Tragic loss for us all the Loss of Andy Nisbet and Steve Perry in a climbing accident on Ben Hope .

From Assynt Mountain Rescue Team yesterday

“Over 5 and 6 Feb team members were involved in a search and recovery of two persons on Ben Hope. Extremely welcome support from Dundonnell MRT and Lossiemouth MRT. And huge thanks to Police Scotland and both Stornoway And Dalcross based Coastguard helicopters for their outstanding support over the two days. Our sincere condolences and thoughts go out to all the family and friends, many of whom are involved in mountain rescue.”

Yesterday the news came in that two incredible Mountain people had been killed on Ben More – Scotland’s most Northerly Munro! I knew right away that it could be a pal Andy Nisbet and his climbing partner Steve Perry.  Unfortunately I hardly knew Steve but he was another powerful climber and one who was one of the strongest climbers in the SMC. (Scottish Mountaineering Club) He had done a unsupported traverse of all Scotland’s Munro’s in the past.

” From BBC news “Steve Perry was also a well-known mountaineer, who had completed an on-foot round of the Munros in the winter of 2005-06 and was a keen climber in both summer and winter, who listed new routing in winter Scotland as one of his favourite climbing experiences.”

I sadly had an awful feeling when I heard that there had been an accident on Ben More. I knew that Andy was up that way climbing as always on new winter routes. Andy was always climbing especially in winter with his many friends many who are some of the best winter climbers in the UK,  that was who and what he lived for.

Andy gave me a few photos for my Mountain Safety lectures I do not know who took them but if you can help please let me know. This one is iconic.

I knew Andy very well he was roughly the same age as me but what an incredible. Mountaineer in every aspect. He was the most active prolific Mountaineer that Scotland has ever produced. He has climbed over 1000 plus new winter routes all over Scotland his enthusiasm was dynamic. Never in the history of Scottish Mountaineering has anyone been so prolific or enthusiastic and introduced so many to the mountains especially in winter

It was in winter that Andy excelled he climbed all over Scotland most crags have a “Nisbet Route” and was “the expert in Scottish winter climbing” I was lucky to know Andy we met often on the hills. At one time he was the youngest to complete the Munro’s at that time at 17 years old. This is where we had a common interest in the hills, especially his marathon hill days with rock climbing added to produce some incredible days.

Though he was such an incredibly talented Mountaineer he always had time to speak and give me and so many others the benefit of his knowledge.  He was always interested in what we were up to and if we had found any new crags, on our wanders round Scotland with the RAF Teams.

We met many times but one that stands out was on a wild night in the 80′ in the Hutchison Hut in the Cairngorms . I had fought my way round five Munros in early winter with a young troop, we so glad to find the hut empty. Andy arrived with the young  Grahame Livingston after putting up a new route on Coire Sputan Dearg. I thought I was fit and in came Andy and Graham they were plastered in snow, with wild eyes it was very late and had been dark and a blizzard was blowing. It had been one of the worst days ever for me in the mountains yet how they climbed in these conditions I will never know. Yet we had a great night in that freezing bothy sharing our food and stories.

We met often even on a Rescues and at Glenmore Lodge on routes across Scotland and many of my team especially the young ones of an Andy Nisbet story. He was such a good man and his encyclopedic knowledge of Scotland was unsurpassed. He was always been willing to share and help folk and pass on his knowledge. There will be amazing eulogies he climbed with most of Scotland’s great climbers. He started many on the road to the mountains in his guiding and so many will have a tale about Andy and Steve who was also a powerhouse in the mountains. He was so well known through his Guide books and articles and by those who knew him so well.

Yesterday I lost a good pal who was a huge icon in Scottish Mountaineering. Many will miss that wild beard frozen up and his vagueness when chasing new lines on the mountains but what huge enthusiasm on the crag. He was a huge influence on the Scottish Mountaineering Club ( SMC) where he was on many of the Committees and served as President. I knew him for the many meetings we had with the Scottish Mountain Trust and the huge work he did for mountain lovers  and the Guide Books that he loved and wrote.

Sadly Andy and Steve are with us  no more and we have lost two men who are irreplaceable in this wee country that we love.

Steve and Andy had climbed a lot together they were a formidable partnership and the news is just starting to sink in. Its so hard to take in. We lose so many to the mountains it always so hard to understand why ?

Sadly the pain we leave behind for the families and friends is heartbreaking.

My thoughts are with Andy and Steve’s families and all their pals what an awful tragic day.

The Mountain Rescue Teams of Assynt, Dundonnell and RAF Lossiemouth MRT’s carried out a huge call out along with the SAR Helicopter in such a remote area. My thanks are to them, many in the teams will know Andy and Steve and thanks for all their efforts.

Andy Nisbet on Beinn Eighe.

Life can be so hard at times.

My thoughts are with Steve and Andy’s family and friends.

How do we Justify a life – Dave Bathgate.

For Tony, Dougal, Mick. Bugs, Nick, ET AL

How can we justify a life,

Spent sitting at the coal?

Or roaring at the stadium,

Foul ref, off side, goal.

And how do we justify the time

Spent sitting at the set?

Or in the boozer sinking pints,

Or placing one more bet.

And tell us how we justify,

The attitude today?

That even if we shirk the work,

We still expect the pay?

How can we justify a life

Without a plan or vision?

With never a constructive thought

No risks and no ambition?

And yet we sit and criticise

The spirit wild and free

Who climbs the highest mountains

And sails the cruellest seas.

Who plumbs the deepest oceans

Or explores the darkest caves.

Or has the crazy notion

to surf the biggest wave.

Blinded by security

We say they must be fools,

To shoot white water rapids,

Or fight fast whirlpool

But a true appreciation

Of life we will never know,

Till we have pushed our minds and bodies

As far as they can go.

And if death should overtake us.

Then death must have been due,

But there is no sting in death,

No sting for you.

Poem by Dave Bathgate

 Andy Nisbet

This is from Ron Walker

It’s hard to take in, I keep hoping I’m having a bad dream. Andy for all his climbing achievements and fame once you met and knew him, you realised he was such a ordinary, humble, kind and genuine person who was always happy to share and chat to everyone whether in the mountains, at the crags or in the supermarket buying snowballs and sugarpuffs! He always that mischievous twinkle in his eye, as if he was a naughty schoolboy doing something he shouldn’t be, such as eating sweet and cake or mixed climbing as in this photo! His mate I didn’t know Steve that well and although outwardly different in character he was another genuine person who lived for his adventures in the mountains with Andy and mates and especially climbing new winter lines. The climbing world will be shocked.

Thank you Ron


Andy Nisbet – photo Ron Walker.

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 Articles, Bothies, Mountain rescue, mountain safety, Scottish winter climbing., SMC/SMT, Views Mountaineering, Weather. Bookmark the permalink.

36 Responses to Tragic loss for us all the Loss of Andy Nisbet and Steve Perry in a climbing accident on Ben Hope .

  1. A touching tribute Heavy. Such a shock.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Graham Akroyd says:

    Well captured Heavy, knew Andy in passing and will remember the knowing smile! Andy was such a constant in Scottish Mountaineering and was inspirational to many generations. Both are a great loss to their families, friends and the mountaineering community.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Colin Wells says:

    Thanks for posting that Heavy, I think it probably sums up what a lot of us feel. Dave Bathgate’s poem is spot-on – although I admit I am now in pieces after reading it.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Pingback: Tributes to ‘incredible mountaineer’ who died during Ben Hope climb | UK news – World News Edition

  5. Francesca Docherty says:

    Hello there- my name is Fran Docherty and I’m a journalist at BBC Radio 4. I’m very sorry to hear the sad news about your friend Andy and his climbing partner Steve. We’d like to speak to you to hear more about their mountaineering career. If you could give me a call today on 07853 395 794 or email on I’d appreciate it. Best wishes.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Ian Swain says:

    My son John and I had some memorable days with Andy being guided and instructed on The Ben. We have a montage on the wall at home of a great day on Tower Ridge. Neither of us can believe it has happened.He will be much missed.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. John MacFadyen says:

    Ted Atkins and now, Andy Nisbet. They both climbed to incredibly high standards and died doing what they loved. No words can comfort family & friends but they do know their loved ones led a most fulfilling life.

    Liked by 3 people

  8. Mark Hudson says:

    Terrible loss. Great man

    Liked by 1 person

  9. diego says:

    I meet Andy on a climbing day many years ago in the cairngoms, after having to back out of a out route we sat for some tea and a cold sandwich he came out of nowhere sat with us and chatted for a while he left a mark on me that day for how happy and genuine he was, He made our day but been nice after we were feeling down, he also commented on my beard both his and mine were frozen. So sorry to hear this news. He will be very missed.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Pingback: Tributes to 'incredible mountaineer' who died during Ben Hope climb | | Lowmiller Consulting Group Blog

  11. elljones41 says:

    Dreadful news; thank you for your post.


  12. Stewart says:

    Anyone dedicated to the mountains in anyway will have met or heard of andy..such a loss to this environment. ..


  13. L.M. says:

    I put this together, as kindred spirit of big hill walks, to tell something of the connection between Steve Perry and Ben Hope.
    I can offer nothing but sadness at his and Andy Nisbet’s tragic passing on that mountain.

    Rochdale was Steve’s hometown, but he lived most of his life in Todmorden ( a town on the route of the Pennine Way).
    In March 1999, Steve walked the Pennine Way , and on day 2, climbing Black Hill, he met another walker, Chris Booker. They stayed together for the rest of the walk. Steve told me it was Chris who inspired him to visit Skye, where he climbed his first Munro, Sgurr nan Gillean, in August that year.

    4 years later, and Steve walked between Land’s End and John O’Groats, taking in the English and Welsh 3000’s, and all the Munros, along the way, with Ben Hope as the final hill. In an email, he described it thus:

    ‘One of the greatest years of my life’

    ‘I didn’t want the trip to end, so much in fact I’d tried to convince my girlfriend back then to let me walk back home, she was having none of it, though she was pregnant so had just cause I suppose. Going back to work was the pits but I decided then I’d move to the Highlands one day and that helped me get through it’.

    4 years on, and in 2007, Steve went on to complete the only solo unsupported Winter round of the Munros, his journey ending on Ben Hope. This mountain, being the furthest North of the Munros, merits its’ iconic status in the minds of those completing a continuous Munro round, and uniquely so in the case of Steve Perry.

    9 years on from Steve’s 2003 walk, purely by chance, I bumped into a Chris Booker on the slopes of Ben Cruachan- the same man who had accompanied Steve along the Pennine Way. At the time, I was out on a similar journey across the British 3000’s. It was Chris who asked me to remember him to Steve.
    I got in touch after my walk, and soon we were on the subject of Ben Hope.
    I said this to Steve about that journey’s end:

    ‘There’s something about the way those last munros play out past Seana Bhraigh and the landscape unfolds in a totally unexpected way-and then there it is- Ben Hope. Like the last ember in a wood fire, catching the draught to shine fiercely – and then it’s gone…For me that was journey’s end. If you were carrying on to JO’G on your first round, was the hill a more significant place on your winter journey?’

    At the time of this exchange, Steve was living ( I think) near Bettyhill. He said:

    ‘I can see Ben Hope from my house and I walk or climb on that hill quite a lot, it means a lot to me after hiking two rounds and all the way dreaming of standing on its summit.’

    Steve’s affinity for the far North shone through:

    ‘Mike and Kai really looked after me on the LEJOG Munro round so it was very fitting to have my party their at the end of my Winter Munro round. I usually always see Mike in the fields there when I’m driving home or down to work and I’ll stop for a chin wag. I’ve had some great nights in The Crask though I must admit its been too long now since the last one’.


    ‘I was up and down Ben Klibreck today before dinner,… the sunrise was spectacular, from Ben More Assynt to Ben Loyal, every summit glowed pink with fresh snow’.

    A few years went by, and still the topic for discussion was Ben Hope.
    This, in a more recent (2014) email from Steve:

    ‘I could see Ben Hope from my garden but I’ve now moved to Dalcross near Inverness.’

    ‘I think I’ve climbed Ben Hope by the most various of routes, including 4 ascents of the normal route, an ascent of Bell’s Ridge in winter, Brown’s Ridge in summer, Tower Ridge in winter, 2 new winter ascents – Hopefall with Andy Nisbet and Gracefall solo. I certainly have a fondness for that mountain.

    Rest in peace, Steve, and Andy.


    Liked by 1 person

  14. L.M. says:

    In my tribute to Steve, I mistakenly gave the date ‘2007’ for his winter round. In fact it was actually 2005-6


  15. John Vaughan says:

    Excuse me, I’m in Asia and heard it was Ben Hope. Dave Bathgate’s poem captures Andy well. He was a proud member of the Mickey Mouse Mountaineering Club and gave an incredible slide show for us in Garve a few years back. Half the village turned out and many young folk were inspired. It’s the only word to describe him, INSPIRATION! We took a projector to his 🏠 in ⛵ of Garden where he checked we weren’t charging for his talk. Then he said “a decent bottle of malt will be fine”. That was our only expense apart from a new sheet to put on the rickety bed at Fieldwork after the proceedings finished. I do feel a little bit sad despite the poem’s sentiment, but privileged is my much stronger feeling. Love and comfort to all those close to him. John (aka The Headingley Bugle)


  16. Pingback: Five Things Friday – Climbing news round up – 22nd Feb - Climber News

  17. Janis and Keith Phillips says:

    We only read about this tragic accident yesterday and we felt so sad that a much gentle kind man as Andy passed in this way. We didn’t know Steve Perry but it is a sad day that they had to die together on Ben Hope when they both had such a passion for the mountains. We were in Switzerland when we first met Andy as Keith my husband was doing a course with Martin Moran who now has lost his life in India. Andy was a gentleman and a kind sole and we both feel so sad that so many great climbers have lost their lives to their passion.


  18. john vaughan says:

    Hi Heavy – going through an old box of things, I found a 2014 Xmas card with the Cuillins plastered in snow on the front. Inside, hand written around the printed ‘Nollaig Chridheil agus Bliadhna Mhath Ur’, are the words: “John, all the best for 2015! Andy N. Thanks for the invite to Scarborough, but I couldn’t leave Scotland in the winter. Enjoy yourselves!” We’d invited him to the Mickey Mouse Mountaineering Club 25th bash. Want to say again how humbled I am to have known this gentle, gentle man. One question: – did his slides go to a good home?

    PS: I used to run Change Management programmes for all 3 forces in Leeds. You weren’t on one, were you?

    Liked by 1 person

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