Call out on Ben Nevis in March 1990 and a great ending updated yesterday July 2017 .

There was a huge search in the mountains in the bad winter of 1990 one that kept the Mountain Rescue teams so busy, it was a sad time with many fatal accidents. As a Team Leader of RAF Kinloss Mountain Rescue Team we were asked after nearly 8 days of constant callouts to help Lochaber,Glencoe, the helicopters and SARDA in a search. A young 17-year-old had gone missing on Ben Nevis he was alone and not returned to the Youth Hostel.  This was a wild winter and all the teams were busy the pressure on volunteers that make the teams was huge we had gone from callout to callout and hardly been home that winter. This leaves huge pressure at home and work and when we were asked to help all the team had the chance to return home. All stayed, we were exhausted but a 17 year old missing was near to us all, many had children. Three days later after the worst weather the Ben could throw at us Gary was located barely alive by the teams. It was touch and go to get him off the hill and down to the helicopter that took him to the hospital, what a great story with a successful outcome. We heard that Gary had recovered in hospital in Fort William but nothing else. we went on to many other incidents sadly with not good outcomes.

When he was located I was helping with Co ordination in the Police Station in Fort William and the shouts of joy were heard on the Mountain Rescue radios that Gary was alive it was an emotional moment. Big burly Policemen and Mountain Rescue troops were overjoyed. My pal Pete Kirkpatrick who was the Team Leader of RAF Leuchars MRT has written a great account of the 3 days search and I was given permission to reproduce it in my wee  blog

It is called “Dead men don’t wave”…-must-come-first/ ‎

Nearly 30 years on I received this email yesterday I received this email

July 2017 – “Just seen this article, Gary is my brother and we will always be thankful for not giving up on him. To say it changed things in our lives is an understatement, I am a Mountain Rescue team member in my home town Gary was also a Team Member but had to leave for work commitments, he is now a father of 5 amazing children and has helped to save many lives in his job as a Charge nurse in an A&E Department, none of this would have happened without everyone out over that week.”

Rarely in those days 1990 did you get feedback on the Casualty as we were all worried about what Gary recovery would be like after 3 days and nights on Ben Nevis.  It was wonderful to get this news all those years on.  It makes it all worthwhile.

Gary Being located all those years ago after 3 days alone on Ben Nevis in winter.

Mountain Rescue is amazing and the effort by all the teams on these type of callouts is incredible. There is a toll though not only to the casualty but to our families who sit and worry at home. The teams  are unpaid volunteers and yet they can miss out on birthdays and family time yet when we recover someone like Gary it is an incredible feeling. Even nearly 30 years on to hear how well he is doing is heartwarming to say the least and makes the effort so worthwhile.

Please share this as all those involved the Police, Belford Hospital  the helicopters, the Glencoe, Lochaber, RAF Kinloss, RAF Leuchars Teams and SARDA that were involved may enjoy this update as much as I did.

This photo is when Gary was found a magic moment. When you find someone alive.

I spoke to a few of those in the teams involved all those years ago and all were so happy that Gary was doing well and had given so much back in the past 30 years. It does make a huge difference when the Agencies and teams involved hear such a great story especially after nearly 30 years. Finding someone after 3 days in winter is very rare and we all had a bounce in our steps for the rest of that winter.

I hope the Police, Belford Hospital, Lochaber, Glencoe and SARDA read this I will send a copy as all those years later I for one will never forget the tears of joy at finding young Gary.

Thanks to all and to Davy Taylor who took those incredible photos of the team with Gary and the evacuation by helicopter.

It is great to have a good news tale in the sad world?

!Great things can happen when men, women and mountains meet”

Have a great day.


“Dead men don’t wave”…-must-come-first/ ‎ […]

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 Family, Friends, Mountain rescue, mountain safety, Mountaineering, Scottish winter climbing., Views Mountaineering, Weather. Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Call out on Ben Nevis in March 1990 and a great ending updated yesterday July 2017 .

  1. Dave Earl says:

    Great story Dave, I`ll always be proud of what you and all the MRT`s have done over the years, the hills are our passion, but as we all know the weather can sometime be unforgiving, and our luck can run out, though I myself have been lucky over the years, it is always good to know that our guardian angels are there at the ready to hit the mountains at a minutes notice. Thankfully on this occasion it was a happy ending for all concerned, and for you to get that e-mail from the young lads brother describing how his recovery by the team from him being on the brink of certain death on the Ben that day, had changed his life, was truly amazing.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Fiona Daintith says:

    This made me weep. What an amazing story with a wonderful outcome.

    Liked by 1 person

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