What was your first Guide book? Routes on Ben Nevis and an early Avalanche in 1953. Be careful this weekend as the weather turns.

I love Guide books when we climbed at lot we would read them avidly. We learned so much from them and at one time we could recite the routes at length and even added Quiz’s to name the routes who climbed them etc. That way we got to know the routes and climbs all over Scotland. As a team we were in a different area every weekend we were so lucky to climb on most areas.

Ben Nevis Guide and Glencoe.

Over the years the guide books have changed so much. They had list of the first ascents and in the early days of RAF Kinloss MRT the team had a few incredible mountaineers. Many were National Service like Ian Clough, Terry Sullivan and Jonnie Lees. There were so many others we pushed the standards in the 50 and 60’s. There are Kinloss routes on Ben Nevis, Glencoe, Skye up North and many were not recorded. It was not the way they did it on these days. Many tales were passed on of wooden wedges made in workshops used on Beinn Eighe. Loose climbs on Fionaven and early climbs on the Costal cliffs.

We would be lured to many of these places and so pleased about following in the footsteps of some of these early greats. We had a few epics of our own.

The early Guide books were very basic in route descriptions that was the way it was then. So we tried to climb as many as we could that Team members were involved in. There were so many on the Ben a few in winter that I set out to climb. Nordwand was one of these climbs on the North Face of Castle Ridge. Most walk by this face and few climbed on it. There were a few Clough routes and we climbed most of them. We got to know this area well.

North Wall of Castle Ridge.

On the Brenva Face there were many other routes that we loved when the Big routes were busy Cresta, Route Magor, Salom, Frostbite, Bob Run always gave us fun . We had a film of the second ascent of Cresta that Hamish did for MOD with the team its a classic.

1957 – High on Observatory Ridge RAF Kinlos MRT archives.

All this was training for Call – outs and nearly 70 years ago the RAF Kinloss Team and the local Lochaber climbers were looking for two climbers missing in the Ben. They were using probes homemade from Gas piping made in workshops. Today Lochaber are out looking for a missing climber who was Avalanches.

Ben Nevis Op 3/53

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 and loves the wild places.
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