I learnt about climbing from that? – and Royal Naval Station Fulmar – ( Lossiemouth) Mountain Rescue Team )

RAF Kinloss MRT 1972.

RAF Kinloss MRT 1972.

I learnt about Mountaineering from that?

I was reminded of a project I was going to do about learning from other mistakes in the mountains and going public with them. In my days as a Mountain Rescue Team Leader we had a few near misses, Most were simple mistakes that could have lead to a major problem. I used to phone my opposite number in the RAF at Luechars MRT and tell them as if we made that mistake there was a good chance there team may do the same.   I wonder if anyone wishes to pass on a story so we can all learn from it? Any takers?

Here goes I learnt about Mountaineering from that? No 1

I was scrambling on Skye this summer it was the warmest day I have ever been out in on Skye. We left at 0500 to stay out of the heat. We were with 6 friends one who was completing his Munros he had two left to complete. The plan was to stay at the wonderful Coruisk Bothy overnight travel in by boat and climb the Dubh Ridge a classic scramble and one of Scotland’s finest climbs. The weather was magnificent as you can see in the photo below and we had such a great time.

Great day in Skye nearly ruined - Wear a helmet!

Great day in Skye nearly ruined – Wear a helmet!

It all went well and we were nearly up the climb when two of the boys ahead knocked a rock off. I was about 20 feet behind them and it just missed me ( my head)  and my stepson  who was a bout 10 metres below me and hit another of our party below. The rock was fairly big and hit him  straight on the forehead. I feared for the worst as my mate was not wearing a helmet. Ray got over to him and lucky he is hard as nails and though severely shaken ( he wanted to go on) he was still speaking. He was on his knees on the ledge and was bleeding from his head, he had a black eye and heavy bruising within a minute. He was  very lucky that he was on a big ledge when  it hit him and if it had hit myself or Stephen we would have been very seriously injured even killed. We would have fallen some distance. In the end 3 of us went down as we worried about out injured mate as a head injury is very serious. Concussion was always possible but in the end he was okay a massive bruise but nothing else. That day how daft it was I had a helmet in my bag as did Stephen and my friend had no helmet with him. I never wore my helmet due to the heat as did Stephen how stupid we were. We were so lucky a great day was nearly a very sad day for all. I bought a lighter helmet for the summer use. The boys continued and completed their last Munro, they had helmets on all day! As I walked my mate off I thanked the lord that it was only the day that was cut short, not someones life! Another of the 9 lives left.

Coruisk a wonderful place on Skye.

Coruisk a wonderful place on Skye.

The lesson learned was simple:  Wear a helmet whenever the chance of stones from above no matter how component  you think you and your mates are!  Skye, scrambling helmet – simple!

Please send me your story and we can all learn from it.

Another Question? Does anyone have information about a Naval Mountain Rescue Team at Lossiemouth ( Fulmar)

I know that the end of the hostilities in 1945 the RAF Station  at Lossiemouth became a satellite unit of Milltown in Coastal Command, before being handed over to the Fleet Air Arm in 1946 and becoming HMS FULMAR, RNAS Lossiemouth. The Fleet Air Arm used Lossiemouth as a training station with pilots receiving their basic training here before moving to Culdrose for instrument training. The final stage of training, (deck-landing) was practised at Milltown, before students were allowed to land on HMS Theseus in the Moray Firth.

The Fleet Air Arm handed the Station back to the Royal Air Force on 28 September 1972 and ‘D’ Flight, 202 Squadron, the Helicopter Search and Rescue Flight, was the first RAF unit to return.

I was with the RAF Kinloss MRT in 1972 and I am sure that the Royal Navy had a small Mountain Rescue Team at Fulmar ( Lossiemouth) can anyone shine a light on this please? I would appreciate this information?

Am I correct?

Mountain Safety Chat – tonight in Aviemore!

Wednesday 19th February – Mountain Café, Aviemore with Heavy Whalley 20.00 Lecture sponsored by The Munro Society.  Free entry.  Meals may be booked for 19.00 £10 per head.  Contact the Mountain Café direct on 01479 812473

Places should be booked in advance for all the talks as demand is expected to be high. I am sure if the meals are already booked there will be no problem getting in to the chat come about 1930 ish

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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.
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10 Responses to I learnt about climbing from that? – and Royal Naval Station Fulmar – ( Lossiemouth) Mountain Rescue Team )

  1. KragRags says:

    Good article and an excellent idea to make us all think and learn from our own and others mistakes.

    A few years ago, having abseiled from an ice climb on the Aiguille du Midi, I was struck by a half-brick sized rock, dislodged by the ropes some 100 feet above me, as another climber descended.

    I had just come off the ends of the abseil ropes and was looking down whilst driving the spike of an axe into the steep snow slope, as I traversed to safer ground. The dislodged rock ricocheted down the couloir and struck me on the back of the head/neck.

    The helmet and rolled up, wired hood of my jacket, saved me from serious injury. Had I not just placed the axe, I would have tumbled to the glacier below. As it was, I fell forwards onto the head of the axe, driving it deeper into the slope. I escaped with a cut lip and a nasty bump, followed by a banging headache for a week.

    That large, diamond shaped, chunk of granite sits on my desk as a reminder of how fortunate I was.

    Soon afterwards I wrote to the helmet manufacturer, to thank them for making such an effective product. It was an old school, solid shell, webbing cradle type, Camp High Star, which survived the incident with little more than a scuff. I should have replaced it after this impact but it stayed in service and protected my bonce from many other lesser projectiles before eventually being replaced.

    The argument for wearing a helmet in an alpine environment, (and in the context you describe, the Cuillin qualifies as alpine) is a no brainer – perhaps literally if you’re struck when not wearing a lid!

    It makes good sense to stop, well away from the base of steep ground and put helmets on. You are out of range of potential rock fall whilst gearing up and from this vantage point you can eat your sarnies, enjoy a better view of your intended route, alternatives and possible lines of descent.

    From my lucky escape on the Midi, I learned to:
    • move out of the line of fire as quickly as possible when completing an abseil
    • be very careful to avoid knocking rocks on people below
    • be wary of anyone moving above

    Enjoy living dangerously, wear a helmet and have fun.


  2. Colin says:

    Yes, there was a navy MRT at Lossie. My father was a member between ’65 and ’71 (I was around 6 when he was drafted away from Fulmar !) whilst with 800 sqn.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Don MacGregor says:

    I was team leader and founder of RNAS Lossiemouth MRT. We were never part of Kinloss MRT as a sub unit,but an individual unit often working with Kinloss. We were on the “Call-0ut” list and went independently to incidents. I was also on the Scottish Mountain Rescue Committee and occasional instructor at Glenmore Lodge.
    Don MacGregor

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you Don what Years was that in 1972 I am sure a few from Lossiemouth came out with us.

      The team is now back at RAF Lossiemouth as Kinloss has shut as a RAF Base.
      Thank you for your input.


      • Don MacGregor says:

        1972 sounds about right. You say the team is now back at Lossiemouth. They were NEVER at Lossiemouth. They have recently moved to Lossie from Kinloss where they had been for yonks!!. The RAF are still using Kinloss, despite the Royal Engineers being there, for their fighter squadrons while development work is ongoing at Lossie with contractors improving the runways. The Boeing Corporation are investing £m’s at Lossie with installations for the new LRMP aircraft due there soon. While I was at Lossie, John Hinde was Kinloss team leader, a thoroughly nice guy who tragically died while an instructor at the Loch Eil Centre at Corpach, Fort William. Ian Sykes was an RAF member I knew fairly well through days on the hill together. He is now an established figure in winter sports in Fort Bill. He was instrumental in the development of Anoch More and his string of sports shops. He gave a lecture on MRT at the Eden Court Theatre in Inverness which I sadly missed, being abroad at the time.
        Hope this info is of interest.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I was the Team Leader and was at Kinloss – and Leuchars spent 40 years in Mountain a Rescue. I know Ian well I was only saying that the team were back at at Lossiemouth now for your info.
        Thanks – John Hinds I knew well
        Take care.


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