Simple thing that may save your life in the wild places. A whistle.

In these days of mobile phones and Rescue beacons there is still a handy piece of simple kit that to me is invaluable. Yet there is one thing that I have found to still be a wonderful asset if your in trouble in the hills.

The Whistle

There was an ongoing piece on Facebook about the use of the simple whistle in an emergency. I have always been a great exponent of the whistle. I was shocked how few carry them or knew about the Alpine Distress signal. Many had more information on Personal Locater Beacons and other emergency locators . Yet in my mind the simple whistle is still great simple and cheap kit.

I can state on several occasions in my 40 years in Mountain Rescue we have located a casualty due to a whistle. Please carry one there cheap and effective and my tip is keep blowing!

We had a few occasions where we heard them and we replied. We answered them and then they stopped . It then took a few hours to locate the casualty! Not easy in Skye in mist and poor weather. When we heard the whistle again it was an incredible relief to us all . Skye can be a terrifying place in poor weather on steep loose ground. When looking for someone you need every piece of help. That whistle sound will forever be with me.

The Alpine distress signal was introduced in 1894 on the suggestion of Clinton Thomas Dent and was soon adopted internationally.

The reply to such a signal is given with three successive indications per minute and likewise repeated after one minute of break. Thus it can be confirmed to the person/party in trouble that its distress signal was received.

Another tip: I also located some climbers over the years. We heard the whistles on the crag their partner was injured and these whistles were a great asset in locating them. I and the team always carried a whistle on our harness as well. Top tip.

Many will have read of the recent Callout in Skye Feb 2023. A missing person was located after 3 days in a remote area near Coruisk. He had survived some terrible weather and had bad injuries. He was located by the Skye team who heard his whistle. It was a huge search with so many assets employed. SARDA dogs and Skye, Kintail and RAF Lossiemouth MRT plus Police a great result.

So todays tip carry a whistle it’s a cheap back up.

Please tell someone where your going just in case.

As always Comments welcome.

Yes indeed , it’s a small but essential bit of kit. I remember Andy Craig & I were on the Drumochter hills doing Sgarieanch Mhor & Ben Oodleman, but on going down to the bealach we heard a whistle even in the strong wind and the blizzard! It was 2 young chaps standing with their hoods up & the snow building up the backs of their legs like a pair of penguins. I gave them tea from my giant flask & then we roped them down to the car park. ( They were miles off course from the bealach) The sting in the tale is, I discovered when I got home that I’d left my crampons up there when I was getting the flask out. Grrr!! Never mind, the whistle saved 2 young men. Cheers a’charaid, John.

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 Articles, Enviroment, Equipment, Gear, Mountain rescue, mountain safety, Mountaineering, SAR, SARDA, Views Mountaineering, Well being. Bookmark the permalink.

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