More on South Georgia – Dave Nichols RIP – Mad Ratters Tea Party Helicopters: like flying on Harry Potters broomstick…but with a little plastic windscreen.

Whilst doing some research on South Georgia I found out the Dave Nichols had died in 2006. Dave was a Marine and a world-famous mountaineer he ended up a Brigadier, he climbed with John Barry and is well mentioned in his great book “The Great Climbing Adventure”   He was a lover of the Falklands and South Georgia. Dave had founded the South Georgia Heritage Trust, and raised funds for Norwegian volunteers to renovate the historically important manager’s house at the Husvik whaling station, which scientists and expeditions now use as a base. In July he took responsibility for the South Georgia museum and the Discovery House visitor centre on South Georgia. His most ambitious project was the extermination of rats on the archipelago in order to allow threatened bird species to breed again.

One of the best books I have ever read!

One of the best books I have ever read!

22 Jul 2006 –  Brigadier David Nicholls, who has died aged 57, combined a 30-year career in the Royal Marines with being the leading military mountaineer of his generation.

His final Royal Marines appointment was in 1999 as Commander, British Forces, Falkland Islands, where the Mount Pleasant base has the world’s longest corridor linking accommodation and working areas. This half-mile passage was known to his troops as “Death Star Corridor” until Nicholls called in a family friend, the artist Professor Elaine Shemilt who, with colleagues and students from Dundee University, turned it into an attractive, warm thoroughfare now known as the Millennium Corridor. Subsequently Nicholls organised an exhibition at the Imperial War Museum, “Traces of Conflict”, about the group’s visit to the Falklands some 20 years after the war. Dave was the big Boss when I was in the Falklands and we met when he was doing an inspection of the Ration Depot where I was working. He recognised me and we had a great chat mainly about Al MacLeod my friend who he had climbed with on Everest.

This is from the Telegraph obituary. Nicholls’s love of mountaineering began at school, where he founded a climbing club; he climbed in New Zealand, the Himalayas, the Alps and Dolomites, making many first ascents and becoming an expert in mountain and Arctic warfare. He failed in an attempt on the summit of Everest in 1988 because of worsening weather. The line f following the ridge to the Summit rather than veering on the North Face line of Tom Hornbein and William Unsoeld has proved to be deadly on Everest. Dave and my great friend Al Mac Leod had climbed the Hornbein Couloir and were heading for the summit when the weather came in. They both descended and the chance was lost for that year.  It was such a shame as it would have been a wonderful achievement at the time. Al really rated Dave and though Al was a very lowly rank and age at 23  in The RAF they made an impressive pair, Dave was a  Captain at the time.  This was fairly unusual for the military in these days as a lot of the expeditions had a lot more  officers pro ratio! Al died the following year on the North Face of the Matterhorn what a talent and great friend lost. It was Al who sowed the seed of our Everest Expedition & said we could climb it as a purely RAF Mountain Rescue Trip. How right he proved to be.

The power of the Internet is incredible whilst researching for the South Georgia piece I found that one of the great men of the SAR world George  Phillips who flew Wessexs helicopters from RAF Leuchars when I was Team leader in the late 1980. George is just back from South Georgia, the troops called him “Gorgeous George” and he and his crew flew us all over the place. He and the Sqn were incredible guys, we landed on the skye ridge, picked up from the Shelterstone and skied on the Ben A Bhuird plateau all by Wessex.  On rescues they were incredible  and we really were a powerful team together as is today. George was in a band of a select few who were incredible fliers and such great people, the whole team were superb, these were incredible days . It was great to see he has a blog and has been out in South Georgia flying   as part of the team trying to stop the rat invasion. I mentioned this yesterday that Dave Nichols had helped push the funding for this and get South Georgia back to what it was before man trashed it. To me it is incredible is that, two amazing people are linked by Ian Sykes book. This has been a walk down memory lane, you do not meet people like Dave, Al & George  often – Georges blog was powerful and what a read it starts with these words.

George Phillips in South Georgia - known to all as "Gorgeous George" Photo George Phillips collection.

George Phillips in South Georgia – known to all as “Gorgeous George” Photo George Phillips collection.

“I’m getting quite excited with the prospect of travelling to one of the most remote, beautiful and wild islands on the Earth, to help turn back the clock on the “Rat Invasion” on South Georgia.”

YOU HAVE TO READ IT! I so enjoyed this blog it took me to another world in amongst it all this paragraph showed the immensity of this incredible wilderness.

” Charles Dickens wrote when he visited the magnificent Glencoe in Scotland that it was akin to stepping into ‘the height and madness of fever’. I can tell you with that thought in mind that being in South Georgia is like visiting a whole kingdom of Glencoe s at once”  George Phillips South Georgia 2013!

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 Books, Equipment, Falklands Islands, Friends, Gear, Mountaineering, Recomended books and Guides, SAR, Wildlife. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to More on South Georgia – Dave Nichols RIP – Mad Ratters Tea Party Helicopters: like flying on Harry Potters broomstick…but with a little plastic windscreen.

  1. Stephan says:

    David Nicholls RIP. Was my ucle. A brilliant, dedicated and beautiful man. Have always looked up to him. An asset and comfort to those around him and sorely lost. Never met a better chap.

    Liked by 1 person

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