What is the best low tech kit for the hill? To me its a whistle “a successful rescue on a wild day in Skye”

Today I set off early in the rain and came back due to the body not fancying a day in the rain and mist. The Dava Moor was wet and misty  no views and I can pick my hill days now.

It made me think of the best and cheapest low key kit for the hills. I love the whistle and have located a few casualties in wild weather due to their blowing a whistle. On a call – out when we were in Skye it had been an awful weekend the ridge was treacherous as were the winds. We were planning and easy rain as it was pouring rain and windy, the mist was down. We were asked by the Skye Team to help in a search on the Skye ridge. A solo walker had not returned from Sgurr Ghreadaidh/Sgurr A’ Mhadaidh Now Skye in the rain  mist and wet is not the best of combinations. As the rain poured down and the walk up to the great cliffs  and wild Corrie carrying ropes, stretchers and gear is one to forget. The rivers were high and the ground soaked, higher up there was no views only thick mist, this could be a tricky call – out.    It was a wild night and we were asked to meet at first light for a briefing by Gerry Ackroyd  and then to start the search, we had a plan. It was not to be an easy day. The walk in up to the Corrie was hard work with limited viability and once in the Corrie we had a stop and in the rain and wind we hear a faint whistle. There were a lot of us over 30 and we all went quite and blew back on one of our whistle and then heard the whistle faintly again up in the steep cliffs

2002 Skye  March  Call -out waiting for the casualty to get brought down in the rain?

March 2002 – Sgurr Ghreadaidh/Mhadaidh

March 2002 Sgurr Ghreadaidh/Mhadaidh,

Skye Ridge

Missing male, found safe and well after night search. Heard his whistle on a very poor day wet and heavy misty. Syke MRT / RAF Kinloss MRT.

A few of the Skye team went to investigate and eventually they located the casualty. He was wet,cold but okay and how happy he was to be located as we headed up to help. The ground was awful soaking wet and slippy but the Skye Team had a good route down and then it was head back. The walk out was hard enough and I was so glad that we had located the casualty and he was in good spirits and the teams were safe. The phone does not work in this deep corrie and you have to get onto the ridge for communications but he was not happy moving so did the right thing. He had a hellish night.


2005 on another search in Skye this time with a sad result.

It was great to be down at Skye Base with the casualty who was fine and the Skye Ridge was easy on us that day. On many others it was not. Skye Mountain Rescue do a great job in the one of the most serious places in the UK and I have some great memories of Skye and the characters in the team.

Call out brief at Skye by Gerry and Kenny in Skye base a magic assert thanks to the Order of St John.

My advice is if you are lost and have a whistle please keep blowing it if in trouble. The idea that you blow then answer back is great but if in doubt keep blowing as in the wind and rain sounds travel. Blow , blow, blow till help returns – any comments welcome as always.
Whistle or Torch

From a website !

“An essential piece of kit for everyone to carry is a torch and whistle, with the sole purpose of the whistle being for emergency signalling.

The International distress signal is 6 blasts repeated with an interval of one minute between each series of 6 blasts. If your whistles are heard, you should hear three whistles in reply. Keep repeating the whistle blasts so that your location can be determined. Help may take some time to reach you, so keep whistling every minute until you are certain that rescuers are on the way, i.e. you can see a dozen bobbing head torch beams making their way to you.

Keep blowing ! My advice !!!

Follow the same process for torchlight, flashing the light instead of whistling. However, If a Search & Rescue helicopter is nearby, shine the torch on the ground, not at the helicopter, as the bright light will affect the pilot’s Night Vision equipment.

The obvious limiting features are that someone has to hear or see you, and if you’re in a remote valley after everyone else has left, your signals could go unheard”

My adivice . Especially in Scotland the quite Corries most are keep blowing !!!

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 Enviroment, Family, Mountain rescue, Mountaineering, Munros, People, Views Mountaineering, Weather. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to What is the best low tech kit for the hill? To me its a whistle “a successful rescue on a wild day in Skye”

  1. Stovieneil says:

    The other obvious cheap bit of kit is the good old Orange Survival Bag. Probably the best £3 bit of kit you can ever buy!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Stovieneil says:

    No problem Heavy.
    The reborn Ultimate Equipment do a combined orange bag and whistle for £4.50. Combining two very useful bits of hill gear!
    Spotted here: http://www.newheights.co.uk/camping-and-adventure-products/ultimate-equipment.html
    Best aye

    Liked by 1 person

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