Two Star Red – Zero Gully – Johnnie Lees and others!

Two Star Red - The Story of the RAF MRT.

Two Star Red by Gwen Moffat is a great book about the early days of the RAF Mountain Rescue and gives an  insight into mountaineering and mountain rescue in the 50’s and 60’s. Gwen married Johnnie Lees and was one of the first women guides, she has had an incredible life and is a fairly well-known author. Her other books describe how hard it was to be a single woman climber with a young child in these years. How things have changed, thank goodness. You can pick up some of Gwen’s books on Amazon she is still an incredible lady.


Johnnie Lees and John Hinde in Wales - two of the greats of RAF MRT - sadly missed.


I was looking back into some of the history I have on mountain accidents and found the early accident on Zero gully when 3 climbers were killed after a fall in Zero gully when the belay an ice axe broke. After this Hamish Mc Innes set about designing a metal axe as there were a few other accidents where axes had broken after a fall. I have an unpublished interview with Hamish telling me this and a few other incredible stories. There is a great article in the SMC Journal by Tom Patey on the first ascent called “The Zero Gully Affair”.     Hamish was running a climbing  course at Steall hut when he heard that the gully was in condition, it was his route and he had to be there! He crashed into the CIC  Hut and forced his way into the first ascent. His gear was already in it due to a failed previous attempt and is an incredible story, wonderful reading. I am sure it is republished in Tom Pateys book “One Man’s Mountains” and maybe Cold climbs?

The thaw goes on and I have not been out on the hills this week, fuel is so expensive so saving for my trip to Canada. I have a wee lecture to Lomond MRT at Nethy Bridge on Saturday and hope to get out on the hills at the weekend. I will be trying to be talk about Mountain Rescue and some of my experiences. The chat is entitled ” I learnt about Rescue from that” It is good to pass on and learn from some of the mistakes we made in the past, that is the only way you learn. Worth knowing?

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 Articles, Books, History, Lectures, Mountain rescue, Mountaineering. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Two Star Red – Zero Gully – Johnnie Lees and others!

  1. Peter White says:

    Sadly Heavy I don’t think you can get a copy of Two Star Red anywhere. There was a copy at Kinloss that vanished around 1980. Fortunately I read it before that but have never seen another copy since.


  2. Lin Cee says:

    Oh to stumble on this! I thing you were on Kinloss team with my dad in the 60’s. I know John Hinde was 🙂 My sister is trying to find a copy of 2 Star Red – which is how google brought us here 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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