must have life been in those days? We were soon back at the car and it was great to be driven home ensuring I rehydrated with pure hill water.

The body was a bit stiff as Pete dropped me off we had some day.

The healing power of the mountains

The effect on me was great I had a great sleep felt so much better but tired than only a day in the mountains can bring. My mind was full of the joy of the hills especially in winter.

I wrote this the next day:

The Coire of the Four Lochs

Familiar view, dry frozen moorland.

Swans on the Loch, little wildlife about.

Stop, the view the Fannichs – snow plastered.

Grind up the hill, to the frozen loch.

Peaceful, hard going in the snow.

Huge Cornices, ice ribbons, gullies

The big corrie – wild remote exciting.

Walk across the frozen loch

Take it all in – Wildness as it was.

Only nature is working here.

Time out – enjoy.

The journey back – hard going

Ruined crofts – what have they seen?

The Dam – landscaped, changed by man?

All gone now?

Soon the road.

Then the Wind-farm site

Are we losing it?

The wild?

2013 April – Heavy Whalley – Coire a Ghranda

Little was I to know that I would need 2 more operations to get sorted. I am sure I would never have coped without days like these to see me through. The mountains and wild places have great healing power.

Posted in Articles, Enviroment, Equipment, Mountain rescue, mountain safety, Mountaineering, People, Views Mountaineering, Weather, Well being, Wildlife | Leave a comment

Every photo tells a story. Friendships forged in the mountains.

The late Al MAcLeod on the Eiger North Face photo Ted Atkins’s

Al died whilst soling on the the North Face of the Matterhorn a few years later. It was one of the hardest periods of my life getting him home. I have lost a good few pals in the mountains it’s never easy and even today the mountains still take a toll.

Big Al in Yellow and Terry Moore Everest West Ridge Expedition.

I was scanning some slides yesterday and came across this classic. It’s of my great pal Al MacLeod on the Eiger North Face taken by Ted Atkins who is a another friend no longer with us. Al is wearing his yellow Lion Rampant hat he always wore and was going to get me one. He popped in to see me when he left for the Alps. He was such a lovely crazy wild man who became a great pal.

He was the one who helped me after Lockerbie coming over at Christmas to look after me. A big hard man with a heart of gold.

There is something about friendships that are forged in the mountains. Many call it the “fellowship of the rope“ yet how many lasting friendships do we forge during these crazy days on climbs and Rescues?

Over the years we may disagree or even fall out yet most relationships are rekindled. When your under extreme pressure your pals see you “warts and all” They see you exhausted and struggling yet you get through it if you have good pals for life.

I have been so lucky to have met so many characters throughout my life and as you grow older you look back and appreciate friendship more.

The Everest Team 2001.

On Everest in 2001 we had two team members summit Dan Carrol and Rusty Bale. We had others at the high camp all going as well as you can at 8000 metres. One of the troops got ill at the high camp. Everything stopped-as did personal ambitions and they helped him down to the North Col at 23000 feet . Here our Doctor got him going again by fluid intravenous drip and he got off the hill safely. There was no disagreement just get out pal off the hill that was what mattered. This showed me how we looked after each other no matter what our personal aims. A few expeditions on the mountain were only interested in the summit at any cost and sadly several died that year. The high mountains take no prisoners but working together you can cut the odds. We all knew each other from many years of Mountaineering we had a bond that went beyond summit ambitions. All coming back safe and well was the ultimate success.

Look after your pals and family especially in these strange times.

Posted in Articles, Expeditions - Alaska - Himalayas etc, Family, Friends, Mountain rescue, mountain safety, Mountaineering, Rock Climbing, SAR, Scottish winter climbing., Views Mountaineering, Well being | 3 Comments

Falling leader – the leader must not fall?

Falling leader.

In the old days there was a saying “ the leader must not fall” These were the days before good protection in winter and summer climbing . In these very early days gear was poor and climbers were very bold. Nowadays the gear is so good that climbers can climb so hard and if the protection is good many can take falls and the gear will hold. That is the way standards have improved dramatically

Even when I started climbing we were taught that you must not fall. Belaying was basic there were no belay devices and you practiced falling leader. On our annual summer rock-climbing course we would use a tyre and it was thrown of the crag simulating a climber taking a lead fall.

Looking back it was horrific and as a young 8 stone wimp I was terrified watching the tyre flash past. You held the rope in these days by friction round your body. Often jackets and gloves were ruined by the friction burns. Some failed to hold or stop the tyre and the as the weight hit the body there were more than a few injuries. A few knees were injured and others it put them off of climbing for life. It did make you aware of what may occur and the shock load on a belay.

Thankfully things have moved on! We have belay devices and great gear that will take a fall if placed properly and your belay is strong.

In winter I remember in my early days a gentle “shove” on a snow slope to ensure you knew how to ice axe break. Also we practised ice axe breaking in crampons at one time. That was scary and again injuries were common and it could put you off winter climbing. Thankfully these training methods are long gone. Yet we did learn from them?

Climbing is a lot safer today there are far fewer accidents nowadays. Yet even on the late 70’s and early 80’s we would come across accidents in the big cliffs when we were climbing . Some were serious and we in these days knew most of the climbers. We had to use the gear we had to get a climber to a safer spot and there was a lot of adaptation on a Rescue then.

Looking back we did some big climbing accidents on the North west, Skye, Glencoe, Ben Nevis, Glen Clova, Cairngorms and a few on the smaller cliffs Polldubh Dunkeld and our local sea cliffs. My time in Wales was the same in Ogwen on the Idwal Slabs, Tryfan and Y Lliwedd and Snowdon. We were climbing a lot and seemed to be there or there about’s when accidents happened.

I watch the teams now so organised with all the new gear. Yet how many folk does it take to get all that gear to a big remote cliff when there is limited helicopter support in poor weather? Often we improvised moving casualties especially in winter to safer ground just using out climbing ropes and gear.

Thankfully things have changed I rarely climb nowadays but things seem so much safer. Yet a lot of the old tips are still valid.

Today’s tips – never pass a good runner even on easy ground.

Check your holds tap test.

Abseiling – check belay check each other especially in the dark it’s easy to make a mistake. No matter how much of a rock/ice god you are?

Fingers Ridge Cairngorm

Comments welcome as always !

Pete Kirkpatrick / I recall a poor lad having a spiral leg fracture on falling tyre/leader on the 1966 MR Summer. Those huge leather gauntlets we wore weren’t designed for brain surgery for a reason. I have a memory of ‘Escaping from the System’ JSRCI assessment using body belays and my filed efforts to hold a Navy 15 stone guy who was hanging on the rope. I failed.

Andy Woolstone – I also don’t agree that people claim they need to fall off to progress. I never actually went out to fall off a route, but I got myself into a position where I trusted my gear and ability to be able to progress. That allowed me to climb close to my limit and sometimes i pulled it off and climbed great routes, other times I took big falls but learned a lot.

Posted in Friends, Gear, Mountain rescue, mountain safety, Mountaineering, Rock Climbing, Scottish winter climbing., Views Mountaineering | 6 Comments

Coire Lair a wander and some thoughts on the wonderful Stalking paths.

We had an Autumnal walk up to Coire Lair through mist covered mountains yesterday. It had been very heavy rain for a few days and the Coire has a interesting river crossing and some of the best stalking paths in Scotland. We left the cars below the wee car park near the station it’s always interesting crossing the railway line. The walk is well pathed and the trees were looking superb.

I still have medical issues just now so it would not be a big day but it was great to get out. It helps so much clear the mind . I love how the stalking path goes through the forest near the river which was in spate with views of the Corbett Fuar Tholl a favourite of mine. The path then climbs effortlessly across the great boiler plated slabs to the views of Coire Lair. They knew what they were doing when they built these wonderful paths all those years ago. I love this area it’s just full of memories.

Only a few of years ago I was looking for my sister nephews who died on Beinn Liath Mor. I searched for several days on my own looking for the missing brother. It was during the “Beast from the East” this path meant I was down safe after several hard days looking for him alone. I will ever forget the efforts of Torridon MRT, SARDA and the other teams who searched for 6 weeks until they located the second casualty.

This is a part of mountain rescue that few realise the effort to find a casualty after 6 long weeks of waiting for the family. Thank you all. .

On the way through the woods.

We had spoke about the level of the water and crossing of the river. In the end it was okay but you have to take care in rivers after heavy rain. Walking Poles are very helpful to keep your balance when crossing.

River crossing Women and children first.

The path bifurcates and here and you cross the river it was a bit deep but no problem. With a bit more rain it would be tricky.

The mist and mizzle was constant as we climbed up its a familiar path to me.

We passed the great cliffs of Fuar Tholl. Sadly they were hidden today. The stags were roaring we never saw them and then we stopped for lunch not far below the beleach. The view of the Lochan the heather and the water pouring down the slabs made even in the rain a special place.

Kalie and Islay happy to be out in the wilds.

There were few folk about a couple had decided not to cross the river and the solitude and wildness was special. Occasionally the dark cliffs cleared soaking wet but we could see this neglected area of the Munro Sgurr Ruadh. Then the mist came down again the rain got heavy and we decide to wander down. I am still struggling on the hill yet it was great to be out. My companion was happy with the decision and that is the way it is just now. Yet I loved being out again we had my “hill fix “

We headed down back across the river. It was still deep in places but a good laugh hence the photos. Kalie went first and Islay followed.

On the way back we met two groups of mountain bikers on the track. It’s now a classic mountain bike route. We let them past they were having fun and courteous and then had a discussion about the erosion on these great stalking paths. How long will the paths last as they increase in popularity. Never easy questions to ask ? I agree the mountains are there for all but the paths will not take a lot of traffic. Especially with the increase in new Mountain E bikes? Are Mountaineering Scotland and the Bike organisation working on this. These stalking paths and coffin paths are a huge part of our heritage.

Is there a joined up approach to looking after these wonderful assets?

I enjoy mountain biking but can foresee a problem looming sadly as I enjoy my bike as well.

Comments welcome.

Will these great paths take the increase in use ?

We headed down back to the cars and a quick change then home.

I was not disappointed I loved my wander in these great hills. The company of a kindred spirit and the beauty of this wonderful area. I am so lucky. Winters not far away and of course the clocks go back this weekend. I wonder how many that will catch out?

Check that torch and batteries !

Comments – John Armstrong “when stalker built these paths- he never thought of bikes on them. I enjoy my bike too but I try to stick to landrover tracks etc rather the old pony paths as I can see they won’t last and the estates really don’t use them now with ATV doing all the work.”

Posted in Articles, Corbetts, Corbetts and other hills, Cycling, Friends, Gear, Mountain Biking, Mountain rescue, mountain safety, Mountaineering, People, Plants, Views Mountaineering, Weather, Well being, Wildlife | 2 Comments

Great gear – the Bothy bag !

Group Shelters – We we’re lucky in the RAF that we had access to various trades within the Mountain Rescue Team. Our group shelters were made originally by our Safety Equipment Section of bright orange nylon. We went through a period of using big group shelters on Call outs in the early 70’s. They held about 8 team members and were mainly used for breaks on wild winter call outs. Once inside a shelter you were out the elements. You could re appraise the situation and check out how the team members were coping with the conditions. The public forget that Mountain rescue teams are only human and anyone can struggle in wild conditions. Just to be out of the elements the constant wind battering you is such a bonus. They were also wonderful for sorting out the casualty doing first aid etc and working out any changes in the search .

For some reason they went out of fashion and have only in the last 10 years have we started using them again. Things have improved rapidly we call them Bothy bags and are made in various sizes and are a wonderful piece of kit. If you have a problem on the hill they can be a lifesaver.

Bothy bag

Used by mountain leaders, rescue organisations, backcountry skiers and canoe guides all over the world, these indispensable lightweight emergency shelters allow the users to create a ‘microclimate’ that is warm and dry – perfect for map reading, group discussions or even as a morale-booster for wet lunch breaks. Bothy bags come in a range of sizes and feature clear windows, mesh vents and roof ‘sockets’ which can house walking poles for additional support. 
In 2014 they were modified with a new low temperature PU window allowing it to function in even lower temperatures.

Features:

  • Packed Size: 27 x 11cm
  • Dimensions in use: W = 117cm, H = 100cm, L = 132cm
  • Weight: 600g
  • Person: 4
  • Warm and Windproof Shelter
  • Durable Waterproof Seats
  • Roof Attachment Fits a Walking Pole Providing Support

A good thing to try is hang about on a summit for 30 minutes without a shelter it’s amazing how cold you get! Imagine if you are injured as well and waiting for a Rescue team in bad weather?

It may save your life well worth carrying in your group?

On a call out in Cairngorms

Pete Greening comment

Got caught in an overnight snowstorm, 200-300m short of the top of the Walker Spur (and at an altitude of around 4000m). Rather than do the usual thing and retreat down the route (would have been an epic), Nev Taylor and I decided to sit it out on a small ledge, inside a bothy bag.

Pete Greening Walker Spur Photo Pete Greening

We survived and managed to swim(!) our way to the top the next day. A highly rated piece of kit.

Nev Walker Spur bivy photo Pete Greening

I have got mine which will always be in my rucksack and it’s only the size of my hand so very lightweight – Dianne McLeish

Photo Dianne McLeish

Comment – A Swaddel

Not quite a bothy bag, but I always keep one of these at the bottom of my running packs. It forms part of my emergency kit for ultramarathons.

Photo A Swadel

Mike Parsons

The very first bothy bag was called the KISU, Karrimor Instructor Survival Unit, KISU. and made by Karrimor, my company at the time. Here is a link to the full story of all types of bothy bags. https://www.outdoorgearcoach.co.uk/group-shelter/

Some great information from Mike and how the Zardsky sac was developed after the Cairngorm Tragedy in Nov 1971 when 6 died on the plateau.

Posted in Articles, Enviroment, Equipment, mountain safety, Mountaineering, People, Views Mountaineering, Weather, Well being | Leave a comment

Whats your best piece of kit from the past?

Things have moved on since my early days on the hills. The clothing and footwear has improved beyond belief. Gone are the “hairy breeks” that many wore. How proud was I that I got a pair then at last I thought I was a climber. Long johns and even Pyjamas were worn under them! The layering system of string vests and “simmits” our cotton aircrew shirts and green pullovers were very basic. Later on came the Norwegian jumpers a famous bit of kit. The tartan shirts a must wear before all the gear changed.

The famous Curlies.

Socks are so much improved they fit now as are the variation in boots. We were issued with sea boot socks usually in only one size: large they were blister machines. My original first bought Hawkins boots were comfy but heavy when wet. The RAF Mountain Rescue teams had an issue boot “the curly”a great lightweight boot in the summer but in my opinion poor in the winter. Later on due to government cuts I am sure they were made of compressed cardboard. Often we were on call outs after a day on the hill when the boots were soaked through. One way to combat the cold was to wear two pairs of socks. These boots were awful to get crampons to fit. Most had to be adjusted by workshops heating the crampon and made to “fit” the boots. Often crampons broke due to metal fatigue from constant re heating ! What a change from today’s lightweight quick release crampon. Who remembers the faff of putting on crampons.

Plastic boots at Shenavall bothy my mate the late Mark “Cheeky” Sinclair”

In later on came plastic boots that were a game changer and nowadays have lead to the lightweight winter boots we have today. Also gaiters arrived on the scene the simple Karrimor gaiter was an excellent addition at the time. Before that it was socks over trousers for many !

Mid 70,s tartan shirts, Karrimor gaiters and String vests.

Looking at waterproofs we are now spoiled for choice and the prices. We had some awful gear early on the yellow smock designed to go over a rucksack by MOD was my first type of waterproof. It was awful and you took off in the wind. Look what is available now and the cost? Yet is any of it waterproof?

The Yellow smock huge and designed by the RAF.

Gloves – they were always a problem but we could not beat the early Dachstein gloves. What a wonderful thing they were and many still use them. A simple design and a good price.

Dachstein Mitts

Polar Fleeces – they were a game changer and I have written about them in the past. It was constantly wearing wet gear after days on the hill and out regularly on call outs later that day or night. Wet gear became the normal.

Nowadays few remember the basic gear we are spoiled for choice today.

The new material Gortex

Posted in Articles, Bothies, Equipment, Gear, Mountain rescue, Mountaineering, People, Scottish winter climbing., Views Mountaineering, Well being | 2 Comments

A Tribute to Guy Lacelle.

www.ukclimbing.com/news/2020/10/vertical_ice_the_spirit_of_guy_lacelle-72523

From UKC – “This week’s Friday Night Video takes a look at the life of Guy Lacelle, a renowned ice climber who tragically died in an avalanche just over ten years ago. He had made groundbreaking ascents from the Rockies to the Alps and was also a talented competition climber.

This film is told from the perspective of some of the best ice climbers in the world and archive footage to show the influence that Guy had on the sport.”

On our first trip to Canada in winter if 1984 we met Guy Lacelle on of the most incredible ice climbers I have ever met. We met in the Alpine Club in Canmore where we were staying on our week winter trip.

He was even in 1984 a pretty famous ice climber. On that trip we met many but Guy took to us I doubt he had met anyone like us before and gave us lots of advice on routes to climb. In these days there were not so many climbing in winter on Canada. The guidebook was pretty sparse and vague unlike today. Yet it was the trip of a lifetime.

We climbed hard and socialised even harder climbing 5 days a week and partying at the weekends. Guy was amazed by our small group and even climbed a new route “Sacre Blue” with Malcolm

at the end of our trip.

These were incredible days of simple ice climbing gear. We had Zero axes and Tom had a pair of Chacals and new foot-fangs. We had and Canada was so quiet you rarely met another climber on the routes.

Guy gave us so much local knowledge advised us on routes and took us to places that were unknown then. In these early days he soloed everything we could climb. He was so natural on ice yet laughed especially at my attempts on routes. Climbing then was fun, it was only part of the game. It was those who you met along the way.

We met so many of the names on that trip but Guy was some man. He became to many one of the worlds finest ice climbers yet as a man he was a lovely human being.

I laugh when I think back to his words “I thought all Scottish climbers could climb till I met you! “

His words never taken to hurt just to laugh at and with.

RIP Guy

Posted in Expeditions - Alaska - Himalayas etc, Films, Mountaineering, Scottish winter climbing., Views Mountaineering, Well being | 2 Comments

Is your Mobile phone registered for the 999 text service ?

My friend Anne Butler reminded me of this. It could save your life!

Is your mobile phone registered for the 999 text service?

If you have an emergency in the hills and do not have enough signal to make a voice call there may be sufficient signal to send an emergency text to 999.
I have used it and it works!
To do this your phone MUST be registered for the 999 text service.

Text the word ‘register’ to 999. You will get a reply, and should then follow the instructions you are sent. This will take about two minutes of your time and could save your life. Details in the link below.

http://www.mountainsafety.co.uk/EP-Emergency-SMS-Mobile-Phone-Text

Emergency SMS

Since 2009 it has been possible to send a text to the emergency services on 999 – referred to as EmergencySMS.  The service is primarily aimed at deaf and speech impaired people, but it is not restricted to that subset of the population.  

Important

A voice call to 999 must always be used in preference to a text.  (This advice is from BT, who run the 999 and Emergency SMS functions.) 

Before you can use EmergencySMS

To use the service you must first register, which is a simple process – see below.  

To register

1. Send the word “register” to 999
2. You will receive a message about the service
3. When you have read the message, reply with ‘yes’ (in a text message to 999)
4. You will receive a further message confirming registration, or that there has been a problem with registering your phone

To check registration

At any time you can check whether your phone is registered by sending the word ‘register’ to 999.

Using the Service

To use the service, you just send a descriptive text – see example – to 999 and await a reply. Do not assume that your message has been received until you receive a reply, which should be in 2 to 3 minutes.

If you do not have a signal on your home network, you will not be able to send a text to 999. 

Further info

For full details see http://www.emergencysms.org.uk/ with further information from Ofcom at http://consumers.ofcom.org.uk/2009/09/trials-begin-on-emergency-sms-system/

Please remember a phone needs to be fully charged if your on the hill and protected from the weather. I always carry a battery charger on the hill and protect my phone in a case.

Posted in Articles, Mountain rescue, mountain safety, Mountaineering | 2 Comments

The Maiden Whiten Head – Bronze Cross on summit?

The Maiden Whiten head

Whiten Head – The Maiden Original Route, 55 m HVS. This is where sadly Tom Patey lost his life in 1970 in an accident abseiling. My friends The late Ted Atkins and Smudge Smith climbed the Stack and left a bronze cross on the summit.

I wonder does anyone have a photo of it? Is it still there?

Abseil off Photo Smudge Smith.

One of the great mountaineering books I have ever read is” One Man’s Mountains” is 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.

Tom Patey (Doctor Stack) was a Scottish climber mountaineer, doctor and writer. He was a leading Scottish climber of his day, particularly excelling on new winter routes. He died in a climbing accident on a sea stack at Whiten Head – The Maiden at the age of 38 in 1970.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.

Posted in Articles, mountain safety, Mountaineering, Recomended books and Guides, Rock Climbing, Views Mountaineering | Leave a comment

Various types of travelling to Rescues !

1979 – Search Dog Dreish on the way home to Wales RAF VAlley after a Call out in Scotland. By Hercules.

Over the years I travelled to rescues by the usual methods land rovers and in the back of a 4 tonner. Later it became helicopters.

In the Desert Rescue it was by Andover aircraft with drops into the desert.

1973 – Masirah Desert Rescue Transport.

Later on we went on a big search from Wales via Hercules for a Jaguar aircraft.

In the past I also travelled with keepers across lochs in various boats for remote searches.

The Lifeboat helped on several rescues in Skye and we had a rib for years that was invaluable.

The Rib Daz Boat.

Looking back what a crazy times. But what memories.

Comments welcome.

From Al Haveron – Dreish was more than happy to lie on a seat travelling up to Prestwick in the Herc. Job done, rules are rules she had to be in cage to travel back. Heavy had to go to the butcher at RAF Kinloss to get a bone to tempt her into the cage.

Posted in Aircraft incidents, Mountain rescue, Mountaineering, Views Mountaineering, Well being | Leave a comment

A short wander the Beinn Eighe Mountain Trail. A few thoughts.

I had a short day on the Beinn Eighe Mountain trail that starts from the car park at Loch Maree. The weather had been poor with torrential rain but we had a short 3 – 4 hour weather window so my friend Kalie had chosen this walk as it may be sheltered from the weather.

On route we passed Torridon Mountain Rescue Team arriving at a local crag for team training. They were all Covid aware as we were but we had a chat then headed on to Kinlochewe.

A great insight into our walk.

It’s a great wee wander about 3- 4 hours ideal for the weather. The parking is easy and the car park busy with camper vans on the NW 500. You park and the trail starts by going under the road and into it seems another another world.

The route

It is a well marked path and so much to see on route. As you start from sea – level it takes you up to nearly 600 metres. The terrain is ever changing and we had great views of Slioch , Loch Maree and other hills. The mist was down on the higher hills but I had forgotten what a classic walk this is.

In the trees.

Many of the trees are incredible big old Scottish pines and at times you could think you were in a rain forest. The bracken is high and now browning in the late autumn and the Heather still has a few flowers. It’s the mosses that look so good thriving here the colours wild and vivid brighten this area.

Stunning mosses so rich in colour.

The path is steep in places and well marked with plenty of stops it follows a great line up the hill. The Quartzite made of the rock made the dull day a bit brighter. We Islay Kalie’s dog up front path finding the wee Collie was born for this we enjoyed the effort and the views.

Islay cracking company on the hill

The path becomes a geologists dream further up as you pass so many small crags. The colours on the rock and the lichen really brighten the day.

Kalie always smiling !

The path has groves cut in the quartzite and is well maintained with lots of cairns. The views were coming and going we could see Beinn Lair in the distance mist covered. I have just written about these wonderful hills.

We saw the rain coming it was a bit early than forecast as we stopped and put on the wet weather gear. It rained pretty heavy but it was still a great walk. We had only met two other couples on the way up. We hardly stopped at the top of the path and found ourselves in wild country.

A wee break before the rain.

It was then get to the top sadly no views today. It is a fantastic viewpoint of Beinn Eighe and the nearby Corbett but not today. We then headed down to the Lunar Loch so aptly namned . This is wild country of the path and after a big day on the hills you have to take care.

Just off the path we saw a wee shelter were some folk were getting out of the wind. A Bothy bag being well used. It was pretty wet by now but we had a break by the loch and the honey tea was just what we needed. As were the smoked salmon sandwiches with cheese. Living the culinary dream.

A bothy bag in action great kit.

The path goes back a different way a bit it avoids the steeper ground and easier but care needs to be taken on the Quartz in the wet.

You follow a fault further down where there is a stunning gorge. It is full of plants and trees surreal looking in places. There are many waterfalls to look at and the views coming down of Loch Maree are stunning .

The fault !

It did brighten up as we descended I grabbed the odd photos as Islay headed ahead. Slioch was still in the mist but it was a lovely walk down. Hard going on the knees and hips but well worth it. I could make out I think Spearhead ridge on Slioch another wonderful climb done many years ago.

On the way homev

It was then back down to the car park. It was busy and a lot of the time we could sadly hear the roar of the fast cars as they raced around the NC 500. I wonder what they see at times. How much they miss. Sadly the roads and the infrastructure are not doing well with all the additional traffic and you have to be aware of potholes especially in the rain. What is the solution?

We stopped at the garage at Kinlochewe and had a well earned hot chocolate and cake on the way back.

It was cold at times on the hill and though we were not that high just about 2000 feet. I think from now I will pack my winter sack with extra gloves and heavier jacket. What great day though thanks Kalie and Islay for the idea.

Kalie enjoying the hill !

This was the photo this morning a stunning sunrise. I love Scotland. Sadly though it’s the rutting season we never heard the stags.

Posted in Articles, Corbetts, Corbetts and other hills, Enviroment, Flora, Health, Local area and events to see, Mountaineering, People, Recomended books and Guides, Views Mountaineering, Weather, Well being, Wildlife | Leave a comment

A wander in my local area – Surfers, Wave Boarders diving birds Gannets and a Basking sharks as the sun goes down.

I was planning a hill day as the weather forecast was superb but I had a problem with my chimney and had to get it fixed. It was picked up by my Chimney Sweep and could have caused a fire. Once the contractors were sorted I headed out to Hopeman along the Moray trail. There was great surf up due to the Easterly wind and I saw 4 surfers just after the Maltings at Burghead. The coast was looking great with the spray and the big waves. It was a beautiful wander and I went down to the beach to watch them. You do not see the Surfers there often but the waves and the surf were stunning.

Hopeman Beach surfs up.

It was great to see folk out on the water and I headed to Hopeman for breakfast at the West Beach caravan site . Here there were groups in the water on Wave boards and lots of Surfers it was such a great day.

West Beach Hopeman

The sea was busy as the Surfers arrived word spread fast and I sat and watched them a great sight. The sun was up it was warm and everyone was having fun. Kids on the beach were in wet suits enjoying the water and it was the place to be. On my walk back Gannets were dive bombing in the sea always superb to watch.

Sunset in Burghead.

I was soon home after a brisk walk back and the contractors were finishing my chimney and putting in a new liner. It was still a lovely afternoon and I knew the sunset would be special. I put my wee house back to normal and sat outside in the sun.

In this photo was a Basking Shark

After dinner I headed up to the old Coastguard station in Burghead there was a big crowd. A basking shark was close by and we all watched and were amazed by it. The light was failing but I saw it what a sight. The Moray Firth was looking great under a yellow then pink Sky. Folk were about young kids being introduced to nature they are so lucky to live here. It was then home to await a big change in weather forecast today.

Last of the light.

I live in a lovely place we are so lucky.

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Mountain Memories A remote route Beinn Lair Wisdom Buttress. The Classic Corbett’s of Beinn Lair and Beinn a’ Chaisgein Mor and Meeting Andy Nisbet.

I was lucky to climb on Beinn Lair for my only time many years ago (it was 36 years in 1984) when we went into Beinn Lair one of Scotland’s remotest hills. It is a classic day and these two Corbett’s of Beinn Lair and Beinn a’ Chaisgein Mor on the North side of the Fionn Loch are two fine Corbett’s.

Nowadays a few get the boat across from Loch Maree when it runs, my pals were over last week and had a wonderful day out. The area has also many remote Munros the classic Fisherfield 5/6 and so many great cliffs.

We had seen many the cliffs on our Munro bagging adventures and from the Wessex helicopter as we flew with new crews on familiarisation sorties. At times dropping of hidden food caches at remote Bothies a perk we had worked on and benefited for years. I had managed occasionally to get a trip in the new Sea King and show them some of the out of the way crags that they may get a call out on. These were great trips and also gave me an opportunity to hide more food, coal and the odd bottle at bothies. The walk in to Beinn Lair from Poolewe even today with a mountain bike it’s still a long cycle/ walk in. I did it with the late Al McLeod in 1984 after an abortive trip on the nearby Canmore where we climbed Fionn Buttress a great Scottish VS.

I found it hard in a big wind and the odd shower that day we saw eagles. The next day was still damp and I managed to get Al to climb on the opposite side of the Glen on the remote Corbett of Beinn Lair. The area is dominated by the Fionn Loch a wonderful remote place and in these days access was never easy.”In days of yore” the climbing guide was very vague the area has so many incredible routes that little was written about Beinn Lair nowadays in the superlative SMC Guide to the Northern Central Highlands and others there is a lot more detail. Wisdom Buttress is now graded Severe is a 220 metre ( 700) feet three star route, with 7 pitches and was first climbed in June 1951 by by J. Smith, Miss A Hood. J.S. Orr. One can only imagine the limited gear of that era?

View from ridge to Canmore

Little was little known about this climb to us and we had an hard day especially route finding. It’s a long route and then as now not great in protection. I carried the rope Big Al took minimum gear (as always I carried some extras) it was graded Very Diff but seemed a lot harder it was pretty wet near the top and here the route finding was serious. My extra gear as always came in handy at times. Al managed as always to get up the route, he was a big strong man and I kept him on the rough line. He was dressed in his very light red wind-suit he never felt the cold and we ticked the Corbett and ran of the hill to get warm. My wee Olympus camera got wet and I lost all the photos. Yet I have great memories of that classic route but sadly no photos. Al was training for the big routes went on to climb high on the West Ridge of Everest, summit on Shivling and climb the North Face of the Eiger. Sadly he fell whilst soling the North Face of the Matterhorn a few years later in July 1989. I still miss him and this was one of my best days with Al.

The last time I was on Beinn Lair was with Gail and Stephen on Beinn Lair after my trip to Everest in 2001. It was a long day we walked in from Poolewe with huge bags and camped on the beleach . The last thing I needed was after spending 3 months in a tent was 2 days camping in Fisherfield. Yet it was as always magic and I was fit after being away so long. Seeing the great hills, lochs and cliffs again was just what I needed even after the wildness of Tibet and Everest to me this is special country. On the way in we had met only one person it was Andy Nisbet who had been soloing on Carnmore Crag Fionn Buttress for a new guide book he was working on . He had been his own for several days and we had a great chat.

Todays guide books are excellent.

We saw this figure in the distance moving fast with a huge ginger beard and big bag as he got closer it could only be the one and only Andy Nisbet. He stopped for a while asked how my trip was then we had a bleather in the middle of no where. He spoke of climbing with an Eagle for company and some of the routes he climbed. I mentioned my epic years before and Andy laughed, then off he limped back to civilisation his old climbing injuries playing up after his prolonged stop. Though Scotland’s most famous new router he always had time to chat with us mere mortals and we had met in many out of the way places in the past. Sadly Andy was killed with his pal Steve on Ben Hope in the Feb of 2019. this was a huge loss to all.

I hope to go back and get these hills done again see the great cliffs like I did in the mist as I walked up Beinn Lair following the ridge line and looking into these huge cliffs. It is a place surrounded by superb hills, lochs, goat’s eagles and lots of winter potential for new routers and for many chasing some of Scotland’s classic routes.

Gail on Beinn Lair

Even today this is a remote area and an accident here in bad weather could be difficult be careful but if you want adventure this is the place. As for the harder climbs on Canmore “Hard Rock routes” that’s another story.

Comments as always welcome.  

New route on Beinn Lair 1971 photo Graham Hunter – thank you Sir.

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Professor Norman Collie and John Mackenzie honoured with bronze sculpture

It was great to see that the incredible statue to these two giants of Mountaineering is now completed and is on place at Sligachan with great views onto the Skye Ridge. It has been 17 years in the making. What a great effort by all involved. I traveled back from Harris but due to a delay in the Ferry it was to dark for a photo. I will get back and pay homage to these two greats of Skye mountaineering.

Photo Skye Sculpture Group.

“How can we thank this man for all he has done for the group over 17years.
STEPHEN TINNEY
The Artist.
Stephen listened to the group in 2004. We had an idea we wanted to celebrate John Mackenzie and Norman Collie. Stephen listened to our dream and came back to the group with the first maquette,he had captured the two men perfectly.
Little did we know how long a journey we were taking. Stephen has always been there for the group helping us throughout with artwork and visuals.
In 2015 we were invited to speak at a big event. Stephen made us a larger maquette for this and other events whilst trying to raise the funds needed.
We have seen and lived with the maquettes for quite a number of years now but nothing could prepare us for the final sculpture that is now in place at Sligachan.
We would not compromise. This sculpture had to be monumental, it had to be traditional and it had to sit in the landscape.
Stephen Tinney what you have produced is magnificent.
We thank you so much for sticking by us and giving us and everyone on Skye and around the world this sculpture.

A Sculpture for Skye
By Stephen Tinney.”

https://m.facebook.com/skyesculpure

BBC news also carried the story

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-highlands-islands-54264403

Posted in Articles, Islands, Mountaineering, People, Rock Climbing, SMC/SMT, Views Mountaineering, Well being | 2 Comments

Last day in Harris “The Golden Road”

At the famous Sams Seafood Shack it was windy.

We had an easy start after our hill day it was windy and pretty cold at times. We had lunch at Sam’s Seafood Shack at Rodal then we headed along the Golden road. We had a superb lunch of fresh chowder and lobster sandwich.

The Golden Road – The south east coast of Harris, stretching from Tarbert down to Rodel, is deeply indented by lochs and contains some of the rockiest low level scenery anywhere in Scotland. For much of history the many tiny settlements that dot this coast were accessible only by sea. But in 1897 a road was built along the coast, linking these settlements together.

This east coast road is widely known as the Golden Road,apparently because of the very high cost of building it. It’s superb and we had a grand wander along it. It’s mainly a tight single track road with great views of the lochs and sea. There is so much rock about and we had short walks regularly with the dog.

The lovely campsite we visited.

The road was not busy and a wonderful place to be it was wet and windy then the sun came up 4 seasons in a day. It was a day to relax before heading back and sorting out for travelling home. How I would like to cycle this road it is stunning. Kalie drove the whole way bless her.

It was a great ending to a superb week there have been so many wonderful views and despite the virus great folk to meet. The bothy we stayed in was superb and the beaches, big skies, seas, lochs and hills make this some place to be. Now back to the mad world.

Posted in Bothies, Cycling, Enviroment, Islands, People, Views Political?, Weather, Well being | 1 Comment

Harris incredible weather a walk up Clisham and a visit to the Colby camp near the summit.

Big skies in the morning.

Yesterday we had a look at the weather forecast and decided to climb Clisham . It had been over 40 years since Kalie had climbed it with her late husband Nigel. She had wanted to climb it today but the weather was perfect yesterday. It was a stunning 30 minute drive to our hill the island was looking stunning with huge skies and great visibility. As always the sea and beaches looked magnificent. We would loved to have climbed the full horseshoe but today it was to be a slow wander up to the Corbett summit. There were few cars in the car park and we wandered along by the river it’s very wet badly eroded and boggy ground. We stopped often to enjoy the views which were stunning. The path is easily lost here in places and soon we were onto the steep ground very rocky in places with scree and lots of rock. The Sky was huge and as we climbed with Islay Kalie’s wee dog always ahead we savoured the views. In winter this can be a steep winter climb.

Not today as once high on the rocky ridge we could see the whole Island and the mainland. In the distance was St Kilda a great sight a place I have huge memories off from past visits.

The view from the car park of Clisham

The Clisham is a mountain on Harris, on the island of Lewis and Harris in the Western Isles of Scotland. At 799 metres it is the highest mountain in the Outer Hebrides and the archipelago’s only Corbett.

I was near the summit enjoying the views when I saw a pair of Eagles soar above. The final ridge is grand and the trig point summit is a rounded domed cairn. Thus us where we met two folk from Arran another Island I love. Her we sat to have lunch and it was then I noticed I had left the sandwiches in the fridge. It did not spoil the day though Kalie was very understanding as was Islay with my incompetences.

Kalie ahead .

We spend a long time in the sun at the top I went along the ridge to the other top.

We both loved the views and the peace and beauty of this place. I spotted the Colby Camp just off the ridge and took some photos.

Colby camp Clisham

Note – There is a ‘Colby’ camp, similar to that at Creach Bheinn (see NM85NE 2 for details) situated beside the primary triangulation pillar on Clisham, at NB 1548 0730. They are ruins of shelters, windbreaks etc on the summits of hills across the Highlands left by OS parties during the principal triangulation of Britain in the 19th century. Colby and his men lived for weeks on lots of mountains taking bearings to other summits when weather permitted. Hardy men

Other Colby Camps

On one trip Colby recce camp sites and triangulation stations over mountainous terrain. He is recorded as walking 586 miles in 22 days , including Sundays! The only summit he failed to reach was the Cuillin in Skye. SMC J 2013

Summit views

There was no rush to descend but we set off down the ridge picking a dryer line back to the car. We stopped often enjoying the heat and company. It was a superb day out and one to savour. The views the weather and of course a good scenery . Islay got a wash in the burn at the end of the day and the drive back was superb.

What a day another I and Kalie will never forget and the day was completed with a walk along the beach at sunset. Today brings a bit higher winds but still good weather we are so fortunate to be in Harris.

Happy Islay

I was often on the Island in my other job in the RAF as a Caterer where I came over regularly to Stornaway to work out the Daily Messing Rate for the RAF personell at Stornaway and Uig. I met so many local characters in those days. Looking back they were a great chance to meet folk.

I did not get much spare time to look about then. Also as a member of the RAF MRT we often came over to climb and walk. Looking back I have been very lucky. Sadly RAF Stornaway is shut now but many memories are still with me.

RAF Stornaway closed 31 March 1998

After sixteen years in this role and also the end of the Cold War, the station was finally closed on 31 March 1998 and reverted to Stornoway Airport.

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29 April 1990 The Shackelton aircraft crash on the Isle of Harris.

The Shackelton Crash Harris AEW MK2 WR965. 30thApril 1990 Grid reference NF 996914

I am in Harris just now having an incredible trip. I have been so lucky to walk and climb here over the years. It like all Islands has a magical feel about. The minute you leave the ferry you seem to enter another world.

I am here with a friend Kalie who has booked a lovely bothy near Scarisdale beach. Amazingly It is about 2 kilometres from where we were based for the Shackelton crash 30 years ago..

The Kinloss MRT in Harris

The RAF Mountain Rescue Service 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 on the Island of Harris.

I go back to the 30 April 1990 Isle of Harris, it is still so clear in my thoughts.

It was a beautiful day at RAF Kinloss which is situated in Moray on the North East coast of Scotland. Unusually a lot of the Mountain Rescue Team had gathered in the crew room. It was just before lunch time when I was told on the phone by the Aeronautical Rescue Coordination Centre (ARCC) and there was a Shackelton 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 10minutes and would take 10 of my team to the area. This is called a “fast party” a quick fast response to any incident. I was the Mountain Rescue Team Leader at Kinloss I had a very strong team on this incident.

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 Seaking 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.

In any incident the helicopter flies flat out on a Rescue the crew are in full on mode and as a Team Leader you are on a microphone direct to the crew.

This is especially true when it is an aircraft from their station at RAF Lossiemouth, nothing was spared. I was up front 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 possibly crashed. Due to the remoteness of the area I spoke to my control the ARCC and asked for the rest of the RAF Kinloss team to be sent immediately to assist.

As we neared the area 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 Maodal 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 horrific battlefield, a tangled mess of a once proud aircraft and the casualties,all fatal scattered around. These 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, 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.

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 Police and a Crash Investigation Team on scene as soon as possible. Our next task is to secure the site which was still very dangerous 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 incredible to my team and helped in the difficult days that we had ahead. I still owe them so much.

By now The cloud had cleared and I saw that this was one of the most sad but beautiful places in Scotland. The local Police 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 night 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 Jetstream aircraft and by Hercules aircraft complete with our Mountain Rescue vehicles, they were all on scene by 1600, an amazing piece of organisation.  In the end I had 27 Team members, the 4 Tonner vehicles’ arrived by Ferry the same day!

Once the site had been visited later on by the Board of Enquiry the team received permission to remove all the casualties from the scene, a hard and difficult task. These are words that do not express what horror there is in such a place, yet all the team worked hard. The 10 fatalities was a hard job to do and move away from the scene. These were in the early days of PTSD and few in power will ever realise the effect a tragedy like this has on those who carried out this task. We were accommodated in the Harris Hotel in Tarbet if not up at the crash scene and they looked after us so well.

After 3 days on scene we handed over the crash site to an 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.

This was a day I would never forget. We flew into Lossiemouth and drove through the camp for the short journey to Kinloss. The whole camp at Lossiemouth lined up as we drove through a very moving experience, waiting for their fallen comrades. It is still as clear as day in my eyes.

I will never forget that experience and then we had to go home to our families. Few spoke of what they had seen and done. It was our job.

The memorial

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’sfairly 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 have been back fairly often it is another part of my life that few understand. The views from the hill are very healing with the wildness of the area that makes this place so special and a place we should never forget.

This is what I wrote on my last visit. “On the summit the views were immense, unsurpassed with unique Island scenery of wild open stunning beaches, 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 local Doctor and these magnificent people from North Harris who treated us so wellover 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 Shackelton Crashes in their role in RAF Mountain Rescue. The first was on the 21 December 1967 when a Shackelton crashed at Locailort 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 Shackelton 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. 

“Lest We Forget”    

David Heavy Whalley MBE BEM

In memory of Shackleton crew Dylan who perished in the crash.

Wing Commander Stephen Roncoroni

Wing Commander 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

Today 23 Sept 2020 I will pay my respects by walking up to the memorial with Kalie the forecast is good so it should be a memorable day. I was supposed to come over for the 30 th Anniversary in April this year but Covid sadly stopped it. Today I will remember the crew and all those involved in the recovery .

Posted in Articles, Enviroment, Local area and events to see, Mountain rescue, Mountaineering, People, PTSD, Weather, Well being, Wildlife | Leave a comment

The Isle of Harris a trip down memory lane ?

I am so lucky just now I am in Harris the weather yesterday was perfect. We left the day before and had a superb night in Dunvegan then on to the Ferry at Uig next day. The drive from home was magical with the West Coast blue skies and the sun. I am over with a friend Kalie and her dog Islay.

Kintail.

Our trip tonight Skye was superb the ridge clear and we had a great night in Dunvegan in the Bed and Breakfast. We stopped often for a walk with Islay and the Skye ridge was looking superb.

Kalie and Islay Sgur na Gillean in the back ground.

We were away early next day to the ferry the haar was down and cobwebs were out on the gorse. I find it’s pretty unusual this but I always see it in these conditions.

Cobwebs

The ferry was strange surreal with everyone masked up all the time. Very busy with places pre – booked. We got a cup of tea on board and the journey was in the fog till we arrived on Harris. The sun was up, we stopped at The Harris Gin shop at Tarbet. It was then a great day in Harris visiting so many incredible places . The wild open beaches and the sea with few folk about were wonderful.

Busy beach?

The sun was out some haar came back but we just wanders all over enjoying the freedom. I love the huge sand dunes and beaches, the noise of the waves the stunning changeable views. The Island is a Geologists dream with so much rock about I love the shapes and colours each on unique.

Rose granite.

I had been to Harris many times but always to walk or climb. I sadly was here as Tram Leader of the RAF Kinloss Mountain Rescue Team in 1990 when the RAF Shackelton aircraft crashed killing all 10 of the crew. It was a hard time we were here for three days and the team did a sad but essential job . I will write about that during my stay. It crashed on a small hill called Maodal just above Sgarasta Bheag. This is only 3 kilometres from the crash on Maodal. Kalie has been here several times and did not know about the crash here. We will visit it though as it has a memorial on it. I will visit during my stay and pay my respects.

The hill Maodal and where we are staying

La’al Bothy | Self Catering Cottage Isle of Harris is where We arrived at our lovely wee house, it is perfect a short wander to the endless sandy beach at Scarasta and watched the sunset and listened to the waves.

Kalie loves it here as I do what a stunning few days already. On the sand we saw this lovely flower as we wandered back, living in such a wild place.

European sea rocket.
Posted in Aircraft incidents, Bothies, Enviroment, Friends, Islands, Mountaineering, People, Plants, Rock Climbing, Weather, Well being, Wildlife | Leave a comment

1987 – Edinburgh Castle in “days of yore” training with the Fire Service with Troll.

This photo is of a training day with the fire service and with Troll who made climbing harnesses and other safety equipment. We had been asked by I think Dave Alcock the “Troll guru”of his era to show the Edinburgh fire Service cliff extraction. The late Al MacLeod is in the photo. Sadly Al one of my closest pals was killed on the North Face of the Matterhorn. He was such an incredible man.

Looking back it’s amazing that we were at that time acknowledged as experts in our field. We advised and worked with many organisations.

At that time as we had done over the years teams had been using minimum equipment on call outs over the years. 500 foot ropes and figures of eight descenders were the simple gear then. Doing serious rescues in Skye and other areas we had learned to adapt to what we had with us at the time. Also how many folk we had to carry the gear.

Nowadays things are very different with all the crag gear available and it’s a lot safer. Yet depending on the weather often you have carry all the gear to an incident. Two lowering ropes, crag gear all the latest gadgets. A stretcher, first aid kit, casualty bag and your own gear it was never easy . Hamish helped by making a folding stretcher that could’ve used on on the crags.

As we climbed a lot then we came across many accidents in the cliffs and had to lower folk to safer ground with what we had. Climbing ropes were often used as were body belays on steep grass.

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Far North Aircraft crashes Part 2 – Cranstakie Corbett the Mosquito and Ben Loyal Hampden the local heroes who saved a life.

Beinn Spionnaidh is the northernmost peak in Britain over 2500 feet. A whaleback ridge of quartzite scree, it offers unique views of the north coast.It’s neighbour another Corbett Cranstackie is a mountain of 801 m in Sutherland, the northwestern tip of the Scottish Highlands. It is a Corbett located west of Loch Eriboll and northeast of Foinaven. Like Foinaven and Beinn Spionnaidh to the northeast, its top is covered with loose, broken quartzite. On this hill is the wreckage of a de Havilland Mosquito Mk.IV DZ486 of No.618 Squadron, RAF, crashed on Cranstackie NC 350560 at 2000 feet near Durness on the 5th April 1943 while on a bombing exercise from Skitten Mosquito DZ486 – Flew into hill while on a bombing exercise .The aircraft is reported to have flown over Durness and Balnakeil before turning south and flying down the glen towards Cranstackie. 5.4.1943

Cranstakie Mosuito crash site 2000.

Crew : F/O (124.814) Donald Louis PAVEY (pilot) RAFVR – killed Sgt (1220369) Bernard Walter STIMSON (obs) RAFVR – killed. I have visited this site on 3 occasions its a grand hill and enjoyed looking for the wreckage not easy in the days before GPS. NC 350560 ROUGH GRID REF

Ben Loyal known as the Queen of Scottish Mountaindis an isolated mountain of 764 m in Sutherland, the northwestern tip of the Scottish Highlands. It is a Corbett located south of the Kyle of Tongue and offers good views of the Kyle, Loch Loyal to the east, and Ben Hope to the west.Ben Loyal has the remains of an Hampden aircraft that crashed on the mountain in 1943. Grid Ref NC 583498 Sgor Chaonasaid at 1600 feet.The aircraft is a Handley Page Hampden, Serial No: P2118 Unit Codes: Z9-D Squadron: 519sqn Crash Date: 25.08.43 Based: Wick Crew:

Pilot; Flt Lt H. Puplett DFC,Navigator: F/O G. Richie,Radio Operator/Air Gunner:F/O C. Faulks Air Gunner:Sgt T Hudson-Bell

F/O Faulks was the only survivor when the aircraft flew into the side of Sgor Chaonasaid, the highest point in the Ben Loyal range. The aircraft was returning to Wick from an aborted search for missing Hampden P5334 when it flew into the hillside in a thunderstorm just before midnight on 25th August 1943. The rescue party arrived Ribigill a large farm house between Tongue and Ben Loyal, the rescue party were led by shepherd Mr E Campbell and Dr F Y McHendrick. The survivor was strapped to a piece of aircraft wreckage and carried him down from the mountain. after a long trip by horse and cart he was taken by RAF ambulance to Golspie’s Lawson County Hospital about forty miles away. He arrived there some 15 hours after the crash and was found to have very serious injuries including a broken right leg, a smashed up left foot and severe facial injuries and was initially not expected to live. Having spent some 18 months in hospital he rejoined his squadron taking up a ground-based role but was keen to be in the air again. He flew again before the War ended. Shepherd Eric Campbell and Dr Fowler Yates McKendrick M.B. Ch.B were both awarded the British Empire Medal for their rescue attempt on that night (Gazetted 3rd December 1943. In all they made six trips up and down to the aircraft that night, recovering the injured man and the bodies of his comrades. Dr McHendrick was also praised for his efforts in keeping F/O Faulks alive as they removed him to safety.

Ben Loyal wreckage photo Stuart McPhail

Aircraft Wrecks: The Walker’s Guide: Historic Crash Sites on the Moors and Mountains of the British Isles.

More info:

This study of aircraft crashes on hills and mountains of the UK and Ireland covers the period 1928 to 1992, the majority relating to World War II. Drawing upon Air Force records, civil accident reports and news reports, the author has included the accounts of survivors, eye-witnesses and rescuers.

Reference http://www.yorkshire-aircraft.co.uk/aircraft/scotland/p2118.htm

www.bbc.co.uk › history › storiesWW2 People’s War – A Lucky Escape – BBC

Please if visiting these crash sites treat them with respect. Young men lost their lives here.

Lest we forget.

Posted in Aircraft incidents, Articles, Corbetts, Mountain rescue, Mountaineering, People, Recomended books and Guides | Leave a comment

Far North Aircraft Crashes. Ben More Assynt Conival and Ben Klibreck – Munros with a sad tale.

I was up in the far North last week on Ben Hee the views of the distant Northern hills were exceptional. It is an incredible place with stunning mountains each have there own history and tales. A few of the hills have aircraft crashes from the Second World War on them. From this summit I could see a few mountains many with tales of those who gave so much. Few folk know they exist but you can add to a hill day by visiting these poignant places where so many gave their lives for us.

Ben More Assynt and Conival has an Anson crash that I have written about on my blog. It is on the locally known Aeroplane flats and is one of the sites that the crew were buried on site. There used to be a stunning cross marking the site but this was sadly falling apart and was replaced after a huge effort by the War Graves Commission.

The story of the crash site the story of this aircraft and its crew it is a reminder to those who gave so much. The crash site is a moving place at over 2000 feet high on Imir Fada near Ben More Assynt it is in a remote area about 5 miles from the nearest road.

This was a visit to the Anson Crash Memorial now replaced. The cross was a powerful reminder of those who gave their lives for us, Avro Anson  N9857  from 19 OTU RAF Kinloss Map reference NC 295224



On the 13th April 1941 an Anson aircraft from RAF Kinloss on a cross country training flight crashed near Ben More Assynt in the North West Highlands at Inchnadampth above Ullapool. The aircraft had taken off from Kinloss in less than ideal weather to follow a route via Oban, Stornaway and Cape Wrath before returning to Kinloss. The aircraft had completed the first two legs of its flight and reported passing Stornaway in icing conditions around this time the aircraft’s port engine lost power and failed. Sometime after this having either flown onto Cape Wrath or turning for base near Stornaway the aircraft flew into high ground in near white out conditions to the North East of Inchnadamph.  The aircraft was reported overdue at Kinloss and an air search was initiated but this failed to locate the missing aircraft, it wasn’t until the 25th May that the aircraft was located by a shepherd. All six of the crew were killed. The crash site is the only site in Scotland where the crew are buried at the crash site.

Flying Officer JH Steyn DFC.  Pilot

Pilot Officer WE Drew.             Observer/ Instructor

Sergeant J Emery.                      Wireless operator gunner

Flight Sergeant T R Kenny.       Wireless Operator

Sergeant CM Mitchell.              Observer Pupil

Sergeant HA Tompsett. .           Wireless operator gunner.

The new Memorial.

Ben Kilbreck

1955 March – Vampire Crash  – Ben Klibreck

In the past I have extended a day on Ben Klibreck it by going to an aircraft crash site on the South East Spur of Meall Ailein and to a monument to the crew of a Vampire Trainer aircraft from Royal Naval Station Lossiemouth that crashed in 17 March 1955 sadly killing both crew.

The RAF Kinloss Mountain Rescue team were involved in the recovery and located the crash in a wild March day all those years ago.  The weather was wild and after a 6 hours search the aircraft was located.  It is a remote site and a very impressive memorial set on the ridge with great views this wild part of Scotland. It is worth extending the day and going out to visit this site that few see.  The monument is marked on the map and pieces of the aircraft can be found a grid reference Sheet 16/6182316 and NC 619305

The Ben Kilbreck Memorial

Sadly both crew died –

Gaelic spelling of Klibreck

Lt Peter Leslie Beers aged 24

Lt John Knight aged 23

Lest We Forget

Please if you visit these sites treat with the upmost respect and have a few thoughts for those who gave their young lives for us.

Tomorrow blog RAF de Havilland Mosquito, Cranstackie, crash date 05/04/43 Ben Loyal Hampden crash

Posted in Aircraft incidents, Mountain rescue, Mountaineering, Munros | 2 Comments

I learned about Mountaineering from that?

I was looking back on a incident that I was involved a while ago. A solo walker left very early from Glasgow area to climb a Munro in February in the West Coast .

He reached the summit did his usual text to his family and stated he was heading down back to his car. The weather came in on his descent and he was in cloud and snow and found had made an 180 degree mistake leaving the summit which took him down into a remote Glen on the West Coast. There are few houses there no phone signal and he managed to get a lift by a passing local to a path that should take him back over the hill.

On his way on the path the weather came in again time was moving and he discovered he had left his gloves in the car. )He only had that pair with him)By now it was getting dark his hands were frozen and unusable when he needed them to use his compass and torch. I was told when he reached the ridge at 3000 ft he could not use his compass or torch and the weather was full on winter conditions.

Having no torch it was now nightfall he was on steep winter ground with cliffs stumbled and fell down the hill. That is the last he remembers. His family phoned the Police when he never called to say he was off the hill and were worried. He had left a route and the local Police located the car.

Due to the information a search was started that night and a the local team and SARDA did a search in wild winter conditions. Extra MRT teams were called in for a first light search. The casualty was located in the Glen early next morning about a mile from the road next to the river bank unconscious in a bad way. He was located near the river bank another foot and he would have been in the river. He was wearing dark clothing it was a great spot by the teams going into there search areas.

I thought that day there was little chance of his survival as he had such a poor pulse etc. There was little we could do try to keep him warm and we got a quick helicopter evacuation that helped save his life.He recovered fully and is alive and well after spending time in hospital.

It’s worth looking back and learning from incidents . I feel there are many lessons from this incident. In my view – He was saved as he had a great back up system: his family knew what hill he was on and his route. He always texted or called when possible on the summit and when he was back at the car. He had kept up the system for nearly 200 Munro’s over many years. The family were great as when he never called in they called the Police.

Points to note

As series of small mistakes added to what happened they built up as the day progressed.

Things went wrong when he took the wrong bearing ( always double check your bearing) especially if on your own.

He left his gloves in the vechile easily done always carry a spare pair especially in winter. When you lose your gloves in winter you use the use of your hands it is nearly impossible to navigate or use your torch.

Bright clothing is so effective if your wearing it on a search a Black and Green jacket maybe environmental friendly but hard to spot in a search if your huddled down or injured .

A few mistakes can cost a lot worth a few thoughts.

Great effort by all involved.

http://www.mountaineering.scot.com has superb advice on mountain safety. Well worth a read

Comments welcome .

Posted in Articles, Enviroment, Mountain rescue, mountain safety, Mountaineering, Munros, People, Recomended books and Guides, SMC/SMT, Views Mountaineering, Weather, Well being | 2 Comments

The Big Fall – “The Hill” Creag Dubh Sept 83

The Big Fall.

We all had a weekend off for a Team wedding at Craigellachie. It was a Classic Highland wedding with lots of whisky. At this time a few of us we’re mad about climbing and had planned to climb on the Sunday after the wedding. We had our own cars we headed for Creag Dubh near Newtonmore after a wild night.

Now I have never been a climber but was getting ready for my Team Leaders course. I had done a few routes here in the past with some of the rock gods. It was also a place that sorted out a few of those in the team who thought Scottish routes were easy! The cliff had a fierce reputation as it was steep and in these days projection was never easy! It’s pretty intimidating and I found it a wild place, we called it “Creag Death“. Lots of the top climbers of the period were putting up routes here. It had gained an even fiercer reputation. In the early days Douglal Haston and friends had climbed routes here but they were not accepted by the SMC due to the names they had gave them, many with a sexual innuendo.

This is from UKC Creag Dubh Crag features

Creag Dubh is one of Scotland’s biggest and finest ‘roadside’ crag.It is worth noting that the SMC refused to publish outcrop routes until the 1970’s despite this being a major crag. The schist with horizontal strata offers some wonderfully steep routes on big holds. Many of these routes are up to 3 pitches and can be intimidating, as they are very exposed and protection may be spaced. The crag faces south and dries quickly, but weeps. Generally the rock is sound but sometimes blocky. Creag Dubh is not a good choice for the beginner as there is little below Severe. However, from VS upwards the routes are good and the choice increases with the grade. The midges can be dreadful during still days, and ticks abound in the bracken.”


Back to our tale: We had a leisurely start and headed over to Creag Dubh it was busy with Glenmore Lodge about. I think there was a assessment going on that day. I was climbing I think with Bruce West on a classic three star VS called the Brute on the Great Wall. It was a Kinloss route Terry Sullivan and N.Collngham Oct 59. It a great climb and we were on it.

The Brute the day of the Fall.

It was sunny the crag was busy my mate Jock Pirrie was climbing with a young Paul (Pam) Ayers. Both were climbing well. They were on a route called the Hill a famous now E2 first climbed by K. Spence and J.Porteous in Sept 1966.


Bruce was up the first pitch of The Brute when I was seconding. I heard a shout then a scream and watched as Pam fell from the second pitch of The Hill. He was high up and I saw some gear pull and he ended up just of the ground by a few inches.It was an horrific fall to watch. Jock had just stopped him hitting the ground by inches.
He was hanging on his harness with a face full of character. I will never forget the noise as he fell and I had witnessed many falls in the past. He was pretty shook up but still all there when lowered to the ground. There were soon other climbers around including Glenmore. Pam got lowered he looked okay but was pretty spaced out by his big fall.
He was battered but seemed okay and more worried about his bandoleer of gear he had lost as he fell. It is still I would imagine in the boulders and ferns at the bottom of the cliff? There are a few dead sheep here!

First Aid
Others had checked him but I got down and said we would look after him. I checked him over again. He climbing in shorts and his Willians Harness it had cut into his groin like a knife due the fall. Pam was pretty worried when he saw it and the shock kicked in. I was really worried to was very near the main artery so we hobbled off not easy through the boulder field into my old Simca car. I thought we could get medical help in Aviemore but we had to go to Inverness.


I drove like a loony and when we got to AE we were told to wait. Pam was struggling by now so I asked the receptionist to get a doctor . I was told to wait. I told Pam to drop his pants and he showed her the cut. The doctor was called and Pam was stitched up. He was told if the cut had been any deeper he could have died as the blood loss would have killed him. Pam was as hard as nails. He was stitched up and given the all clear to go. He had used one of his 9 lives.


He was told to take a few weeks of climbing. Within three weeks we climbed:
Eagles Ridge on Lochnagar, The Long Climb on Ben Nevis (when his stitches came out) another group were horrified as his wound stated to bleed near the top of the route
Tailisman and Clean Sweep in the Cairngorms.

Pam on Centurion.


We climbed a lot together and then he went off next year to attempt to climb the North Face of the Eiger with his mate Joe. Now that’s another story. Sadly Jock is no longer with us died at a young age of skin cancer. I will never forget what he said when he found that Pam was okay, he offered to help me but I said I was ok then he asked of anyone fancied finishing the route!

Typical Jock What a man.

The Late Jock Pirrie on Pabay – Photo Pete Greening.

Top Tip – If you have an accident make sure you do a thorough check we nearly missed Pam’s injury. You will be shocked as well to see a mate fall. Worth thinking about.

Guide Book

Posted in Articles, Equipment, medical, Mountain rescue, mountain safety, Mountaineering, Recomended books and Guides, Rock Climbing, SMC/SMT, Views Mountaineering, Well being | Leave a comment