Scary helicopter ride in Skye?

When you look at the photo below it is just the normal photo of a wild Corrie in Skye. It is

Coire Bhasteir in Skye the Gateway to this part of the Skye ridge. Every time I look at it I see the small gorge in the middle of the photo a place that few venture into.It is a small wild gorge that we flew into in the mist on a call out on Sgurr Nan Gillian in the mid 80’s.

The Wessex a great helicopter in action! Photo D. Taylor

We were told that a climber had fallen on Pinnacle Ridge a great rambling route on Sgurr Na Gillian. Skye Mountain Rescue Team had asked for help to assist and I was picked up with a pal from the Kintail Ridge where I was with the RAF Leuchars MRT for the weekend . We had left early to climb the North and South Clunnies together a big day. The Wessex from Leuchars was up training and we had great liaison with them, they were called in to assist Skye MRT. They called over the radio for man power and picked us up plus my dog. We were half way along the North Clunnie it was barely 1000 we had left early and were going well. We were travelling light, very light and hoping to move fast I was pretty fit at that time.

The Bhaister Gorge !

We were travelling light as it is a big day of 17 Monros planned.

We had hoped that day to get the route completed I had done it once before. It’s a huge 18 – 20 hour day but we were young and fit. Within 15 mins we were picked up on the hill and heading for Skye.

The weather came in as we were heading from the Sligachan Hotel to the hill. This who know Skye is complex ground and as we gained height we got caught in the mist and ended up in the Bhaister gorge!”> Andy Lawson photo the Gorge[/caption]It wa

It was so tight with a river below us  and we soon realised we were not in the main Coire and had an epic backing out of it. Mick Anderson was the winch man (sadly now gone) and we had a conflab. I had been in this gully before it is now in the scrambles guide but not the place for a helicopter in poor weather.

The Gorge from Pinnacle Ridge photo from Andy Lawson thanks !

The rotors looked so close (they were)but we got out, it was some great the flying. In the Wessex I was at the door with Mick he was talking them out of the gorge. It was then the weather cleared and we were out and dropped of near the first pinnacle on  ridge.

It was steep loose ground scary ground but I was never so glad to be out even on the hill.I was so glad to get out on the ridge and myself and Teallach (my dog) got winched down. If I remember the Skye team were impressed. We were just glad to be alive. Our poor casualty had a badly broken ankle but was glad to get sorted and we got him down a gully still full of snow, interesting in lightweight boots?

The casualty got taken into the Corrie by stretcher there was still snow about and then picked up by our helicopter with us to Broadford Hospital in Skye . Poor Skye Team had to walk off, but we had to go with the helicopter, which we were glad off. It was then a quick re – fuel at Broadford and we then got another call – out to a ship with an injured fisherman crewman near Mallaig. In these days mid 80’s there was no night vision goggles and we spent the night in a hotel in Mallaig and then next day back to Kintail to rejoin our team! The dog shared 5 star attention with us!

In the morning we were dropped at Kintail to meet the team and for “tea and medals ”

Little did we know then that these were some of the best days of our lives?

“Queen’s words sum these days up! ”

Queen – Days of our lives!

A busy weekend and a big learning curb again. Three weeks later I broke my ankle playing football and had a pin and plate in for two years. I was back on the hill after the plaster was off with a boot and a trainer on in Arran, getting strange looks. Its crazy now looking back. These were the days!

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

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