I hope to make use of the good forecast today and despite it being a Bank Holiday get away reasonably early to Glen Roy near Roy Bridge and climb two Corbett’s. It will be easy to remember the names Carn Dearg and Carn Dearg, I hope it will be quite I am sure it will be, these are not usually busy hills.
Last time I was on these hills in winter we were blown off the summit, it was winter in the mid March 97s and our annual winter course had just finished, This is a hard 2 week period where newer members of the RAF Mountain Rescue are trained in all aspects of winter mountaineering. It is a hard two weeks with only 1 day off, you are exhausted after it. We went out regardless of the weather as for many of the newer team members this will be the weather they would operate in on call – outs. The weather was especially wild this winter and big winds and white out were forecast daily. I wanted an easier day and a few Corbett’s would be fine in Glen Roy. A good navigational area and a relief from carrying climbing gear and it was back to work next day. It was to be an easy day with some young team members. Or so I thought?
Most of the Team were at Roybridge Village Hall and were taking it easy but one group went to Creag Meaghaidh for a look. Glen Roy though sheltered was still wild and the land rover rocked in the wind when we arrived and though our Corbett was small by Munro comparison we got battered constantly by the wind. It was a crawl to a summit and a great battle to keep the hill party together and it was getting worse by the minute, this was a serious as you get. After 4 hours on the hill we were exhausted when we arrived back at the wagon. The newer members of our group were impressed and frightened by the force of nature. They had to experience such conditions such is our job and you have to train in it but it took all my experience to get them off the hill, it was a very close call at times. I was sure there would be call outs today. There was no shelter on our hill and even at just over 2500 feet we were really struggling! When we got back down and back to Roy Bridge Village Hall most of the team were back few had ventured out and after a bowl of soup I asked if anyone had heard of the party out on Creag Meaghaidh, there had been no communications all day.
I took a wagon as it was nearly 1600 to try to get a radio message to them and their wagon was the only one in the car park. I then got a message by mobile phone that one of the group had been blown over the edge on the summit plateau and the other two were now in hurricane conditions. It was the leader that had been blown over a cornice and these were two relatively new troops out now fighting for their lives. The helicopter had been called from RAF Leuchars in my mind I thought what could it do in these conditions. We called the Police Lochaber MR and RAF Leuchars and they were on their way?
Our two strongest mountaineers Dan and Rusty were now heading up the hill to see what they could do. It was getting worse by the minute and then we heard that another group out waking had been blown off the neighboring Beinn Chaorainn, I was told to stay and brief the teams and Police as they arrived. Crazy thoughts were going through my mind?
To be continued