The Cairngorm disaster a look back.

RAF Kinloss MRT Mc Raes Barn Glenbrittle Skye, I had been in the taem for 6 months when this photo was taken, just a bairn.

I was trying to play golf yesterday at Elgin with an old friend Stewart Mac Kenzie, we had a good game though the knee was a bit sore. I was invited back for my tea and we had a great meal with Stu and his wife, magic soup and a stew, all home-made using most of his own vegetables. Stu was in the Mountain Rescue when I joined in 1972 and looked after me. He was also one of the team who was involved in the Cairngorm disaster in November 1971 when 6 children and an adult were caught out on the Cairngorm plateau and died in a blizzard. This was a disaster that changed mountaineering forever and undoubtably effect all the teams involved. Very few of the people involved talk about the rescue that followed as there were 2 survivors one young lad and a teacher. It was a terrible reminder of what can happen when it all goes wrong on the mountains. It was a catalog of errors from a late start in November with only 6-8 hours of daylight, a poor route, too long for the time and of year and a bit too much for children. In the end they bivouacked and died in a blizzard near the safety of a bothy on the plateau.  When I do my mountain Safety lectures I always talk about this disaster as there are so many points that are relevent every year and many do not know the story. It should not be forgotten.

Peaceful Lochan Buidhe in the summer, completly different in bad weather.


I will be up in the Cairngorms on Thursday with my friend Ryan from Torridon we are hoping to get out for a walk across the plateau before the winter comes. The cairngorm plateau is a wonderful place when you get away from the paths, there are so many places to explore. I hope the weather is good and the knee holds up, we will soon see.

About heavywhalley.MBE

Mountain Rescue Specialist. Environmentalist. Spent 37 years with RAF Mountain Rescue and 3 years with a civilian Team . Still an active Mountaineer when body slows, loves the wild places.
This entry was posted in Golf, History, Mountain rescue, Mountaineering. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to The Cairngorm disaster a look back.

  1. Yvette Kershaw says:

    I had nightmares for years about the Cairngorm disaster and it definitely affected the way I handled school trips. Such a sad waste. On a brighter note, why is Ryan only wearing boots and pants in this pic??


  2. heavywhalley says:

    It really affected the way Education handled trips after this most of it for a very good reason, unfortunately it is so difficult for kids to get an introduction to the outdoors now in this safe society and Health and Safety world. I really feel for the kids and the teachers. It is very hard to get it right.
    Yes that is Ryan showing of, it must be a Torridon (west) coast thing! Maybe I was wrong putting that photo on after such a tragedy, but life goes on and we must learn from the past, Ryan get some clothes! I will have a word with his Mum!.


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