RAF Kinloss MRT 1980’S -1990’s

1984 – 24 Jan – Searching in the Cairngorms. Photo Dave Tomkins. Note shovel and probe on back of rucksac.

RAF Kinloss MRT  a few of the call-outs during this period.

1980 – 17 August – RAF Kinloss – Nimrod Crash – OIC MRT Navigator, survived

1981- 31 December -Cairngorms Hells Lum – Cragfast climber on Escalator.

1982 – 7-9 December – Skye- Stron Na Stri – F111 Crash 2 Crew killed – team at crash site for over a week.

1982 –  26 September – Skye – In-Pin 1000’ lower at night, fallen climber.

1983- 11-12 November –  Balbeggie nr Dundee – Cessna Crash – 4 rescued alive, 2 fatalities nr Dundee

1984 – 22 January – Cairngorms – Great Blizzards – 5 fatalities, in one weekend.

1986 – 6 November – Shetlands – Helicopter Crash – 45 Fatalities team assisted in local search

1988 – 3 September – Ben Nevis Race 15 taken off hill in poor weather

1982 Rockall.

When you look back these were busy years for the teams, with the 1980’s starting off with a Nimrod crash near the airfield which involved the Officer i/c Eric Hughes. In this tragic crash both pilots were killed and the rest of the crew escaped with their lives. The team was involved in this event as it happened during the working day and was in a difficult area for the emergency services to get to. It also involved trips to the Alps and team members were very active in the Himalayas and Canada in winter. All these were great for the team and improving the calibre of team member needed to cope with the ever-increasing demands on it. We also still managed to climb new routes many unreported in Scotland and the big Walks continued and even a trip to Rockall covered in my Blog previously.

Mountain accidents were increasing and the team was called an involved in several of the huge call-outs of this era. Many had great results like a rescue with Skye MRT at night on the In Pin of Sgur Dearg where a climber fell and hit the base. What followed was an epic lower down to the An Stac Screes in a wild all night incident. This was like many happened on a Sunday night after a great weekend in Skye. At times like these the weather was very poor and the helicopter could only take us to the corrie base. Carrying a stretcher and 2 x 500 ropes a casualty bag and climbing gear is not easy. The ground is incredibly loose and it was a long epic lower down to the screes with the Team Leader Gerry Ackroyd and his team. To bring someone of alive is a great feeling and on a rescue like this it is so good to get  a great result.

In 1984 there were more great blizzards and what a few days that turned out to be. I had the Friday off and was planning to go into Hells Lum Crag with one of the young team members Pam Ayres  and climb one of the big routes there. Fortunately he had a busy night shift and we arrived late at the car park. The weather was great with a wild frost and clear winter weather, we had planned to join the team at Newtonmore and instead went to Creagh Dubh and climbed Wee Wee and the rib direct in great conditions. At the end of the day the weather changed and huge winds and snow chased us as we abseiled off the crag. The team had a hard drive down from Kinloss in the building storm. The roads were getting blocked. Next day we tried to get to the Cairngorms but the road was blocked, we sat it out at the cafe near Glenmore Lodge. There was now way the road was clearing and had a wild day on the wee hills nearby the snow was incredible. Cars and the train was blocked in wild weather.Cairngorm MRT were assisting the police and we were on standby. Next day we were just having a coffee waiting for the ski road to clear when we were told that a group of 3 students were having a problem getting out of Corrie an Lochan.  They had walked in on the Friday from Herriot Watt University and failing to find the hut bivouacked. It was not till the Sunday that one of group made it out for help. We went up with Glenmore lodge Instructors who have their own team and found the three dead of exposure a real terrible tragedy. They were so close to the road it was a huge shock to find them. After this we were told that over 30 others were missing. There was no time to dwell on the tragedy of the students as two who were missing involved a great friend Paul Rodgers who was an instructor at Ballahullish in Glencoe. He had been out with a student snow-holing and not returned. What followed was a huge search involving all the local teams for several days but no sign was found. As the teams were told to stand down, his friends went out again and found Paul and his companion on the lip of Coire an t- Sneachda. It was another tragedy made worse by the fact we knew Paul well he had just been over giving us a lecture a few weeks before. It just shows how even the best mountaineers when nature is at its worst can struggle and even perish  in the Scottish Mountains. John Allen the ex Leader of Cairngorm Mountain Rescue tells this and other stories of these incidents  in his book “Cairngorm John” This was a huge Call-out and one I learned so much from, team member’s really put every effort in. The teams were all exhausted. It was fitting that Paul and his companion were located by his friends from the Mountaineering Centre as the search was called off.

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 Aircraft incidents, Book, Bothies, Mountain rescue, Mountaineering, Recomended books and Guides, SMC/SMT, Views Political?. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to RAF Kinloss MRT 1980’S -1990’s

  1. Chalky says:

    And the memories flood back, the Escalator incident was as tragic as it was bizarre with one of the casualties taking a poly,( Bivi) bag ride from top to bottom of Hells Lum and the other with only one boot on, still on the rope, sadly deceased.


  2. Pingback: Jean’s Hut – a lost Cairngorm bothy | cairngormwanderer

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