Mountain Rescue – a few thoughts?

Yesterday I had been asked to go live on radio today on my views about the changes within Scottish Mountain Rescue. My blog had got a bit if attention in the media and from a few who commented on it and I suppose I had to do it. Late last night  there was a joint Statement issued by the the Vice Chair of Scottish Mountain Rescue and the spokesmen for the three teams Glencoe, Lochaber and Cairngorm. The statement is to the point and said despite of any differences the job of assisting those in trouble in the mountains and wild places  throughout Scotland will still be done. As the Statement  says “its business as usual”. I phoned the media in the morning  and said that the statement issued by the spokesmen in my mind says it all and we should leave it to the teams and the authorities to come up with any  solutions. The Statement is on yesterdays Blog.

“We must stress that no teams have actually “left” SMR and there is no “split”. GLC would still wish to be affiliated to SMR and will continue to support the wider mountain rescue community in whatever way they can. Where appropriate we believe that the current healthy exchange of skills to facilitate training and information exchanges within the organisation will continue irrespective of the outcome of current discussions.
So, if you are unfortunate enough to need to call on the services of a mountain rescue team anywhere in Scotland then don’t worry …. it’s very much business as normal and we will drop what we are doing, grab the packs and head out to help you! We would hope that we can be allowed to continue our work without the need to make further comment at this time.” From the statement.

I wish all the parties involved all the best for the future and agree there has to be changes.

I withdrew my offer to speak and left it to them.

We follow in the footsteps of giants

In my 40 years of Mountain Rescue there have been so many changes and today is sadly the Anniversary of the Wessex Crash on Ben More on Crainlarich which killed the Killin Mountain Rescue Team Leader Harry Lawrie.

1st February, 1987 was an almost spring like day and no-one would have anticipated the dark cloud that would fall on the team by nightfall.  Called in the afternoon to Balquhidder the team recovered the body of a climber who had collapsed near Inverlochlarig. The team was diverted to Ben More following a report of a climber having fallen on the snow covered top.   The team set out on the hill prior to a Wessex helicopter picking up two team members to assist them with a search of the hillside.   Unfortunately when attempting to land on the hillside the helicopter rotor struck a rock crashed into the hillside and slid down towards the team already on the hill.   Team members immediately entered the wreckage and assisted the occupants from the helicopter before it was engulfed in flames.  Unfortunately Team member Sergeant Harry Lawrie had been thrown from the aircraft sustaining fatal injury.  Team member Constable Ian Ramsay and the air crew seriously injured in the crash were treated on scene and evacuated in a second helicopter to hospital.   The job however was not finished and the team returned at first light to recover the body of the climber whose fall had instigated the incident.

This is what I wrote about it a few years ago:

Yesterday I received lots of interest on my blog on the Wessex Crash on Ben More 25 years ago today. As I said my thoughts are with the Killin Mountain Rescue Team as they recognise this sad anniversary with a walk up Ben Ledi where Harry’s Memorial is. Many of the people who called or emailed I have not heard for may years and is was wonderful to hear their thoughts even on such a sad occasion.  So I will spare a thought for Killin MRT and Harry’s family today. I feel it is important that these tragedies are not forgotten and that these stories and tales are  told. There are so many programmes on the television showing rescues, sometimes making it all look so easy. At times this is not the case and some things can go wrong especially in the mountains. We have a history of service in Mountain Rescue to be proud of. This is based on a wonderful heritage of police, keepers, shepherds, locals and climbers from the early days of mountaineering helping fellow mountaineers in trouble. Long may it continue.

The Killin Mrt has a good website and tells the tales of the early day ‘s in mountain rescue, well worth a look and a cause worth donating too. It has a great tales of  a rescue where the shepherds and team were in Ben Lui’s Central Gully, some with shepherds crooks, no ice axes or crampons. This was in winter, amazing stuff and Hamish Mc Innes advising them to get some crampons and axes! The team went to Glenmore Lodge for some training after that!

Harry mem

I hope today the weather holds for the walk up Ben Ledi and I am sure it will, we mountaineers can be so selfish and the mountains can become our mistress and our families suffer. Today is a day for Harry’s family who will be there along with the some of the Killin team. It will be a day of mixed emotions but a proud day of how a team coped with a terrible tragedy. Harry would be so happy of the legacy he has left with a strong capable team that have saved many lives. It is a huge part of the community not just in the mountains but in many other ways. The family will have so many friends with them today all thinking about them, they will not be alone.

Today give everyone a hug in memory of Harry.

Harry Lawrie Killin MRT. RIP.

Lest We forget.








Finally with so much  media interest and debate ensuing and it being played out in the open, now must be the time to take positive action to create a new future for the benefit of all.

Over to you

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 Alaska, Mountain rescue, Mountaineering, Views Mountaineering. Bookmark the permalink.

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