When I joined Mountain Rescue in the 70’s the Mountaineering World was life was dominated by males. I was amazed to meet Molly Porter a strong powerful leader and Mountaineer who then was the leader of the Cairngorm MRT. Coming from a military background mainly male I was amazed yet over the years I have thank goodness been educated and things have changed rapidly.

Molly Porter leader of the Cairngorm MRT Team .

I read a great book just before that it became one of my favourite called “Space below my feet” written by the Climber and Mountain Guide Gwen Moffat.

An inspired read .

A classic mountaineering memoir by one of the UK’s foremost female climbers.

In 1945, when Gwen Moffat was in her twenties, she deserted from her post as a driver and dispatch rider in the Army and went to live rough in Wales and Cornwall, climbing and living on practically nothing. She hitch-hiked her way around, travelling from Skye to Chamonix and many places in between, with all her possessions on her back, although these amounted to little more than a rope and a sleeping bag.

When the money ran out, she worked as a forester, went winkle-picking on the Isle of Skye, acted as the helmsman of a schooner and did a stint as an artist’s model. And always there were the mountains, drawing her away from a ‘proper’ job.

Throughout this unique story, there are acutely observed accounts of mountaineering exploits as Moffat tackles the toughest climbs and goes on to become Britain’s leading female climber – and the first woman to qualify as a mountain guide.

Book Description

A classic mountaineering memoir by one of the UK’s foremost female climbers.

Gwen Moffat was the first woman to qualify as a mountain guide in the UK and is one of the greatest female climbers this country has ever produced.

She is also a prolific writer and novelist, with more than 30 books to her name.

I was inspired to read this and it’s a “must read” it explains Gwen life in the 50’s. These were hard times for girls especially with a young daughter.

Climbing then was “beardy men “and though women climbed and many were great Mountaineers about little was known about them.

I was so pleased to meet Gwen at a RAF MRT reunion where she met many of the girls that had joined Mountain Rescue. She is still around and was the inspiration for many and recently the BMC did a film on her life. What a star.

Yesterday I heard the great news that Jenny Graham our local hero from Inverness. She had just been awarded her Guinness record for her incredible Round the World unsupported cycle.

In this incredible feat she achieved an amazing World record. She was unsupported and I followed her daily on line.

To do this was some journey. It is wonderful to see a lassie like Jenny become such a star. I heard her speak recently about her trip and it was one of the most incredible talks I have ever heard.

The audience were spellbound as was I. She is a great example how with exceptional determination and fitness she smashed the World record by 3 weeks.

Its OFFICIAL πŸ₯³ I’m #guinnessworldrecord holder πŸ…πŸ’―βœ” The fastest woman to cycle around the world – all 18,000miles of it! Fellow Scot and male record holder Mark Beaumont came along to celebrate the occasion this morning πŸš΄β€β™€οΈπŸŒŽπŸ΄σ §σ ’σ ³σ £σ ΄σ Ώ

During the ride I kept audio diaries and with the help of our storyboard consultant & Shand Cycles we’ve made them into an eight-part podcast series…

Look here πŸ‘€πŸ‘€http://theadventuresyndicate.com/adventure-syndicate-productions

Endura APIDURA #leighdaycycling Pennie Latin @unitasglobal John Hampshire #cyclinguk #bikeweekUK #gwrday

I would advise you to listen to the podcasts they are magical and as always Jenny is humble and inspiring. I cannot wait to get my young granddaughters to meet her

Another star is Di Gilbert – Mountaineer

There are certain achievements that we all hear about and think ’Wow’. At only 31 years of age, Di Gilbert, has spent most of her life enjoying the great outdoors. She is one of a select in-demand guides and climbing instructors, who travel the globe, teaching people how to climb safely and leading teams of enthusiasts to the tops of some of the most treacherous mountains in the world. Oh yes, she just became only the second Scottish women in history to climb Mount Everest.

Gary Fisher, Inside Aberdeenshire

Di Gilbert works full time as an Independent Mountaineering Instructor, based in the Cairngorm National Park. She has never had a proper job and it is unlikely that this will change now.

Di has stood on the bottom of the world without falling off, she has stood on top of the world without suffering from vertigo, she has climbed the world’s 7 summits and completed all 282 Munros. In 2016, Di was Expedition Leader with the Adventure Peaks K2 Expedition – the first British Expedition to K2 in 12 years – but success was not to be when an avalanche completely destroyed Camp 3 ending the season sooner than expected.  

Di holds the MIC qualification, the American Avalanche Association Level 2 and both Snowsport Scotland Alpine and Mountain Ski Leader Awards.

She has represented Great Britain in the International Ski Mountaineering Federation’s World Championships and is a Director of Skimo Scotland, the home of ski mountaineering racing in Scotland.

It took Di, 6,773 days or 18 years, 6 months and 18 days to complete her Munros – somewhat longer and possibly harder than it took her to summit the world’s 7 summits. 

Di also spent 4 Antarctic seasons based at Patriot Hills, initially as a Guide, before reached the dizzy heights of Field Operations Manager with Antarctic Expeditions & Logistics before finally hanging up her pink sorrel boots and carhartts for the final time in 2007. 

In 2015, Di was inducted into the University of Strathclyde’s Sports Hall of Fame and awarded an Honorary Full Sporting Blue for showing an outstanding high level of sporting achievement.

Di has finally admitted to bagging the Corbetts and is hoping that it will take less time to complete the Munros.

Having said that she would never go back to Everest, she has finally decided that it would be good to go back and will by leading the 2019 Adventure Peaks Everest Expedition.

Update Di is back and summitted from the North side Everest thats amazing Di climbed it Everest twice. She is a great lass another lovely person and a talented Mountaineer. Like Jenny she is another amazing lassie who is just as happy in the Worlds big mountains or at home climbing and skiing in Scotland . It’s amazing how many talented Di is from the local area and is another magical personality. I meet Di on the hills or through really good pals. She is all go and such a fun person. She loves her Scottish Mountains and with her pals is at home here. She works with so many passing on her hard won skills. If you meet anyone who has been out on the hills with her they will have had a great day.

Di Everest Certificate from the Chinese .

It took years to get lassies in the RAF Mountain Rescue yet all over the Civilian Mountain Rescue we had lassies in every team.

I admit I was a bit of a Dinosaur in these early days yet I was quickly changed and what a difference they made to our teams.

I was honoured to introduce two of the girls to Gwenn MOFFAT and always buy a copy of her book for budding female Mountaineers. I was not the only one to be a dinosaur as my Mountaineering Club The Scottish Mountaineering Club took years to accept female members into the SMC. It’s amazing to write this in this day and age.

We now have so many iconic ladies in all sports and in life my friend Heather Morning another incredible Mountaineer and Mountain Safety Officer was a breath of fresh air in the Mountain Safety world . She is another inspiration on the hills a true lover of the mountains and always there to spread the Mountaineering message.

For many years we have had amazing female Search and Rescue Dog handlers. There were so many to mention but each one was special to me.

Often they worked alone and were always incredible folk as they are in SARDA all over the UK. Many have been pals for over 30 years and it’s amazing to see how hard they worked to be accepted in a man’s world.

It’s wonderful how all this has changed all for the better and how Mountaineering has changed. So many girls are out on the mountains and wild places together enjoying it.

What a change in my 50 years on the hills. I gave a talk at the Clachaig Inn a few years ago the audience was 50/50 men and women. What a change from “Beardy men and Tartan shirts. ”

We have another female team leader currently at Assynt MRT Sue Agnew who along with many others is the mainstay of Mountain Rescue Teams.

How times have moved on.

I watched the Scottish Ladies football team a few nights ago. I loved the game they played against England it was all heart and lots of skill. They played the game with an honest and sporting approach. It was refreshing to see what an example they set.

I am a convert and how amazing it was to watch this and enjoy the sport again.

The men can learn from this !

I have missed so many others out I am sorry it’s great that there are so many iconic ladies out there. I am honoured to have met so many.

My Mum played a huge part in my life and would love to see how the World has changed especially for lassies.

My two granddaughters did their first races this week at aged 5 and 9. They constantly tell me about Girl power. Their Mum is a powerhouse and they are lucky to have met so many inspiring folk already.

I cannot wait to introduce them to some of these great incredible people and hope that their enthusiasm for sport and the wild places and life in general stays with them throughout life. What a start you have.

Thank you ladies for all the inspiration.

I could have written on so many more please forgive me for missing you out.

Comments welcome .

About heavywhalley.MBE

After dinner speaker Lecturer and Mountain Rescue Specialist. Environmentalist. Spent 37 years with RAF Mountain Rescue and 3 years with a civilian Team . Still an active Mountaineer and loves the wild places.
Link | This entry was posted in Articles, Books, Family, Films, Friends, Himalayas/ Everest, History, Lectures, Mountain Biking, Mountain rescue, People, Recomended books and Guides, SMC/SMT, Views Mountaineering, Views Political?. Bookmark the permalink.

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