It’s that time again and I am lucky enough to be on the West coast. The weather has not been great with a big thaw on plus some heavy rain. Yet it’s a great place to be.
The hills have lost a lot of snow but winter will be back of that I am sure. It happens most seasons so we just have to be patient.
What’s your best memory of a winter day? One of mine was a traverse of the Arran ridges in the late 70’s. Arran holds a special place in my heart as it was one of my first experiences of mountaineering as a very young lad. Previously I had been in the Galloway hills which can be wild in winter but Arran was another level. The ridge in true winter conditions was not supposed to be in often. I could see the hills from my home town in Ayr where I was on leave. I was lucky and had a superb day with a pal. When I got back to Kinloss few appreciated my efforts. They had been looking for a plane that went missing in Mull. The Great Mull Air Mystery is the name given by the media to the disappearance of pilot Peter Gibbs on 24 December 1975 after he took an unscheduled solo night flight from Glenforsa Airfield on the Isle of Mull in Argyll and Bute, Scotland, United Kingdom.
The Arran ridge in places is Alpine and we roped up in a few places. I found it very tricky even though I knew the ridge well. We camped in Glen Rosa and left well before daylight. It was a long day, we were fit but so glad to get back to our tent, exhausted physically and mentally.
Other notable New Year days include a few Call outs in Cairngorms, New Year’s Eve in Glencoe Stob Coire an Lochan and on Ben Nevis that old nightmare place 5 Finger Gully. It used to be a common occurrence for mountaineers to end up there!
I did have a great day with Yvette on Ben Wyvis many years ago. We saw no one and had a blue sky day. I even put her on a wee rope descending the snow was so hard. She will kill me for this photo but it’s one I love.
Over the years there were more incidents for “ vulnerable people” old and young going missing. For many especially nowadays life is so hard so look after those you love. It was another aspect of the job and one rarely spoken about.
It’s strange to me that we spend so much time training and on Call outs for folk we do not know? Yet how often do we look after our own, keep our eyes open for any signs that the “black dog”’( depression is there) no matter how strong we think we are.
Finally a huge thanks to all the Emergency Services and Agencies who are there for us. Many give up family time and it took me many years to appreciate their sacrifices. Time with a young family is something you will never get back.
Families worry about us and few talk about it. It’s a bit better nowadays but never forget those you leave behind at home.
Thank you all for what you all do. In this world that seems to be falling apart the good well out way those who make so called “news” nowadays.
Stay safe, stay well and look after those precious to you.
Happy New year all.