Heading home from Glen Clova A glen for all seasons?Memories of past days with the RAF Wessex from Leuchars. Neil Robertson stretchers?

The Glen Clova Hotel was packed the small bar only a few seats the rest were full with meals being served that looked great so I has a quick pint after dinner and back to the bunkhouse. It would be a long night and though 3 had left that evening a day early they had felt that the bothy was so tight to sleep in with 10 bunks in a small place. I had another  restless night and was up early meeting a man from Dundee in the kitchen half asleep with a dram!  He vanished into the night/ morning he was a bit drunk and hard to chat to. The plan was that we also were going home as one of our group was unwell that morning. I looked at the plans for the new accommodation as the bunkhouse was to be renovated in January and it will change beyond belief with no kitchen planned. I think that will mean that only those with cash can now afford it. We paided £20 a night the usual price was £25 and it was warm and dry and had showers but crammed into one room and the kitchen with only a few cups, one kettle and a few bowls was poor. What can you do, 3 left early and have to pay for the night they missed and it sours my memories of a great place. Things change  but I visited this place for many years when at RAF Leuchars and we used to have a great time with the local keepers and climbers.”

A few of the group went for a short walk Joe had walked back to Auchallater over Jocks Road in the thaw carrying all his gear rather than spend another night in the bunkhouse. Yet it was a lovely morning a huge thaw had stripped the hills bare but the sunrise was special.

The drive back was fine the roads black again and the thaw taking snow away at an alarming rate, the A9 was quiet and after a stop at Ballinuig for a bacon and egg roll  it was head for home. We met Elgin City young footballers heading down to Stirling for a match and caught up with an old pal  Graham Tatters  and his pal giving up his Sunday to drive the kids down, it would be along day for them. Getting out of the car the body was sore after the hill day previously I had the” tin man legs”.

Lovely drive back

In all a good weekend and I got my washing done early and gear sorted. Also had a look what gear I can offer away to someone who may use it as winter mountaineering is a costly business. I am amazed what I find that I have hardly used and trying to minimise my gear.

1984 Stampy  awful belay  with Heavy  in the Classic  Look C gully How not to belay?

The hill was great as always and the hard work the long drive and the limited sleep but what a great day on the hill in a superb area that has so many memories. I had a great adventure on the Classic ice climb Look C gully many years ago (1984) when it was not really in good condition. I ended up climbing as a 3 as my partner ran off he did not fancy it and was with Grahan Stampyand Dave Tomkins. Most of the others had abseiled off due to conditions but my mate Dave Tomkins lead the crux a wild pitch on thawing ice, poor belays in the dark by head torch. We pushed on and the top was very avalanche prone and I was so glad to get to the relative safety of the fence line on the plateau. Then we had to get off it was a long night and the gear was still frozen when we arrived off the hill and took ages too get off. We got to the pub just after closing time but it stayed open and we had a grand night. That was another special night and many others climbing mainly in winter in these two Corries where many were introduced to winter climbing.

Loch Brandy

We used to stay in the Youth Hostel Squash Court it was freezing especially in the winter the temperature was well below zero and the only warm place was in your sleeping bag. Now I moan about a 10 man room in the heat?  The helicopter from 22 Sqn RAF Leuchars used to use this area for training as it have everything with winter corries and summer cliffs for winching. We also used to do some winter skills with the aircrew in winter corrie and helicopter drop offs were grand, sometimes even to Lochnagar or Creag an Dubh Loch. The Wessex would at times park near the Hotel and have lunch using the Hotel phone as a contact in the days before mobile phones. In the bar there is still an old Neil Robertson stretcher a last memory from another era?

The Neil Robertson Stretcher a memory of another era of the helicopter.

I have so many tales a few that can never be told but what a stunning glen, lots of wild life and fauna and great hills that offer so much more the summits of the popular Munros, Corbetts and tops. The area has a few aircraft crashes that can make a navigation day a bit more interesting and worth a look round if you fancy something different as is the great glen walks and the wander into Corrie Fee or Winter Corrie. The forestry has lots of tracks ideal for mountain bilking and the summer rock-climbing is great fun with most of it roadside unusual for Scotland.

Glen Clova a glen for all Seasons?

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Glen Clova – Mayar and Driesh and the Scorrie an interesting descent.

I am staying in the Glen Clova  we were staying in the Clova Hotel Bunkhouse sadly the bunk house is getting renovated in January and despite being warm it was lacking in some basics. The night was a long one with 10 bunks crammed into a small room and it was very hot and noisy. I hardly slept and was up early and hoping to be away by 0800 as the daylight is short in early December.  We had a guide to the conditions as one of our member’s Joe had walked over from Jock road via 4 Munro’s getting in at 2200 talking of some deep drifts in places, that was some walk carrying all his gear. I lost a bit of time in the morning as I lost my keys and had 30 mins of panicking till I found them. Then it was off with a group of 6 for the Munros – Dreish and Mayar – a fine winters day.

Glen Clova early morning light at a break in the forestry. This was before the Bear Ghyrls bit due to my chatting.

Glen Clova is a bonnie glen heavily conifirised with the hills all around and a newly improved pay for car park £2 a car (2017) was where we started off.  We had decided to take the Kilbo path onto the tops but missed the path ( me chatting) the forestry roads and footpath can be confusing ( Cameron McNeish The Munros)but managed to located it again after a bit of Bear Ghrylls through the forestry. We met another group from the club here with Dan taking his skis up onto the summits. Once outside the forestry we took the old Kilbo path which takes a lovely line traversing up the Shank Of Drumfallow. It was warm going and soon we were in the snow and Dan got his skis out.

Dan on the Kilbo path with his skis. Hardy man.

The path gains effortlessly to the beleach  we stooped on the way up and enjoyed the view we were out now in among the hills and the long night was forgotten. At the top  we had a break and enjoyed the winters sun and i put on my small warm jacket and we spent time here, the views were stunning. The forestry and the snow give the area some scale and on the plateau it was in places a winter wonderland and though cold at times it was the place to be.

Heading up the Kilbo path with the views behind stunning.

The snow was mainly blown off the plateau but was icy in places but no problem. We had a variety of experience with us in hills and it was Nathan’s first Munro. He was out with his Mum Dianne and was wearing lightweight boots so we would have to be careful where we went especially on the descent.

It is difficult to choose a day even in great weather in winter as snow conditions change during the day. They had also been loaned crampons by the club but with them being the old adjustable type that needed a spanner ( not available)  we would look at that later. I have been lucky to go out often 40 years plus in winter with the Mountain Rescue with family and friends where we all have good gear. I could usually make up shortfalls so it is another experience being out with a club where the experience and equipment varies, it ca be a hard call at times.

2017 the winter snows sculptured by the wind on the way out to  the Munro Mayar . Surely we should let people enjoy this experience?

From the top of the beleach it was easy walking out to the summit of Mayar at 928 metres I usually follow the line of the cliffs where the great Correi Fee and its hidden treasures wait in winter. Sadly it was not to be as it was the Munros we were doing today and I caught a glimpse of some ice on the top of the cliffs and memories of some winter fun in the Corrie. There are a few classic winter lines here and it was well used in my days at RAF Leuchars where on reaching the top of the cliffs in bad weather this can be an inhospitable place with no shelter.

2017 top of world December.

It was a bit windy on the top we had a quick break then we met a few others as we descended. The views were magic the vast scenery in places bare of snow and others in the hollows looking white we could see so many hills but time was moving and it was already midday so we headed back. In winter it is best to keep moving especially in early winter and I carry some food in my pockets to snack on if the time is running short ( Top tip)

 

An old Mountain Rescue Team mate Dave Rogerson who I met on the descent.  Thanks for the advice on the Scorrie?

I met an old pal on the way back and we caught up for a few minutes then headed of Dave had come up via the Scorrie a steep way up our next Munro Driesh and I was hoping to maybe come down this way he said it was fine but a bit snowy?

2017  Dec a break at bealach Driesh in the back ground a lot less snowy.

We had plenty of time and Nathan wanted another Munro so of we went up Driesh doing a bit of navigation on the way in the easy conditions. Driesh was the name of my dog Teallachs Mum and means a lot to me as does this area and it was a day to enjoy and everyone was going well.

1979 Dreish my dogs Mum on way to a call -out on Ben Lui for a missing aircraft. Travelling by Hercules aircraft.

It was good to get the map out and have a bit of map reading and the odd bearing and simple pacing, we were soon at the top and the views were wild. We could see the East Coast and had a break in the wind at the top. It was then head down by the Scorrie where we met a another group coming up. They said it was also fine so we headed on. It is good to get winter walkers used to descending steep snowy ground as this is what you get in most winters and the last few have been pretty snowless. I also try to get crampons on at some time of the day if conditions allow as it gives some experience of using them rather in some steep dodgy place.

2017 heading down from the summit of Driesh to the Scorrie.

It was an easy descent along the top of the Scorrie which leads to the cliffs of Corrie Winter an another fun winter climbing area and again there was ice near the waterfall just of the top of the corries. The views down the Glen were superb.

2017 top of winter Corrie with great views down the Glen. Ice forming on the top waterfall but a big thaw was starting.

The ground was great till we started to descend and I looked for a good route down but was wary of the lightweight boots on the now thawing wet snow and grass.  It was a bit of searching for a better way off and I was soon on the very basic path but it was steep and some of the others did not fancy it and decided to go back the same way over the Munro again and down the Kilbo path  I left them no one else fancied it and Alaister and Babs “volunteered” to go back with them and I headed down it was steep but with my axe and taking care I was down on the main path in the forestry in 30 minutes. It was definitely thawing on the way off and the wet snow and odd patch of ice made it careful going. I looked over and saw another party following me on a bit steeper ground, they also got down okay.

 

I was down by 1530 and the rest came off in the dark safely about 2 hours later with their head torches on. Maybe I should have said that it may be steep on the way off down the Scorrie but it all ended up okay. Everyone had a map and can read them?  It did make me think about a few things and I look and see  if I can find a pair of boots to fit I have Nathan for a donation to Mountain Rescue. It is also worth thinking what everyone is wearing and lightweight boots on steep wet grass are not ideal. We learn every day. Gear is so expensive and hard to start winter mountaineering if you are a newcomer in the winter.

The Steep descent of the Scorrie ?

Thanks to Alaister and Babs for getting the rest back and I had a bit of fun descending and a bit of time to think by a big boulder as the sun was drawing down. I had a pal Doug Lang who was killed nearby in an avalanche in 2013, a great Scottish mountaineer sadly missed and as always a warning even after a great day how these hills though so accessible can catch you out. Doug had done many of Scotland’s great routes and lots of first ascents in including the classic B Gully chimney in the nearby Coire Fee a Cold climbs Classic that he out up in 1962 with D Crabbe. He was found by a good friend and his dog from SARDA and the Tayside MRT a tragic end to such a a man.    I would not have liked to have come down the Scorrie on a wild  winters night as we did in years gone by  after a route maybe I am getting older and wiser?

I had a shower some soup and was sorted when the others came in, the tea was made.Looking back Nathan had 2/3 new Munros and had learned a bit as had I. There maybe a pair of boots that will  fit you in my basement Nathan for a small donation to charity?

Todays tip – check your crampons fit and if lending out winter gear ensure that you fit the crampons to the boots before you go? Maybe this is why I enjoy going out on my own less hassle?    Mr Selfish?

Comments welcome

 

 

 

 

 

 

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A weekend at Glen Clova, a fair drive but well worth it.

I was out with the Moray Mountaineering Club to Glen Clova na old haunt of mine when I was with RAF Leuchars Mountain Rescue (LMRT). It was a short drive in these days and a magic Glen approach to Clova. We used to climb here in the summer on the crags and get the magic of winter in the wild Corries with some incredible ice routes usually away from the crowds. It also had a superb pub and was a great social scene and we had many great nights in the past and also a few call -outs. We had a few family days with my step kids enjoying some great days on the two Munros Mayar and Dreish and so many great hills about. It is near Dundee and can get busy with the easy access in the summer.  In winter this is a wild part of Scotland and sadly the high passes Jock’s road that take you to Breamar  have taken a toll over the years.

The Black Cloud

The book the Black Cloud by I.D.S Thomson has a chapter on ” the loss of 5 men on Jock’s Road in 1959 it is a sad reminder how wild this area can be and is worth a read? 

2017 Dec drive to Glen Clova

I had heard how it had changed with the Glen Clova Hotel now refurbished.  It was no longer a quick drive to Glen Clova living in the far North Of Scotland  I decided to leave early I had my last injection at the doctors on Friday so picked up my two pals Derek and Babs. The weather forecast was still some blocked roads on the East so we drove via the A9. It was a long drive via the A9  but it was  clear and then through Blairgowrie to Clova a bit of snow had fallen but the roads were clear.The drive along the Glen to Clova was stunning with the hills clear and in winter with the snow it is a special place. It always reminds me of the Lake District as the roadside crags are so similar as are the stunning peaks!

We arrived at Bunkhouse at Clova Hotel and it is sadly due renovation being run down -It was very tight accommodation the 10 man dorm  in a small room with toilets but it was warm and good showers. The kitchen was also running down with one kettle 6 cups and a few bowls but again warm ! There have been massive changes since I had been here with LMRT over the years. The Hotel was packed with Grouse shooters and was a big change from the past! Meals were being served all the time and this is now fairly upmarket! 

We unpacked and had an hour of daylight and managed a short walk and checking the road to the main car park was clear. Again it has all changed with a new build information Centre there! Wandered up the track for an hour past the old Youth Hostel with its classic Squash Court where we used to stay with the Mountain Rescue and had a wander just as darkness was falling about 1630. The track was icy and there were a few cars in the car park and at least we had arrived no rush unlike the others that were driving after work a good 3 hour drive!

We  made tea and had a few pints in a very busy bar with food looking great and at a fair price.  It was full of the hunting shooting fraternity as their was a big shoot on  and the Hotel was busy with a huge business in meals all evening.  The poor pheasants were jumping out all the way up the road to Clova you did not need a gun! The other members of the group about 12 arrived with Joe one of the club walking over from Auchallater and 3 –  4 Munros  down of Mayar with his gear for the weekend!  Oh to be young Crazy man.

I had a few pints of Guinness then back for an awful night in the Bothy with the bunks crammed in and  with 10 people maybe I am too old for this ! The heat was incredible and few slept that night! 

In winter especially early December you have to be away early  I had planned the two Munros Mayar and Driesh in the morning trying to be away for 0800. 

 

Sent from my iPhone

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Farewell to Nigel Williams at Glenmore Lodge and off to Glen Clova for the weekend.

I have just noticed that one of the stalwarts of Glenmore Lodge leaves this weekend. Nigel is Head of Training at Glenmore Lodge and helped many of us over the years.  His short “bio” at the Lodge website is impressive:

“Expeditions to far flung places, base commander for the Island of South Georgia for a few months in 1982, 2 trips to Everest reaching 8000m without oxygen 3 times! Summiting Pung Pa Ri 7,500m in Tibet (2nd ascent and new route). A ski crossing of Greenland following Nansen’s original route. Nordic skiing – on tracks or touring provides the escape from the office.”

Nigel-Williams photo Glenmore Lodge.

I have known Nigel for many years and he was always  available with sound advice over the years and a few of my pals knew him from various military expeditions in the past always sung his praises. All the best for the future Nigel no doubt we will bump into each other again.

Glen Clova is a place I know well as it was a haunt that we used at RAF Leuchars MRT. It was very handy and a close drive from the camp. It is a Glen that has everything with some great roadside rock climbs and a lot of winter climbing when the conditions come in. It always reminded me of the Lake district. The roads look interesting and it will be a long drive to Glen Clova maybe go by the A9?

We had a few great days in the Corries in winter and there are a few classic winter lines that always gave an interesting day! The photo below is of the  Classic Look C gully in the Corrie and a crazy belay.

We also used to grab a few routes in the summer as well crags midweek or on an afternoon off! I have great memories of Clova ! The rock climbing was superb and never disappointed ! It was also a place to take the family a short drive and some long walks.

 

There also used to be a small memorial on Dreish to Ali  Barber one of the RAF Leuchars Mountain Rescue Team who was killed descending Mont Blanc in 1977.

 

 

 

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Happy St Andrews Day – Everest bothy remissness Tales from a bothy.

This article was published in the Mountain Bothy Association Newsletter.  

Happy St Andrews Day

Tales from a Bothy – “The Shed” (A wee bothy high on the Tibetan side of Everest) May – June 2001

 

Room with a view

My first memories of bothying were in the early Sixties as a member of the Boys Brigade. I was making up the numbers on the Duke Of Edinburgh Award staying at Back Hill of the Bush in Galloway. The smell of wood and smoke, beans and sausage will stay with you forever and you always remember that first experience.  As the youngest and smallest (I was given the most kit to carry, nothing changes) and enjoyed the crack so much I was hooked.  Mountains and Bothies became my life, which has taken me all over the world.

The Flags go up

I have been very fortunate to visit the Himalayas on several occasions and also to visit the highest mountain in the world. During 2001 I visited Everest from the North, the Tibetan side on a 3-month trip as a member of the RAF Mountain Rescue North Ridge Expedition. It was a fantastic trip in which we managed to get 2 team members to the summit and all get back safe and well (even more important). In between we carried out 3 rescues one at over 8000 metres for one of our own team, who was very ill. It was a magic trip, a successful expedition and the experience of a lifetime. Tibet is a wonderful place and what an adventure just getting to the Base camp.

Incredible place in between the trips high up.

Previous trips by friends to the West Ridge of Everest had been extremely hard as the winds and dust get everywhere and the constant noise of the wind during stormy spells makes resting at altitude very hard indeed. Base Camp on any big mountain should be as comfortable as possible, which is not easy to achieve in tents.  One of our team had wintered in Antarctica, and he convinced us of the benefits of taking out a substantial Communal Base Tent, hence the idea of the “Shed” was born. He had had two wild trips to the North side of Everest, where the weather and winds from the Tibetan Plateau made life very hard at Base Camp (BC). We had a plan, “The Shed” this was a wooden prefabricated shed made by a local company Robertsons in Scotland put together by bolts. The shed was transported curtsey of RAF Hercules to Kathmandu and then by vehicle to Everest Base camp at over 17500 feet. This is where the fun started; at altitude everything is very difficult, things have to be taken very slowly. The “Lego Shed” arrived safe and the boys put the shed up the next day. This caused much amusement of all at Base Camp. The politics game had to be played just like in Scotland where problems can arise with a difficult landowner whose land and bothy we use! Some of the top mountaineers said there would be no chance of getting permission to put up the Shed. The Chinese Liaison Officer whose word is final, controlled the Base camp area, after a few drams and the odd bottle he agreed permission to us putting the shed up. This amazed all the other expeditions at Base camp chance of getting permission to put up our shed. Politically we had to purchase a Chinese flag and fly it above our flags; it was game of “hearts and minds” at a cost of a $100  everything has a price

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The locals loved it!

The local Tibetans were amazed when the Shed was up and we were the focal point for most of the expeditions during our stay. The comfort inside was amazing and once the door was shut at night it was a peaceful place. At various times during poor weather and disasters on the mountain, (there were 2 deaths when we were there) we all returned to Base Camp and spent some unbelievable nights in the Shed. It was amazing how the altitude affects the alcohol intake but we had some nights reminiscing of nights in the bothies at home. We were great friends with the Russians and various other expeditions and we had several wild nights with them during the bad weather. It was great to see how well everyone got on; we even had a bothy book to sign. I wonder where it went?

Wild weather

The Shed was an oasis of peace at times during the various epics that occurred on the mountain.  Two friends from a Russian and a New Zealand expedition, died high on the mountain and the Shed was used on many occasions to bring people together after such sad events.  At the end we were the last people on the mountain as we tried to get one more shot at another summit attempt. The weather was awful and we were lucky to get off the mountain without the loss of any of our team.  I was the last of our team down from Advanced Base Camp at 21500 feet. The Sherpas and I brought down 50 Yak Loads of rubbish left by other expeditions at a personal cost of $500, where did the environment levy go . How can people treat such a majestic place in such a way? It reminded me of when we used to go round the popular bothies at the end of winter with the helicopter bringing back rubbish left by similar minded people in my own country. At least we tried and left the place a lot better thanks to our Sherpas and the local Tibetan Yak herders, who transported it, back to Base Camp.

Russel Brice and the BOYS GIVE THE Shed to the locals.

It was decided to give the Shed to the local Tibetans to use as an eye hospital further down the Rongbook Glacier. At the end of the expedition we presented it to one of the local Tibetans’ the first local to reach the summit.  This was a fitting end to the “Shed” our Everest Bothy and a long way from these early days at Back Hill of the Bush!

Heavy Whalley

 

A few years later I was honoured to speak at the Mountain Bothies Association 50 th Anniversary (MBA) in Newtonmore.

 

1973 Backhill bothy Galloway

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Ben Humble a true Mountaineer and early Mountain Rescue and Safety pioneer.

I was looking through some old photos and found this photo of the late Ben Humble (1903 – 1977) was a prolific author and a noted Scottish climber who was a pioneer of Scottish Mountain Rescue. As a member of the Scottish Mountaineering Club he was very involved in mountain Safety. I went to a couple of his lectures on mountain safety in my early years and they were an eye opener to a young climber.  He had a way of speaking and went through the accidents very graphically with a bit of a bias on the Scots climbers. He would spaek and at times let out a huge aaaaaaah at times.  He was the compiler of the Accident Stats  for 30 years for Scotland and could be very critical in his analysis of an accident, especially of English climbers  but I am sure that was part of his sense of humour.   He was also a keen photographer and film maker. During the war he produced several educational films in order to support the war effort. Ben  Humble and was born in Dumbarton in 1903 he loved the Arrochar area and spent much time exploring the hills near his home.. Despite his total deafness he became a dentist, later making advances in Forensic Dentistry.  A biography of his life, “The Voice Of The Hills – The Story Of Ben Humble” was written by his nephew Roy Humble in 1995.

Ben liked the RAF Mountain Rescue Teams and always enjoyed their company. He was treated as a bit of a celebrity by us. He enjoyed taking the “micky out” of the younger guys especially me. John Hinde another legend at the time was a great friend of Ben and was always ensuring that Ben was looked after. Ben would tell us young lads some great stories especially about remote howfs that he knew that may be worth a visit. Great memories.

It was Skye that Ben loved  as a young man he went to Skye with a friend no easy task in these early days. By accident the young men had stumbled upon John Mackenzie – the famous Cuillin mountain guide after whom the peak of Sgurr Mhic Coinnich was named by his climbing partner of many years, Norman Collie. Mackenzie, though born a crofter at Sconser, had climbed every peak in the Cuillin – some for the first time – and had, with Collie and others, pioneered rock-climbing in Skye. It was Mackenzie’s encouragement,Ben says, that gave them the courage to “leave the road” and embark upon mountaineering. After traversing the Trotternish Ridge and the Quirang, Ben Humble and his pal went to Glen Brittle and climbed Sgurr Alasdair – beginning a love affair with Skye and the Cuillin that would last Humble’s life, and lead in due course to his publication of “The Cuillin of Skye”. That lay more than two decades ahead. What a man. They do not make characters like this any-more.

There is a small plaque at Glenmore Lodge beside the Alpine garden where Ben spent so much time in his later years. it states “In memory of Ben Humble, MBE, who created this Alpine garden in the shadow of the hills he loved so well. A pioneer of mountain rescue in Scotland and for many years a voluntary instructor at Glenmore Lodge – 16-4-77″

1977 Ben Humble – Pete Mc Gowan RAF Kinloss Team Leader and the late Ben Humble a pioneer of Scottish Mountain Rescue. This was the night myself and Tom MacDonald had completed out Munro’s 1976.  This was about a year before Ben passed away. It was a great privilege to meet Ben Humble, what a character!

This is from the SMC Journal in 1947 when Ben put together an accident list.

Incidents 1925 -1945 Total Involved-  106 Fatalities – 45

This is a precis of a survey of the late Ben Humbles Survey on Mountain Accidents from the period 1925 – 1945 . It is an incredible piece of work and shows the early days of Rescue in Scotland when the Scottish Mountaineering Club, climbers and locals were heavily involved in Rescue. It was the norm for climbers to assist in Rescues and at times parties of experienced climbers were sent from Glasgow and Edinburgh on a regular basis.

This is from the final summary:

In pre – war times First aid post were maintained at Glen Brittle, Fort William and Clachaig in Glencoe more than half the accidents in the survey occurred in these areas. The rest were fairly widely dispersed and a reasonable inference from the available statistics  would be that there is little need for post elsewhere?

In the climbing season there are usually sufficient climbers in Glen Brittle to carry out any necessary rescues. As regards Glencoe and Ben Nevis in pre – war times a call for help usually came in to the Glasgow/ Edinburgh officials of the club (Scottish Mountaineering Club) SMC who had the task of getting together the rescue parties!  Ben also states it is good to see that the Fort William folk themselves at last getting to know the mountains which have meant so much to the town. The recently formed Lochaber Mountaineering Club now  a section of the JMCS has already been tested and not found wanting in rescue operations. This allows the Glasgow officials  of the SMC will heave a sigh of relief!  The early days of the foundation of Lochaber MRT. (See my blog 13 August 2013 on the formation of Lochaber MRT.)

Nowadays there will be climbing parties in Glencoe almost every weekend throughout the year. For a Saturday or Sunday search or rescue there need no difficulty to get a party together but for mid-week days it will not be easy, when most people are unable to get away from work. Now that all the younger climbing clubs are co operating and full details of the available transport  and personnel are listed , this difficulty may be overcome?  Imagine the Climbing clubs doing this today and the problems they would face over Insurance etc?

Ben Humble is this Survey has a real go at the press, remember this was written in 1947

” In pre – war times owing chiefly to the sensational way the press treat mountaineering the general public get a warped idea of the sport of mountaineering! He then quotes from an article in the Daily Herald of an incident in Glencoe that was sensationalized beyond all recognition of what really happened!  After this and similar accidents articles and letters would follow condemning climbing as too dangerous! Some even suggested restrictions including the closure of Ben Nevis in winter! (Some things do not change?) Work was done with the press and a saner voice was heard about Mountain Safety, get fit for the hills: then go and enjoy them. Ben stated that the Statistics proved beyond all doubt that it is much safer to be a climber than a pedestrian, a cyclist or a motorist. Ben also states that over half the accidents could have been avoided had those involved taken more precautions  and fitted themselves for the hills?

Ben finished with the fact that in the coming years greater numbers than ever will flock to our hills. He states that it is good that various organisations are offering training in mountain craft and the mountaineering clubs are co – operating. It is hoped that newcomers to our sport will take advantage of these opportunities and that unnecessary hill accidents will be reduced. Education, Education, Education!

Ben Humble was a true man of vision! So much of this survey is still relevant today! The SMC Journals are a wonderful piece of Scottish Mountaineering History and has some unique articles and it is a huge source of reference. The early days of Mountain Rescue are well documented and it hold the Statistics of Mountain accidents that are invaluable for research and education.  This is the only source of  Accident Statistics from the early days as far as I know? The journal is published annually well worth a read, it is due out soon and has so many new climbs and great articles inside.

I met Ben Often and visited him in Aviemore with John Hinde and others as he was getting old and frail yet what a wealth of knowledge he left us. I wonder how he would feel today about how things are?

 

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On my Mum’s Anniversary – How I still miss my Mum.

Sadly I never got my Mum’s good looks.

This is the anniversary of my Mum’s passing she died in 1980 I still miss her every day she was as all Mum’s area a special lady.  She was the minister’s wife and worked so hard for the Church throughout her life which was never easy. As the youngest of 5 children I was spoiled in every way, always in a scrape or trouble and being a Ministers son a bit of a rebel.

957 Whalley Family Grandpa

Mum was always there for me and we had a great bond through her love and care! She loved her family, their kids, the church, the mountains, football the tennis and dedicated her life to her family her grandchildren and as always the church. Money was tight but we never wanted for love and she brought us all up almost single handed as Dad pursued his life as a minister. In these days he visited most of his congregation at night and we hardly saw him. During my wild years my Mum saw something in me Mum’s do and as I grew up we got a lot closer! When I went and joined the RAF she loved that I was in Mountain Rescue  though she worried about me daily as only Mum’s can do! We spoke every week on the phone as most of my leave was spent chasing mountains I was a rare visitor! All these years on I can never get these times back and like many regret my selfishness but that can be what happens when you work so far from home.  I wonder how many who read this sadly feel the same?

When mum got ill with Leukaemia she never told me till a few days before she passed away and only then I was summoned home. Yet we has spoken every week, she hid it as did the family. She did not want me worried as I was in a relationship and now in North Wales as full – time Mountain Rescue my life was so busy, so I thought. I rushed home on the train arriving in the early morning and walked with my dog from Kilmarnock to Ayr money was tight. I was shocked poor Mum was so frail and yet every week on the phone she never said a thing or complained and just listened to me and gave me advice. Poor Mum I later found out was in terrible pain for a long time but never moaned, she was incredible during these last few months. She told me  to get my brother back from Bermuda and she died shortly after he arrived home. We got some special time two days together near the end and she was so upset she told me that she had little to leave us a monetary sense. Yet she had given us a lifetime of love and care and that is what matters. In this modern life I despair at times when I families ripped apart after a loved ones death over money and possessions. To me love, care and kindness is the greatest gift ever that parents can bestow on their kids.

mum road to Rannoch 1938-001

The next few short days were awful and I think I was programmed to seeing so many tragedies in the mountains that it took me years to realise what had happened. Even at the funeral I was like a robot and had to rush back to work next day to North Wales. How I miss her and wish I could have done more for her and when in trouble or down she is still always still there for me! Sadly it took me many years to grieve for her.

1963 mum Ben path on our day up Ben Nevis xxx

She was such a beautiful person in every aspect who loved us all yet had time to guide and be there for us. I shared so many secrets with her over my life and she was always there to listen when I needed! How she would have loved to see her grandchildren and their kids now. I would have loved her to have met all the great Grandchildren and Lexi and Ellie Skye and shared their lives! I also got some of her good points I hope the love flowers from my Mum so every few weeks I buy some or pick them and they always remind me of her. I have her deep love of the wild places and still feel her with me when out and about, sadly what would she have made of today’s world, I wonder? She loved her tennis and would have been so proud of Andy Murray and his brother in the tennis world and I believe she watches them in heaven and is praying for Andy to get well. I have had a few near misses in life in the mountains and I am sure she was there with me giving me that extra drive and push to get out of a situation.

Please give your Mum and Dad a hug or a visit or a call we all owe them so much they make us who we are. Mum I miss you as we all do thanks for being there for me. I am off to get some flowers for the house and for my friend Wendy, she reminds me so much of you every way.

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