In the 50’s when National Service was mandatory a few climbers were posted to RAF Kinloss in the UK the Mountain Rescue Team in Morayshire in the North of Scotland.
As the team trained most weekends at various Base Camps all over the North of Scotland. A few were climber’s from all over UK and their experience was needed by the team.
I was brought up on tales of these climbs and the legendary climbers of that era. In my day it was the first and last route on the Ben were Kinloss routes. La Petite 600 ft Grade 3 and Bob Run on the Brenva Face again I Clough. D Pipes and party 10 Feb 1959. Other routes like Salom grade 2/3 900 foot route on the Brenva Face 6 Jan 1959 are great routes. I have a film by Hamish MacInnes of the second ascent of Cresta again on the Brenva Face filmed over several days it’s a classic and Cresta is a great route. Other routes on the Brenva Face include Frostbite 900 foot grade 3 in 1958.
Many of the Kinloss Team put up new routes all over Scotland during these days . In many places there is a Kinloss Route a few namned after there team . Climbs in a few mountains like Kinloss Gully VS 4c on Eastern Buttress Stron Na Ciche in Skye in Glencoe And Polldubh on High Crag Kinloss Grooves VS 4c and Glencoe Kinloss Corner HS Central Buttress North Face of the Buachaille . Yet it’s on the North Face of Ben Nevis that the team made its mark. There were some great climbers about then like Ian Clough and D Pipes. I was always interested in the Kinloss team history and would ask the older members about these legends. When I ran the Winter Course on Ben Nevis we would climb many of the routes telling the team members of there history.
The Classic Waterfall Gully on Carn Dearg was climbed over 2 days by KMRT in 1959. By D. Pipes, I Clough, R Shaw and A Flegg. Of course in 1959 a very controversial ascent of Point 5. This was a sieged ascent of this long standing problem. A very controversial ascent at the time. Clough, Alexander, Pipes, Shaw and others. (Cold climbs )
There are many other routes on Ben Nevis by the team including Winter chimneys Clough and my good pal Ray Sunshine Sefton. Comb Gully Buttress, Central gully Creag Choire na Ciste plus several routes in Castle Coire. In all a lot of routes on this great mountain.
The gear was pretty basic in these days crampons and cut down axes very little gear for belaying or protection. There kit was very basic then so if you climb these routes with your modern axes, crampons and various protection. Add into it the modern clothing and guide books it was all so different.
Sadly Ian Clough was killed on Annapurna. I sadly never met him but Hamish MacInnes always spoke highly about him. He was a caring man and a wonderful instructor. Many of the Kinloss Mountain Rescue team who climbed with him have so many tales of these days. I hope some who may read this will get back to me. Imagine being a young member of the team who get a new route climbed on Ben Nevis.