I was looking through some old photos and found this photo of the late Ben Humble (1903 – 1977) was a prolific author and a noted Scottish climber who was a pioneer of Scottish Mountain Rescue. As a member of the Scottish Mountaineering Club he was very involved in mountain Safety. I went to a couple of his lectures on mountain safety in my early years and they were an eye opener to a young climber. He was the compiler of the Accident Stats for 30 years for Scotland and could be very critical in his analysis of an accident, especially of English climbers but I am sure that was part of his sense of humour. He was also a keen photographer and film maker. During the war he produced several educational films in order to support the war effort. Ben Humble and was born in Dumbarton in 1903 he loved the Arrochar area and spent much time exploring the hills near his home.. Despite his total deafness he became a dentist, later making advances in Forensic Dentistry. A biography of his life, “The Voice Of The Hills – The Story Of Ben Humble” was written by his nephew Roy Humble in 1995.
Ben liked the RAF Mountain Rescue Teams and always enjoyed their company. He was treated as a bit of a celebrity by us. He enjoyed taking the micky out of the younger guys especially me. John Hinde another legend at the time was a great friend of Ben and was always ensuring that Ben was looked after. Ben would tell us young lads some great stories especially about remote howfs that he knew that may be worth a visit. Great memories.
It was Skye that Ben loved as a young man he went to Skye with a friend no easy task in these early days. By accident the young men had stumbled upon John Mackenzie – the famous Cuillin mountain guide after whom the peak of Sgurr Mhic Coinnich was named by his climbing partner of many years, Norman Collie. Mackenzie, though born a crofter at Sconser, had climbed every peak in the Cuillin – some for the first time – and had, with Collie and others, pioneered rock-climbing in Skye. It was Mackenzie’s encouragement,Ben says, that gave them the courage to “leave the road” and embark upon mountaineering. After traversing the Trotternish Ridge and the Quirang, Ben Humble and his pal went to Glen Brittle and climbed Sgurr Alasdair – beginning a love affair with Skye and the Cuillin that would last Humble’s life, and lead in due course to his publication of “The Cuillin of Skye”. That lay more than two decades ahead. What a man. They do not make characters like this any-more.
There is a small plaque at Glenmore Lodge beside the Alpine garden where Ben spent so much time in his later years. it states “In memory of Ben Humble, MBE, who created this Alpine garden in the shadow of the hills he loved so well. A pioneer of mountain rescue in Scotland and for many years a voluntary instructor at Glenmore Lodge – 16-4-77″