1977 – The Call-outs keep coming : Liathach, Loch Avon, Ben Nevis and Ben Dorian. A winter traverse West to East of Scotland

I remember some of these incidents wee. The incident on Liathach in Torridon was when a young ATC cadet fell from the Pinnacles. He was a young ATC guest who was put with the team. Liathach was snow covered and he fell a long way into the remote Coire Caime. The team leader Pete Mc Gowan went straight after him. He was badly injured and in a very remote area. It took hours to get a stretcher in the weather was too poor for helicopter assistance. Troops were recalled by radios of their hills and after doing were a long day it was a hard trudge into the Coire with the a stretcher and first aid gear. It was a long call out, poor communications did not help and what a hard carry out with the stretcher. It was 16 hours to get him of the hill he had some bad injuries to head and neck.

The West – East of Scotland Skye to Mount Keen 1977.

Photo call at start of walk !

1976 The West to East winter Traverse through my notes from what seems another era I looked at my preparations and worries to get ready for a big undertaking then our winter walk in October / November in 1977. These were days of simple gear, no mobiles GPS and the maps I am sure were still inch to the mile?

The idea of a walk across Scotland from West to East in late October/ November with hindsight was crazy, with no support a pretty serious undertaking. My pal Jim Morning and myself had just completed a huge North to South Of Scotland Walk in 1976 in May and along with Paul Burns we had pushed the boat out in the way of hills done. We thought we were ready for an unsupported winter traverse. After speaking to a few people most said go in late March/April making use of the long daylight and reasonable conditions. I never for a moment thought we would plan it for November. This is usually a wild month with various problems. The daylight is very short and the weather can be very unsettled and on this trip it was wild nearly every day. This ended up as a story of “A walk nearly a walk to die for.”

End of walk on Mount Keen knackered.

At the time I was a member of the RAF Kinloss Mountain Rescue Team a young party leader who had just completed his Munros in 1976. The Team was myself Heavy Whalley, Jim Morning (JM) and Terry Moore (TM) this was the first expedition in to attempt a Traverse of Scotland mountains West to East in November. Jim and Terry were just posted in from Stafford and Valley in North Wales , both were incredibly fit and extremely strong mountaineers . This walk was the based on an idea by the late John Hinde, one of the founder fathers of the Big Walks.

1977 Call outs

We completed it despite the incredibly bad weather. At times fighting for our lives and being told to stop the walk due to weather. This was huge learning for the three of us and we learned so much.

The missing civilian helicopter on Loch Avon. This was another epic when a helicopter filming in the Cairngorms went missing and the crew was rescued. Our team leader walking in front Ray Sefton guiding the helicopter in on a foul day.

On the Ben Dorian Callout I met Ian Nicholson from the Glencoe team when we rescued a few climbers from a gully. That was another hard job and the Sea King helicopter came in again in poor conditions and helped greatly.

Casualties brought off by helicopter on a wild day.

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 Aircraft incidents, Articles, Mountain rescue, Mountaineering, People, Scottish winter climbing., Views Mountaineering, Weather, Well being. Bookmark the permalink.

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