Great Night at Lochaber the Fort William Mountain Festival / a night in the footsteps of giants !

Yesterday I was asked to speak at the Fort William Film Festival a true honour and present Lochaber MRT with an an award for 50 years of Service!

I had a busy day visiting some great folk and missed out on a special day on the hills but such is life and these few hours with great pals will be hard to beat.

The drive down was spectacular and I have never seen Creag Mheagadaidh looking so good. It was plastered with a pure white blanket of snow and shinning in the sun. The car park was full and blue sky made this an incredible winter wonderland.

My first stop was to see Joss Gosling in Fort William a veteran of RAF Mountain Rescue and on the Kinloss Team in 1951 a wonderful man who I admire so much. We had a great chat and at 89 he was in great form as was his wife Annie.

Then it was down to see Hamish in Glencoe where I had some lunch and he told me so many tales over a 2 hour spell! He also gave me some great words for my chat tonight about Lochaber MRT. The views he has of Glencoe from his house are exceptional a place where Hamish has spent his life what a man and a great afternoon. The big hills of Glencoe were looking splendid but time was moving on but not a second was wasted and I had seen two great folk who I admire and love dearly!

It was then book into my accommodation and then head down to the venue in Fort William for a brief for tonight’s chat! Here I met Cameron and Richard Else the filmmaker and their wife’s who were staring in the Festival tonight!

I managed to watch the Rugby before the Mountain Festival started what a match and that made my night! Anyone want the score,look away now?

The night went great and several of the Lochaber Team Leaders were there and I said a few words and presented the team with a painting of the Brenva Face / North East Buttress on Ben Nevis! There were a few stories of the past and how the team started. I also paid special mention to the families who give so much to the teams and who sit and worry about the team on these wild rescues as happens but is rarely spoken about.Without there support the Team would not exist.

It was a magic night with my pal Cameron getting the Mountain Culture award and then there were some incredible films of what folk are doing and enjoying in the Outdoors.

Then we had a short break and I had a look about in the hall at the exhibitions and there was so much to see. One this bike was one of the attractions from Mick Tighe’s Mountain Heritage Museum great pieces of history!

I met many old pals Alec Gillespie ,Spike Sudsie,Donald and Norah Jimmy Ness.Terry Cornfield and the current Team Leader John Stevenson just back from three call outs. It was then over to the Alexander Hotel for the Ceildh and I left them all dancing later on. I had a drink with Donald and Norah Watt and met the incredible Jimmy Marshall who in my mind was the greatest climber of his day and along with the late Robin Smith opened up the world of climbing in the 50’s and 60’s on Ben Nevis.

From Ray Sefton RAF Mountain Rescue Guru – “  I was around when Lochaber MRT was formed and I have participated with RAF Kinloss an Leuchars teams in many rescues with  Lochaber MRT over the years.  Please give them my congratulations on achieving their 50th anniversary.  Over the years they have carried out so many great technical rescues and hundreds of mountain searches.  As we all know many of the rescues are carried out in the most appalling weather.  Let us hope that the next 50 years will be as successful as the last 50 years”.

The company was special and the place full of young folk few would know who Jimmy or Donald was and what they had done for so many! Some of the Festival Helpers were collecting for Lochaber MRT and we had a laugh with them about who they were asking for cash!

I left later on the Ceildh was going full throttle and they were all enjoying it!

What a great day after a sad week. Today. Lochaber found the missing walker who fell over a cornice on Beinn A’ Chaorainn after a big search helped by the RAF Team and Tayside MRT they then went to a sad incident a fatality on the Glen Finnan hills and then an injured climber on Ben Nevis a sad busy day!

The snow is like iron now and great care is needed! Crampons and ice axes are essential as is the knowledge in their use and so many are enjoying this cold stable spell! The hills are full of folk loving the mountains and wild places just take care and please remember “this is winter mountaineering not hillwalking and look well to each step’

Many thanks to Mike and Tina from the Fort William Mountain Festival for their and so many volunteers unpaid efforts in organising this great event. It is great to see how they push the Outdoors life in this great Outdoor capital of the UK. It is wonderful week of the passing of knowledge of the outdoors in all the things we love. It was great to see so many climbers,walkers,skiers runners,mountain bikers and other outdoor lovers their and gives you faith in this wonderful land and it’s people!

Congratulations to Cameron and Lochaber and the other award winners it was not like an Oscar night but one of inspiration in so many ways. So many good normal folk do so many good things.

Scotland won as well and the forecast is sparkling so live every day and get out and get inspiration whatever you do.

We follow in the footsteps of giants!

Thanks Fort William Mountain Festival and Lochaber MRT for so many years of service and helping others! Have many more and stay safe!

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 Charity, Enviroment, Equipment, Friends, Gear, Health, Ice climbing Canada, Mountaineering, People, Weather. Bookmark the permalink.

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