I am heading up to the Crask Inn a way up North to the Assynt Mountain Rescue Dinner the Crask Inn in Sutherland it is a long way to go but aim doing a wee talk after there Christmas dinner. The Assynt Team is another great bunch of people the area it covers is huge Caithness and Sutherland. This area has some incredible hills and the team works in a lightly populated area where team members some times have to travel huge distances for Rescues. The team not only has some wonder mountains like Suiliven Quinag and Stac Polly but also the remote Munros Ben More Assynt and Conival and of course Ben Hope. In addition there are so many more mountains, sea stacks like The Old Man Of Stoer and the great cliffs of Fionaven and Seanna Bhraigh Assynt also has several Caves up near Assynt and works with the Cave Rescue covering any emergencies in these wild places. The Assynt team cover this incredible area and work so hard raising money to finance the team this is so very hard in such a low populated area. This is why this team mean a lot to me, I have watched and worked with them over many years and always admired the way they cope with this huge area. This is Mountain Rescue at its best great people and so dedicated.
When I was the Team Leader at RAF Leucharsh in the late 80,s I worked with the then Assynt Team Leader Phil Jones we became good friends. We shared ideas and I was impressed how this team with such a huge area and a team that was so diverse worked . We also spent time on the hill together and climbed a few routes in this great place. When we were up in Lochinver it was always a good night and Phil became a very good friend of the Team. I was running our annual RAF Winter Course in Grantown On Spey when a message came through that their had been an accident on Seanna Bhraigh . This was in the days before mobile phones and the news spread like wildfire through the Rescue community. It was a huge shock everyone and I was devastated when I was told it was Phil who had been killed in an accident whilst training with the Assynt Team. It was Feb 3 rd 1991 and Phil was caught in an slab avalanche it was a tragic time for the family and the team. I went to the funeral in Lochinver it was a very sad day and one I will never forget. The Assynt team after the accident were shocked but continued on despite the loss of their leader. These were hard years for the team but as always the team rose to every challenge.
Nowadays it is amazing to see how the team has grown and with Sue as the current Team Leader life seems good for Assynt MRT. It should be a good night up in the wilds of Sutherland and I am sure we will all have a fun night!