Thinking of Lochaber MRT on their search on Beinn a Chaorainn. (Roybridge) Advice for Hillwalkers warned about magnets in clothing

Lochaber MRT photo.

Lochaber MRT photo

From Lochaber MRT – “The team have been out again today looking for a missing person who fell through a cornice yesterday afternoon on Beinn a Chaorainn. Once again very challenging conditions are limiting efforts to perform a thorough search of the fall zone. With further large amounts of snow forecast over the next few days these areas will just be too risky to search. We will resume as soon as the weather allows us to access the coire.”

I have sadly been on many call -outs in the past on this hill and was involved in many searches it is a tricky mountain in bad weather.

Photo  and words Lochaber MRT.

What a great job Lochaber Mountain Rescue are doing and the other teams I hope once the conditions settle they find the missing walker and the one on Ben Nevis.

23/1/94 Beinn a Choarrain This Munro summit ridge is well corniced – so take care in snow and mist IT CAN BE TRICKY NAVIGATION , there have been many accidents here in the past.

Cornice Beinn a’ Chaorainn

On one incident in 1994 we searched for months for a missing walker who had walked over the edge on January 1994 he was located in August – 6 months later under several feet of ice, It was a sad time for the family and the length of time their loved one was missing for made things even worse. I took the young son Neil who was with his Dad when he went over the cornice a day later after hed got down to raise the alarm, Neil showed me the exact spot where he last saw his Dad and it was an incredible effort by the young 18 year old. I searched along with Lochaber MRT for many months looking for his Dad it was a hard, sad time.   This Corrie can be very tricky ground to search in this wild coire is and always was threatened by huge cornices as we searched. This hill has a big history for me and is in no way a simple boring hill and at over a 1000 metres is big mountain.

2017 Dec – I met that young man Neil  at a lecture for Mountain Aid that I did in Cuoar this year, he introduced himself to me he is now a member of Ochils MRT. It was a magic night to meet him after the sadness of those dark days in 1994 but Lochaber MRT found his Dad. in the end thanks to Hamish MacInnes who brought in ground radar in Sep 94 and there was still a huge amount of snow. It was wonderful meeting Neil and one of the most moving nights of my life. That awful day he did his best and helped us so much and that day we went out to where his father fell was a hard day yet this young man helped so much. I hope we meet again and his Dad would be so proud of what a man he has turned out to be.

We never give up in Mountain Rescue and it was a special night meeting and talking to Neil.

Beinn a’ Chaorainn – Once on the ridge, there are no easy escape routes. A quick escape can be made from the summit by descending the northeast ridge, which descends from the south summit (Point 1049). However, caution is required on account of the in cut gully south of the main summit which is not terribly obvious on the map and is a known accident blackspot.

 Beware of the cornice on Beinn a’ Chaorainn in poor visibility. Large cornices often build up on the steep east flank above Coire na h-Uamha, and due to the incut corrie edge a safe line between any of the hill’s three summits requires a dogleg rather than a straight line. It’s a well-known spot for tricky navigation, and for accidents,


This time last year was an easy winter there was hardly any snow this is a photo in late  on in  January in the Fannichs on the outlier Achailleach. It was an easy walk but there was plenty of ice on the grass in places and care had to be taken. This winter there is tons of snow and many white outs cornices are huge and it is Winter Mountaineering. Even on this day in the Fannichs we had to be careful with the grass covered ice.

2017 Snow-less Fannichs January how things can change.


Warning – Hillwalkers warned about magnets in clothing

Magnets in outdoor clothing and on phone covers raise the risk of hill walkers making navigational errors, Mountaineering Scotland has warned.

The group said magnets were increasingly being used as fastenings on items such as gloves.

Mountaineering Scotland said a recent incident in Glen Shee was thought to have been caused by a magnetic fastening deflecting a compass needle.

It said a group of walkers had wrongly headed east instead of west.

They then became disorientated in low cloud and ended up miles away from a road that would have led them to safety.

‘Life-threatening consequences’

Heather Morning, mountain safety adviser for Mountaineering Scotland, said: “Fortunately no-one was hurt – just pride dented – but it could have turned out so much worse had mountain conditions been more severe.

“The reason for the error was the compass.

“It had been stored in a pocket next to a mobile phone in a case which had a magnetic closure on it, and the magnet had reversed the polarity of the compass needle, so that the north arrow pointed south.”

The phenomenon of reversed polarity has been publicised previously in mountaineering circles. People are advised to keep their compasses well away from mobile phones.

Mountaineering Scotland said it was concerned by the growing use of magnetic closures in outdoor clothing.

Ms Morning said: “Modern technology is great. The resources available now to keep us warm and safe in the mountains have never been better.

“But more joined-up thinking is needed between outdoor clothing manufacturers and mountain users to avoid potentially life-threatening consequences.”

Once the weather settles it will be a winter wonderland that so many will enjoy watch the weather listen to the Avalanche reports, tell folk where your going and always if in doubt turn back. The hills will always be there the secret is to be there with them.


2018 Jan Top of Lochan

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

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