Ben Humble MBE.

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.

Pete Mc Gowan RAF Kinloss Team Leader and the late Ben Humble a pioneer of Scottish Mountain Rescue. This was the night 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!

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″

About heavywhalley.MBE

After dinner speaker Lecturer and Mountain Rescue Specialist. Environmentalist. Spent 36 years with RAF Mountain Rescue and 4 years with a civilian Team . Still an active Mountaineer and loves the wild places.
This entry was posted in Books, Bothies, Mountain rescue, Recomended books and Guides. Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Ben Humble MBE.

  1. David Steane says:

    Heavy –
    I never knew Ben, but I have read the biography by his nephew. And Ben’s book “The Cuillin of Skye” is in my top 10 favourite books about the mountains of Scotland.

    Here’s a great quote from Ben:

    “The hill-goer’s memories are many and varied, and can never fade: of winter climbing when in the morning the tops are bathed in the rose flush of dawn; of the climb and maybe the hearty labour of step cutting; of gaining the summit and gazing around on a sea of snow capped peaks sparkling in brilliant sunshine; of the descent and the exhilaration of a long glissade. Memories too of wild stormy days and the fierce joy of battle through the wind, rain, and the mist, and of perfect summers days and bivouacs high up on the mountains.

    And the sunsets? After a long day on the hills there comes a pleasing sense of well-being and fitness, and the hill-goer appreciates the more those glorious West Highland sunsets. The lovely peaceful sunsets over Jura from the hills of Knapdale, the stormy sunsets over the mountains of Rum from Mallaig, and above all, the sunsets in Eilean a’Cheò [Skye]. To see the mighty steel blue range of the Cuillin, splintered peaks against a crimson sky, is unutterably splendid.

    These are just a few of the rewards for those who hear and answer the call of the hills.”

    Bet that stirs a few memories of your own!

    David

    Like

  2. Roy Humble says:

    Somewhat late in posting a follow up comment, but it’s good to know folk still remember Ben and the lasting value of his contributions.

    Like

  3. Angela says:

    As a teenager i met Ben Humbel at glenmore lodge oct 1961where as school girls we spent a month at the lodge… i will never forget how he made us laugh and enjoyed the trecking with him as our guide all around glenmore. My son is a award winning scottish landscape photographer and recienty was taking photographs for visit scotland up in Aviemore memories came back to me of all the places we visited in the spey vally.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. George Pringle Scarbrough says:

    Ben was a good friend and close neighbour in the 70s. Great fun to argue with, as you had to write everything down, and he would ither ignore it or stick it in his pocket. On a long train journey to London, the other tavellers thought I had the impediment. He never shut up, and I never spoke. Prior to his death he gave me a large Cairngorm crystal he and Jack Cunningham had found in the hills. To this day it is in my Sporran, mounted in silver. I had the privalidge to meet Roy at Ben’s funeral. People who he had never heard in live, sang with such gusto, he would have heard in heavon.

    Liked by 1 person

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