I was looking back on a incident that I was involved a while ago. A solo walker left very early from Glasgow area to climb a Munro in February in the West Coast .
He reached the summit did his usual text to his family and stated he was heading down back to his car. The weather came in on his descent and he was in cloud and snow and found had made an 180 degree mistake leaving the summit which took him down into a remote Glen on the West Coast. There are few houses there no phone signal and he managed to get a lift by a passing local to a path that should take him back over the hill.
On his way on the path the weather came in again time was moving and he discovered he had left his gloves in the car. )He only had that pair with him)By now it was getting dark his hands were frozen and unusable when he needed them to use his compass and torch. I was told when he reached the ridge at 3000 ft he could not use his compass or torch and the weather was full on winter conditions.
Having no torch it was now nightfall he was on steep winter ground with cliffs stumbled and fell down the hill. That is the last he remembers. His family phoned the Police when he never called to say he was off the hill and were worried. He had left a route and the local Police located the car.
Due to the information a search was started that night and a the local team and SARDA did a search in wild winter conditions. Extra MRT teams were called in for a first light search. The casualty was located in the Glen early next morning about a mile from the road next to the river bank unconscious in a bad way. He was located near the river bank another foot and he would have been in the river. He was wearing dark clothing it was a great spot by the teams going into there search areas.
I thought that day there was little chance of his survival as he had such a poor pulse etc. There was little we could do try to keep him warm and we got a quick helicopter evacuation that helped save his life.He recovered fully and is alive and well after spending time in hospital.
It’s worth looking back and learning from incidents . I feel there are many lessons from this incident. In my view – He was saved as he had a great back up system: his family knew what hill he was on and his route. He always texted or called when possible on the summit and when he was back at the car. He had kept up the system for nearly 200 Munro’s over many years. The family were great as when he never called in they called the Police.
Points to note
As series of small mistakes added to what happened they built up as the day progressed.
Things went wrong when he took the wrong bearing ( always double check your bearing) especially if on your own.
He left his gloves in the vechile easily done always carry a spare pair especially in winter. When you lose your gloves in winter you use the use of your hands it is nearly impossible to navigate or use your torch.
Bright clothing is so effective if your wearing it on a search a Black and Green jacket maybe environmental friendly but hard to spot in a search if your huddled down or injured .
A few mistakes can cost a lot worth a few thoughts.
Great effort by all involved.
http://www.mountaineering.scot.com has superb advice on mountain safety. Well worth a read
Comments welcome .