Scottish Mountain Rescue the early days.

Early days at the CIC Hut  - before Mountain Rescue.

Early days at the CIC Hut – before Mountain Rescue. Casualty being carried off the hill. A bit different than today

When a climber or walker fell in the 30’s their was little that could be done and any assistance  was carried out by fellow climbers and walkers with great help from local Police ,Gillies, Keepers and locals.  We take so much for granted nowadays with Mountain Rescue such an incredible service, If we have an accident on the hill we get rescued quickly but all this did not come easily. Rescues in the past were done by whoever was  available and at times the Scottish Mountaineering Club were called from Glasgow and Edinburgh to assist in Glencoe and other areas. As mountaineering became more popular there was a rise in accidents and Rescue post were set up in many of the climbing areas. In the 1943 The RAF Mountain Rescue Service was formed and made a huge impact in Mountain Rescue after the War. It must be remembered that the Police were the ones climbers came to after an accident and it is the Police responsibility for Land Rescue. The early days of rescue have tales of very basic gear, long carry- off’s and steep learning curbs for all both the rescuers and the casualties. The following is extracts from a few  Committee Meetings where they set up the start of the system we have today.

1928 Larig Gru Search - everyone helped in these days!

1928 Larig Gru Search – everyone helped in these days! Basic gear in mid winter – we follow in the footsteps of heroes. Photo Ray Sefton 

1951 – First Aid Committee, Convener’s Report. – The First Aid Committee met in January and decided that the Convener should prepare each year a list of Scottish hill accidents. (This is published in the SMC Journal.) It was decided to install First Aid Posts in Glen Clova and Lagangarbh (in that order). It should be pointed out to the Mountain Rescue Committee that no rescue equipment existed north of the Great Glen on the mainland. The Convener was asked to approach Colonel Arthur and discuss the generous offer of assistance from the Scottish Branch of the British Red Cross Society.


Report from Convener of First-aid Committee 1946 . With the equipping of a Stretcher Post at Brodick, Arran (at the Police Station), under the supervision of the Lomond Mountaineering Club, the number of fully equipped Posts in Scotland becomes twelve. Complete details of these, and Stretcher Posts in England and Wales, with advice regarding accidents, of which every climber should avail himself, are obtainable in a reprint from Barford’s “Climbing in Britain,” at a cost of 3d. each, plus postage. One of the rucksacks, but not the contents, used on Bidean nam Bian during a rescue in December 1946 was lost in wind and darkness. If it should be discovered it should be returned to Clachaig Inn. The First-aid Committee of Mountaineering Clubs, on which we are represented by DrG. G. Macphee, has changed its name to the Mountain Rescue Committee of Great Britain.The B.B.C. have been good enough to co-operate with us in our attempts to reduce the number of accidents on the hills. Not only did they allow the Hon. President to give a warning talk at Easter, but they incorporated warning passages in the script of a series of dramatic broadcasts arranged by Mr Borthwick. It was agreed to apply to First Aid Committee with a view to establishing a stretcher post at Altnafeadh, Glencoe. 1946 – First Aid Committee’s Report. – Co-operation continues between the SMC and the Mountain Rescue Committee. The Club is contributing £5. 5s. annually until further notice to the Mountain Rescue Committee, and has agreed that its first-aid equipment be vested in the same body. The Scottish Committee of the British Red Cross Society has offered, subject to revision and limited to a generous total expenditure, to restock our First Aid Posts.

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 Equipment, Mountain rescue, SMC/SMT, Views Mountaineering. Bookmark the permalink.

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