In the Shadow of Ben Nevis – Spike Sykes Presentation on the book in Watersons Book shop in the Eastgate in Inverness at 18.30 on Thursday 21st April.

Spike – In the Shadow of Ben Nevis –  a great read. I have been lucky to meet Spike on many occasions and even gave him some information for his book – yet no copy for me? He has always been a man like I admire along with many involved in Mountain Rescue throughout UK. I met him on many call – outs he was one of the “Lochaber Gods” and I was a bairn but RAF MR gave him like me a sound apprenticeship.


I love the tales of the  epics on the “Big Bad Ben” and the other stories of the wee shop in Fort William “Nevisport” and the trails and tribulation of being a business man on the West Coast.  The great Ski Adventure on Aonach Mor a huge challenge and undertaking.  The success and hard times and add to that a love of mountaineering that is still on going. I know many of the characters involved and maybe that is what I enjoy about the book and it tells a history of just a few call – outs in the past.

Spike Abseil

Spike Abseil 

These were the days before the huge media interest, Facebook and the internet, the big lowers on the Ben and other cliffs and a short insight into many of the characters of Lochaber.  Many of the characters are still going and Lochaber has much to thank Spike for. This is a great book and I recommend it, a glimpse at a Golden Age and some insight into these incredible people.


In 1959, sixteen-year-old Ian Spike Sykes left school and, after a short period of work at Leeds University, joined the RAF. Already a keen climber, he signed up on the promise of excitement and adventure and was posted to the remote RAF Kinloss Mountain Rescue Team in the north of Scotland. It was the beginning of a journey which would see him involved in some of the most legendary call-outs in Scottish mountain rescue history, including the 1963 New Year tragedy on the Isle of Skye.

In the Shadow of Ben Nevis tells Spike s story from growing up in Leeds in the aftermath of the Second World War, to his time with the RAF during the cold war. After leaving the RAF, he remained an active member of the Lochaber Mountain Rescue Team and was involved in the first lower down the north face of Ben Nevis an epic 1,500-foot descent to rescue stricken climbers in the middle of winter.</>

Following a two-and-a-half-year stint on Antarctica with the British Antarctic Survey, he returned to the Highlands and opened the first Nevisport shop with his close friend Ian Suds Sutherland. Together, they brought Sunday trading to Fort William and were one of a small number of shops to revolutionise outdoor retail in the UK. Later, he was a key player in the development of the Nevis Range ski area. Over many years, and against all odds, the project became a reality and a great success.

Recounted within these pages are a great many lively tales of adventures and mishaps, told with immediacy and charm. With a foreword by legendary Scottish mountaineer Hamish MacInnes, a close friend of Spike s, In the Shadow of Ben Nevis is a must-read for anyone with an interest in Scottish mountaineering and mountain rescue.


ISBN:978-1-898573-98-2  Author: Ian Sykes Format: Paperback Publication:

15 Feb 2016 Paperback £12.99

01/09/72 Ben Nevis

Tower Ridge

One of the call – outs in the book – Lochaber MRT & RAF Kinloss MRT  – 3 Royal Navy climbers, fell from Tower ridge had a small dog with them in rucksack – 3 fatal. John Hinde, Heavy, Bugsy climbed the ridge after call – out. A sad introduction to Ben Nevis for me as a 19-year-old. Heavy.





He is giving a presentation on the book in Watersons Book shop in the Eastgate in Inverness at 18.30 on Thursday 21st April.

Maybe you would like to attend?



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

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