John Coull – Mountaineer,Sailor, Arctic  Explorer and lover of Adventure.

Details of – JC Coull Funeral service to be held Friday 16th June at 14:30 Moray Crematorium, Broadly, by Buckie, AB56 5HQ.
At my dad’s request please wear something bright or tartan.

Then onto a celebration of John’s life at Laichmoray Hotel, Elgin, IV30 1QR. Tel. 01343 540045
Mention John Coull and discounted rooms should be available if you wish to stay.

For troops attending JC’s funeral please you bring ice axe for the Guard of Honour. In addition to the tartan or bright colours, MR or mountaineering attire would be good. John wanted his funeral different. There will be a pin board available to display any photos you bring along, make sure you put your name on the them. Any stories on JC and we know there are hundreds would be appreciated at the wake by the family and I’m sure the rest of us.
For all those participating in John’s Guard of Honour, and all welcome, we need to be in position by 1350. Please pass the message on. Service will commence at 1430.



John was a very senior member of the RAF Mountain Rescue  for over nearly 37  years ! I first met him when he was on the Viscount Crash on Ben More and also on his Team Leaders Course at Kinloss in 1973 when  he was the youngest ever to do it and was living in the baggage room on our old block, these were different days!  John took time to chat to me a novice in my first year in the Team a thing he was to do for all his time with us. He was already an accomplished Alpinist and with Bill Skelson from Leuchars and they had done some great routes in the late 60’s and 70’s! He was a key man in all the RAF Mountain Rescue teams and served with St Athans, Leuchars and Kinloss and he was with A huge help to me at many times as the Team Leader at RAF Kinloss.

He was great lover of the Arctic and was a proficient skier and did several expedition to the Arctic exploring  South Georgia  just before the Argentine invasion a tale on its own. These are wild places, these are the tales of wild weather, arctic storms and exploration.  I for one will never forget our boat trips and sailing round Scotland and to the Islands in “Daz boat”are with me forever!

The wild winch onto Rockall with JC we set up the belays on the small rock after a wild winch with huge helicopter downdraft.


Our trip to Rockall in 1982 was a wild occasion with the winch from a helicopter onto a tiny rock with massive downdraft as was the 3 days in Stornaway. We also had so many visits to Rum and the many parties on the Kinloch Castle in Rum one after a night sail on Night Vision Goggles (NVG) after a lightning storm.

On that trip we were seeing whales by moonlight  and on other trips the many secret harbours JC new to spend the night on.  John was a man of huge ability and awareness of the advances with technology GPS in Mountaineering and the sea and he brought many new skills to us all. He was aware of the frailties of life after many years battling cancer. We had  so many trips and fun all over Scotland especially the Islands that were a place he ❤️ and we had so many laughs.

In the Mountain Rescue Team John was an exceptional man always dependable and we did so many call – outs together he was always there and available for any task. We also did many aircraft crashes sadly and this was where he was invaluable not just as a Mountain Rescue Troop but as an aircraft engineer whre his technical knowledge was invaluable for the crash maps and Investigation by the AIB.   John worked on the Nimrod Line where he was a hugely respected and  much loved Crew  Chief and went all over the World on trips with the Nimrod and was a “well kent” face by all at RAF Kinloss.

We even worked at the ARCC together at RAF Kinloss and we had a great time doing a job that involved helping others. He introduced so many to adventure over the years and was so well loved by all especially the new younger troops on the Teams  at work to the sea the mountains and the wild places!

After he retired he and his van were all over Scotland at Festivals and you could bump into him on the many Islands he loved. He lived for every day.
Sadly John was. taken far to soon by the curse of cancer!  He knew he was very ill and  wanted privacy and did it his own way at the end with a few trusted pals and only his family knowing.

John planning, he was meticulous in this on one of his many sailing trips .

RIP Captain John Coull ! A true troop, gentleman, explorer, sailor,mountaineer ,mentor to many and he knew how to enjoy life.
My condolences to  John and the family !

Fun times at Kinloch castle in Rum.

Please if you feel like it  add to this  story by commenting on John’s life  Please do he introduced so many to the mountains and seas gave so many an insight into another World.

A last view at Knoydart from a trip  to Knoydart with the man JC .


From Chalkie White in Canada  – Jan 1980 – A day out on Liathach.  with John Coull ( JC)

It was ‘too early o clock’ in Kinlochewe when the cook woke me on a cold winter morning, I had a groggy head following a short ‘Toucan Club’ meeting the previous evening and was the designated Wireless Operator (WOP) for the weekend as our Permie WOP was on leave, or missing, or in love, perhaps all three.


“Edinburgh Rescue this is Alpine 23”, silence, a few more attempts ended in failure. It was time for the back up, a bright red phone box where the local operator was happy to chat for five minutes before connecting me to Pitreavie Castle, reverse charge of course. The weather was normal for the season though to this day I never quite understood the comment of ‘visibility good except in hill fog patches’.


After a nice ‘hearty’ breakfast we were ready to go. John Coull, Kas Taylor, Jon Beattie and myself. The plan was to head off round to the corries on the north side of the gargantuan Liathach and, in Kas’s words, “have a look”. We arrived at the LWB Landrover to find a flat tyre which was quickly changed. All aboard and the Rover turned over but wouldn’t start. “This is an omen” said JC, “Bit of a snag” said Kas. Within minutes the combined skills of Kilo Two had resolved the problem and we were on the road. We safely arrived at the parking spot close to the Ling hut and headed off, complete with basic winter climbing gear and ropes.


We arrived in Coire na Caime and followed Kas up to a deep gully on the Eastern side. After a short discussion it was decided, that no ropes were needed as it looked about Grade 1 and seemingly only a couple of hundred feet from the ridge. Kas led up the gully and as the gully steepened he found a horizontal ledge on the left wall that led to a subsidiary gully. As Kas established himself in, what we thought was, the final pitch JC followed. Jon Beattie and I were on the ledge about to step into the final gully when there was an acoustic thump, this was followed by the final gully spewing a huge white column of snow into the wall opposite us. When it finished Jon looked around the corner up the gully to find only Kas visible. No one saw JC disappear but he wasn’t with us anymore, and there was a pile of avalanche debris in the gully below us. We traversed back into the gully and down climbed to the debris. Not a sign of life here. Jon stayed at the debris while I climbed down to the foot of the gully and, with trepidation, peered around the vertical wall of the entrance to the gully. To my relief there was a figure about five hundred feet down the slope, waving. We all made our way down to JC who was understandably shaking but intact. His first words were, “roll us a fag”, odd coming from someone who rarely smoked! We estimated he went seven hundred feet from the final gully, including a twenty foot freefall, to where he stopped. The only visible injury was a huge bruise the size of a dinner plate on his side. On that day we were incredibly lucky especially John. Omens eh!


I last saw JC at the RAFMR 70th, he was as always, the gentleman. He led an incredible life of adventure. Thanks for the times shared with us. RIP JC.

JC – Don Shanks Hi, Like you I have fond memories of a JC/MR yacht charter trip, we picked the boat up in Oban and sailed for the Western Isles which JC loved and after a few jars in the Politician on Eriskay we staggered back to the sound of corncrakes to the boat. We then went up the islands and then crossed the Minch to Canna, the beach BBQ got shelved due to the weather but the craik was still good.

JC then took us into the North channel (very narrow) above Eilann Shona where we had a good ceilidh with a chap who taught the SBS sea kayaking, JC was always up for a Ceilidh as may will testify. Then it was down to Isle Ornsey and through the narrows for a overnight in Plockton before turning the boat over to the next crew. JC was always a very capable skipper whether it be on a yacht or a RIB and always made sure his crew got full enjoyment from the trips he organised.

Ian Gosling –  Gutted by this news, John was an absolute star, he didn’t have a bad word to say about anyone. I knew John from my MU days and he was a well respected Crew Chief on the ‘Kipper Fleet’. My thoughts and condolences go out to his family. Rest in peace JC….. Respect 😔🙏

Gerry Taylor ARCC – Gerry Taylor Sad news indeed, a real privilege to have known him as a friend and trusted colleague. RIP JC 😦

Martin Twigg – Martin Twigg Thorough nice man always enjoyed time on the hill with him.

James Allen –  Sad news. I remember a boat trip all the way along a big Loch to get myself, Mick Morris and another to an otherwise inaccessible remote location. Great man.

Alan Coleman -m R I P

Ken Weatherstone  – Very sad. I tried to join Kinloss Team in 1976 and was accepted by the team but turned down by the flight commander as the other sootie on our team in NMSU was JC. Eventually got to spend many good times on the hill with him.


Ivor Smith –  Very sad. Great memories of JC both as a troop and a tech on the line.

Pete Caulton -Pete Caulton Sad news. RIP John

Mark Falcus – Mark Falcus I can’t believe it, he was such a nice bloke, mentored me in my early days of MR, so many memories. Was in his party for one of my first callouts in Glencoe and we found the casualty. RIP mate.

Douglas Coombes – Sad news indeed the lossie team is over on Arran on a call out when we heard the news . I have good memories in the boat cruising aroind Arran with JC at the helm

Peter Mitchell –  Great all rounder and will be sadly missed by all that knew him. Ever the optimist and that smile will alway be in my fondest memory of him. I think he was never one to let an opportunity pass him by and was always up for a new adventure. I bumped into…See More

Fergie Cliff the Falklands –  Very sad news RIP JC

Chris Fawcett –  Really sad to hear. Remember having a drink with him to celebrate his last Corbett with his family.

Neil M Baillie – So sad to hear. RIP John.

Frank MacKenzie –  Very sad, JC you were one of the best

John Sullivan  – Sad to hear this, but thank you for posting Heavy. JC was always such a gentleman – but with a wicked sense of humour. Always a pleasure to be on the hill with him – and he always cracked me up with the different gambits he would produce to be the fir…See More


Mark Hitchings I,m so sorry to hear that bad news! RIP JC

Gareth Gaffa Williams –  Very sad news RIP JC

Auld Man · Friends with Graham Topping – RIP John

Mick Townshend –  Very sad news. A true Gent.

Roddy Russell  -So very sad. Rest in peace JC.

Adrian Marsay  – Sad times all my condolences to his family.

Gareth Williams · Friends with John Sullivan


David J Morrison –  So sad to hear of Johns passing. He was such a great guy, always had time for everyone. …See More

Mel Keenan  – Rest In Peace.

Adrian Osborne – A fine gentleman.

Glynne Gianelli – Glynne Gianelli Farewell JC, a true gentleman and Star Troop. I can still taste the sea trout he caught and cooked off the Isle of Harris.

Andrew Woolston – Andrew Woolston RIP JC.

Ray Smith · Met John during the MRT on Rockall task pictured here. Very professional and a great guy to have a beer with afterwards..

John David Jones –  very sad news another loss to the Leuchars MRT ..condolences to family and friends RIP JC Yanto

Susan Fleming · Friends with Graham Topping – RIP John

Andrew Bailie Very sad news. I went on the hill a couple of times with him during my short periods at Kinloss. A guy whose company I would enjoy at any time on or off the hill.

Pete Conway · Just seen this very sorry to hear the news. RIP john.

Jim King · Friends with Barbara Kizewski and 3 others

A true mate. RIP John

Kim Ash  – Very sad news. It hasn’t sunk in yet! RIP JC. Mountaineer, sailor, explorer, friend.

Ian Morrell · Sad news indeed. Use to let me spend a good half hour convincing him that it wasn’t a good day for walking. Just as I thought I done enough, off we’d go! RIP JC

Chris Jarret · RIP JC.😥

Kenny Tait RIP John a great leader and true gentleman.

Peter Birtwistle Sad to hear the news about JC. RIP

Brian Carr Great man, sadly missed.

Michael Gibson –  Very sad to hear this, had some great times with JC, whether it was a drive across west, a dash round the Firth in a boat or a ‘wee stroll’ it was always entertaining, motivating and most of all fun.

Mark Lean – RIP JC. A real gent.

Bill Skleson – A sad lose Heavy. A great climbing partner, all round good egg and snappy dresser! JC, full of fun, laughs & serious committment.
He & I had some great times in the Alps. Storm bound on Dom de Gouter, after doing N West Face of Aig de Bionassey, we dug a snow hole and spent 2 nights at 4200M.
Another time, 2 nights on Frendo Spur after taking a very direct route. The last bivvi was on a small ledge above the famous Ice Areté, with the lights of Chamonix some 10000ft directly below us.
Yes we had some magic times. I knew JC was ill, we compared chemo notes, and tried to keep each other up and positive. He still managed to get to his music festivals, do his land yatching and in winter some ski touring.
I will miss the texts we use to send each other – “Chatski?” The prelude to a good hr long phone chat.
Rest in Peace John, a great bloke and wonderful mate.

Pete Kirkpatrick – We have many regrets in life and one that has just become apparent to me is that I knew of JC but never spent any time with him. MR is and was full of great people, so I guess I am blessed with meeting many but not all.

Ian Meredith Sadly I cannot attend. JC was a gentleman. He had great patience with new troops and a wealth of experience to pass on. My thoughts are with his family and friends tomorrow.

Brian Carr It is not possible for Nikki and I to attend JC’s farewell, he was a great inspiration to everyone who met him! He is sadly missed. Be assured our thoughts are with you all on a very sad day

Jennifer Singleton John Coull an amazing inspiration in life. The boat, the mountains and the fun – JC had a handle on all of it and helped so many of us experience so much more of those elements in our lives. RIP the great JC, love Jenny x

Suzanne Cliff Can’t get back for this, sadly, but I’ll wear some tartan in the Falkland Islands to remember a lovely man

Chris Fisher · Very sad news. As you said Heavy, John always had time for novice troops and his enthusiasm was inspirational!

Bob Knapper  – RIP John I have some great memories of the early seventies in the Leuchars team.

Simon Brill  – RIP JC. A true gentleman and troop, sadly missed.

Rod Stoddart  – Really sorry to hear that years ago me and John came across baby golden eagle just finished eating the rest of whatever it had killed we were only feet from it a day out with RAF kinloss mountain Rescue just me and John will never forget it or John Rip

Ian Lawrence  – John, Kevin Landry and I all joined MR together, Taff wondered what he was getting – I think he though because we were Halton brats we wouldn’t last the course – JC certainly proved him wrong!!

Mark Hartre 2ba –  Please pass on our best thoughts to JCs family. We can’t be there but Lauryn and Finlay remember him for his enthusiasm and shoulder rides when jumping around at a Vatersay Boys gig during the Tall Ships visit to Ullapool a few years ago. A great night and JC was such fun. My memories in other MR antics he always seemed the wise man with a smile. Cheers 2ba ps please add to blog Heavy.

JC Coull Funeral service to be held Friday 16th June at 14:30 Moray Crematorium, Broadly, by Buckie, AB56 5HQ.
At my dad’s request please wear something bright or tartan.

Then onto a celebration of John’s life at Laichmoray Hotel, Elgin, IV30 1QR. Tel. 01343 540045
Mention John Coull and discounted rooms should be available if you wish to stay.

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 Articles, Friends, Mountain rescue, Mountaineering, People, Sailing trips, SAR, Scottish winter climbing.. Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to John Coull – Mountaineer,Sailor, Arctic  Explorer and lover of Adventure.

  1. hamish says:

    Hamish Mackay~ Always a sad loss when someone as Iconic as JC is taken away from us, suffice to say his memories will be with us forever~ those moments we cherish~take the positive from the negative and celebrate his life. Hope to pop along~ Hamish

    Liked by 1 person

  2. John Chapman says:

    Always a wry knowing smile when the troops were up to something. Sad to hear and will remember him with fond memories. Sail away JC.


  3. Iain Macpherson says:

    I’m completely lost for words when I read about the passing of JC. I’ve so many fond memories of the times we had both had on the hill & the Das Boat.
    He certainly kept his illness close to his heart as we frequently bumped into each other; in ASDA of all places.
    Absolutely Gutted, a True Gentleman to the end. RIP JC.


  4. Wee Ruth says:

    Hello Heavy – hope you don’t mind my writing. I knew John from our time at NMSU. It seems so unfair that JC had to leave this life before his time but in that brief span, John showed us how life should be lived.
    In the words of the folk song:
    “I’ve travell’d this wide world all over,
    And now to another I go.
    I know that good quarters are waiting,
    For to welcome our Rosin the beau.”
    The same is true of John Coull – Top Man.


  5. Tom Norcross says:

    I was with John Coull on the 1977 Joint Services Expedition to East Greenland. Together with Bob Burton, JC and myself were involved in an Arctic Char fishing Project. Towards the end of the three month expedition, I was co-opted to join the Mountaineering group, led by Steve Williams. The other members were Frazer Haddow and JC. Steve Williams had arranged with the Danish government naming agency the find an unclimbed peak in East Greenland and name it “Jubilee Peak” in honour of Queen Elizabeth’s Jubilee year (1977).
    After a series of successful ascents of various mountains in Liverpool land, the mountaineering group were disappointed to find that they had all been climbed before by other mountaineers, who left evidence of their success. Hoping for a change of luck, I was invited to join the Group. The four of us were storm bound for two days in a two man tent on the lateral moraine of a glacier. Hope was nearly abandoned, but on the third day, in the evening, the weather improved and we made haste to find an unnamed peak. The climb was easy and I was nominated to be the first to reach the top for no other reason that I might bring better luck to the Group. That proved to be the case and I had the privilege of reaching the top of a hitherto unclimbed peak. A cairn and message were hastily left to record the Group’s achievement. The Danish Committee duly accepted the claim by Steve Williams.
    I last travelled with JC to Oslo for theAmundsen Commeration weekend where Bob Burton was giving a presentation on South Georgia. I knew JC had cancer and the prognosis was unfavourable. jC bore his affliction stoically and enjoyed the weekend fully. Sadly, within a few months, the grim reaper took him.

    Liked by 1 person

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