Missing Walker located by Mountain Rescue Teams. A few thoughts and grateful thanks to those involved.k

From BBC Scotland – Yesterday – 

“The body of a man who went missing with his brother on a hillwalking trip in the Highlands on 8 February has been found.

Neil and Alan Gibson failed to return from a walk in the Achnashellach area of Strathcarron.

The body of Alan, 56, was found on 10 February following extensive searches, and the body of their Pointer dog Archie a few days later.

Neil’s body was discovered on Saturday. He was 63.

The brothers were from Nairn, though Alan was understood to have been living in County Durham.”

A few will read this and there will be few who appreciate the time the family have had waiting for news for over 6 weeks. Sadly this happens every year and at present there are two climbers still missing from this winter. The Torridon and Lochaber Team will be looking whenever they can and the families sit and wait. I know what the families go through after 40 years of Mountain Rescue I was often in conversation with many relatives over the years, many are still in touch 30 years after a tragedy . This time it was personal as both brothers were my sisters nephews.

It has been such a difficult time for the family and the weeks of waiting after Alan was found at last they have closure. I was out alone three times looking for Neil it is a wild area and a big winter. It was a wild place to search and took a lot out of me every time I went out it was full on winter with huge amounts of snow.?iThe effort of the teams especially Torridon was exceptional and all the effort by SARDA and the other teams was huge. Also great work by the SAR helicopter in the searches they all worked so hard in testing conditions.

I had the privilege of thanking some of the searchers early on in the search. The weather was wild and I was worried for all their safety! These are a unique bunch of men and women who give of their time to help find lost souls. There is no payment just some gear and the camaraderie that you cannot explain to others who do not use the mountains or wild places. Yet they give up their time and many weekends family events birthdays to help others. This winter is testing teams to the full and they are proving so resilient and doing some amazing work.

So when you hear about the recovery of a lost soul few will understand what it means. Many will think that the helicopter arrives and that is it. Sadly that not how it was and how the teams Torridon and RAF Lossiemouth MRT had to carry the a casualty for several hours. That is hard work and the 20 odd team members would be working hard carrying a heavy stretcher for several miles over rough ground. Constant changeovers are necessary as it’s hard going and after a such effort off your body aches.

Then the Police or officials take over at the transport or road head and you as a Mountain Rescuer go back to “normal” to the family the kids and life! You rarely say what you have been doing it’s private but it makes you appreciate what you have even more. That first word or cuddle when in you come in the door after a sad call out is so important.

I cannot thank all involved in the search and recovery of Neil and Alan and at last the family can mourn. In my time in the mountains I have seen many things the highs and lows and lost many pals and freinds over the years. Yet  the mountains and wild places still bring something unique to my life add the adventures, camaraderie and memories and it is an incredible experience that keeps teaching me about life.

These past 6 weeks have been very difficult for the family but all those involved in the recovery have done a great thing to bring the “Gibson Boys” home.

Thank you all.

Please be aware that it is still winter on the hills after yesterdays sunshine snow is forecast for the Easter weekend, take care and please leave a note of where your going.


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 Family, Mountain rescue, mountain safety, Mountaineering, Views Mountaineering, Weather. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Missing Walker located by Mountain Rescue Teams. A few thoughts and grateful thanks to those involved.k

  1. Lisa says:

    My fiance died in an avalanche in the Scottish hills in 2016 – I am eternally grateful to those in LMRT who brought him home to me and I feel for those who have to wait for the mountains to reveal their loved ones . Thanks to all those involved in Mountain Rescue – you are my heroes.


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