Apologies for having to cancel a few talks recently I am trying to get health sorted out.

This week I should have been down South doing a talk for the Mayo family and the Bowland Pennine MRT but unfortunately I have not been feeling great for a while.

One of the problems was I lost my voice this has been ongoing and I had a hacking cough, this led to months of very limited sleep, waking and choking at times a bit scary when you live alone. I picked up bronchitis,nearly pneumonia on my Cycle to Syracuse in the USA in 2018. I was getting soaked most days after already having a bad cough on the big training trip to Edinburgh during “Storm Calumn”. I have not been right since then it’s been an ongoing problem. Whenever I tried to get out and exercise I coughed as soon as I put in any effort. So I have had to put my talk off and have decided to cut back on them until I get fully fit. So I had to cancel my talk and I fell terrible to let folk down as it would have been a hard night being with the family for the talk. The Mayo family lost their father, young son aged 15 and an uncle in the Cairngorms in a tragedy in February 1993. I had just handed over as the Team Leader of the RAF Kinloss Mountain Rescue Team but was out in the search as a team member. It was one of the hardest call – outs in my life and I have written about our part in several blogs on the tragedy. John Allen in “Cairngorm John” relates the incident through the eyes of the Cairngorm Team. It was a tragic few days in a period of wild weather and many incidents occurred in these dark days. As you can see from our Incidents that year we were all over Scotland there were some great success’s but sadly a lot of fatalities, that year there were 20 we were involved in.

My cough over the years has got worse since I was avalanched years ago 1972 on Lancet Edge and damaged my lungs with snow inhalation. We were all lucky but I got an X ray after I returned to Kinloss and the Doctor said I may have problems in later years. He was right but as a young 19 year old you do not bother with the future, your invincible or so you think. Also the many years in the mountains in bad weather have taken there toll and I have a hacking cough most of the time. In the early days wearing damp, wet kit on call outs and my big walks, where there was no way to get kit dry did not help. You learn and things improve over the years but sometimes its to late.

Also “passive smoking” has played its part sharing offices with so many smokers in the military days. In bad weather on the hills communication can be hard and I had a “strong voice” which many know and heard years of overuse in wild weather have not helped. I was also told it can be a sign of stress as I am continuing to try to write my book but its so hard as so many incidents are dark times, so many memories are still today. I have also lost a few pals recently and friends are getting old a few are ill and a lot of folk want a piece of me. That is a great honour that folk confide in you but it can get hard. It all adds up and I am trying to adjust things to make life a bit easier. You cannot help how you feel or how you cope and how you are made up its in your DNA. I keep getting asked about my book as I feel it may give an insight into Mountain Rescue during these years from all over Scotland? Maybe I need a ghost writer, so many memories but also so many lessons?

Anyway just now I am slowly getting better, sleep is easier and the cough has improved I am seeing another consultant next month. so fingers crossed.

This had been ongoing for me in my life in Mountain Rescue since 1972 and looking back took a toll on me and those I love. We were often going from incident to incident sometimes without a break. Then we had at times a long drive home to our families, there was little time to think. There was little social media in these days unlike now and few knew apart from those inside Mountain Rescue and their long suffering families knew what was happening.

1993 RAF Kinloss MRT Stats.

5/1/93Glencoe – Stob Coire Nan Lochan 41/150550 Fatality 2 fallen Climbers one killed, Boomerang Gully- other injured. 202 Sqn evacuated one, other recovered by Glencoe.
5/1/93Glencoe – Stob Coire Nam Beith 41/1335592 Missing climbers located uninjured, very cold after spending night on summit, evacuated by 202Sqn.
25/1/93Glencoe – Buachaille Etive Mor 41/184544Fatality – Fallen climber died of injuries. Evacuated by team
29/1/93Torridon – Liathach 25/937585Fatality – Walker fell into Corrie 800 ft, Night evacuation by KMRT
2/2/93Ben Nevis – Tower Ridge 41/166718Fallen Climber – Tower Ridge, team members at CIC Hut, evacuated casualty with suspected broken ankle.
6/2/93Glencoe – Buachaille Etive Mor Coire Tullaich 41/217544Fallen climber.  Search for climber with broken arm.  Located by Glencoe.
12/2/93Geal Charn – Loch Ericht 42/6057852 Missing persons located safe and well, after being benighted.
19 – 21/2/93Cairngorms – Northern Corries3 Fatalities, Family of 3 climbing left – hand branch Y gully. One found on route at belay, others in boulder field in Coire Lochan.
1/3/93Ben Nevis 41/169717Fallen Climber Hadrian’s Wall, hanging in inverted position.  22 Sqn Leuchars lowered him to CIC Hut and evacuated..
17/3/93Mull 49/610250Missing walker found safe and well after being found on hill. Team taken to Mull by lifeboat
24/2/93Skye Sgurr Na Gillean 32/4752538 Missing walkers found and winched by 202 Sqn from the bad step on the Western Ridge.
28/3/93Loch Awe 50/021190Missing person, nothing found.
6/4/93Kildmorie Forest 26/459810DOE, 11 missing teenagers all turned up safe and well.
6/4/93Glen Callater Braemar 44/222799 (Crow Craggies)6 missing scouts plus leader evacuated by 202Sqn. Leader had twisted his knee.
12/4/93Glen Rosa Arran 69/980430Exhausted walker assisted by KMRT, walked off and taken to hospital
16/4/93Knoydart Loch Quioch 33/887009Night search taken by keeper in boat and Tracked wagon for 4 missing DOE walkers found safe and well.
19/5/93Glencoe Buachaille Etive More- Curved Ridge area 41/224545Fatality – Missing Walker located on steep ground evacuated by 202 Sqn.
27 /5/93Glen Loch 43/988734Aircraft Crash. 9 fatalities. Hercules crash. Team involved with Crash guard and recovery
29/5/93Glen Nevis – Secretaries Buttress 41/149687Fallen climber Polldubh over 100 ft, back and head injuries.
2/6/93Fannichs – Loch Broom 20/178837Missing person located safe and well by DMRT, team rtb.
4/7/93Skye – Coire A Ghrunda 32/434199Collapsed walker – heart attack – 202Sqn transported to Raigmore Hospital
14 –16/7/93Daviot Inverness 27/721395Missing person- extensive search failed to find MIP.
22/7/93Carnmore – Letterewe 19/9577593 Elderly walkers were found safe and well on the summit of A Maighdean, airlifted by 202Sqn
23/7/93Glen Affric – Altbeith YH 25/079201Overdue walker found safe and well after spending night in tent.
9/8/93      Loch Morar 40/7899142 overdue German walkers – Found safe and well by 202 Sqn.
21/8/93Ben Nevis Tourist Path 41/151715Team evacuated an injured walker with ankle injuries
1/10/93DalwhinnieSuspect missing aircraft – false alarm
4/12/93 – 7/12/93Kintail/Glen Affric 33/920217Massive search for a missing walker. She was found several years later murdered in the Kintail area.
13/12/93Northern Cairngorms 36/0020431 Fatality, found on Plateau attempts made to resuscitate.
14/ – 16/12/93Glencoe – Stob Coire Nam Beith 41/1395522 Fatalities – Pathfinders located in avalanche after several days search. Found by KMRT 18 foot – prob.

I also got close to many families after a tragic incident that happens and many are still in touch, it who I am as a person and cannot change that. Yet it was an incredible time in our lives, we all cope differently as a few have said its amazing that your still here. I am getting out we had a 10 mile cycle with my Stepdaughter along the canal at Inverness. For once the wind was gone and Yvette was patient we then went straight and picked up the girls from school. There was no rush but I need that feeling of being out again. I appreciate its not easy and patience is not my forte but I look forward to my next summit view once the weather and my health improves?

So this is the reason I have been off the hills this winter and I hope folk understand. I am sure it will all come good and there is plenty of life in the old dog yet?

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, Cycling, Enviroment, Family, Friends, Lectures, Mountain rescue, mountain safety, Mountaineering, People, PTSD, Views Mountaineering, Weather, Well being. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Apologies for having to cancel a few talks recently I am trying to get health sorted out.

  1. Sidney Harding says:

    I know you are aware that I read all your blogs to try to keep in touch with what you are up to. However, what I read today made me sit up and think I should send you a message. I am so sorry to read of your continuing health problems and wish you the best in making a full recovery so you can get out on those mountains again. What you have to realise is, like the rest of us, you are getting older and like the rest of us have to face all these medical conditions that appear to be the penalty for living longer. I suspect there is also a element of the type of life we led during our younger days, particularly in your case with the MRT work you immersed yourself in. in my case I have to just look at all my golf kit and accept I shall never be able to play again with me being almost blind in my right eye, arthritis in both my legs, problems with my pancreas and this week being told I have a problem with one of my left kidney, so no hope for me then.
    However, by keeping in touch with you I know I have to face these things and we must do our best to overcome them. So just take it easy and make sure you are fit enough before attempting more mountain journeys. Get those golf clubs out and get along to Hopeman and show them what you are made of.
    My thoughts are with you pal, just get yourself fit before stepping out and keep the blogs coming.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. peterraikmanpeterraikman says:

    As Sid is trying to say, there is no shame in growing old. I have had to accept this. If your inclination is to be active, medical science will do its best to keep you fit, but will not overcome what you have put your body through during your life. And it may not be able to put right some defects that in my case I was born with, which came to light and blighted my life for a period 35 years ago.
    The best way I have found is to look forward. Yes I can do this and that now, but where does that leave me in10 years time ? What will I be able to do then ? Accept what reason tells you, and plan ahead. And store up your memories. You will need them.
    I learnt this from an old Welsh farmer whom I met when I had to get out and walk after my wife died. It was a lovely early morning in the Conway valley, and it was as if I was meant to find him leaning over a gate. We chatted for an hour, and he told me what he was doing, and what he planned to do. Near the end he let slip that his wife had recently died.
    I walked on thinking if he can plan like that, then so should I.
    Its nae fine grawin’ auld, but dae fit ye can. But dinna mind on dae’in fit ye canna.


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