Please remember that the Mountain Rescue Teams rely mainly on donations to exist.

After the wonderful work done by the Rescue Teams last week please never forget that all the teams rely mainly on donations to continue to exist.

This especially true of the teams in the far North that have little population to fundraise.

Assynt Mountain Rescue

https://www.justgiving.com/assyntmrt

Dundonnell. Mrt

http://www.dmrt.org.uk/how-to-donate-to-dmrt.html

I have seen that a few folk are going to donate to the teams please do and it will help greatly.

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Winter Mountaineering boots? Get a grip?

Boots

from Mountaineering Scotland website

https://www.mountaineering.scot/activities/mountaineering/winter-mountaineering/getting-started/boots

This is a great free website well worth a read and the video explains it all.

Which boots for winter mountaineering?

Boots are probably the most important item of winter equipment. The type of boots you use should vary depending on the terrain and under foot conditions you expect to encounter.

It is not the case that one pair of boots will be good for every situation you might find yourself in in the mountains. As an extreme example, a summer walk in the Pentland Hills on dry, grassy terrain will require very different footwear to ascending a Munro in winter conditions.

You need to choose your footwear carefully, as secure footwork is essential for safe mountain travel. To put this into context, around one quarter of mountain rescue incidents are as a direct result of someone taking a slip in the wrong place and becoming injured.

In summer conditions a flexible fabric or leather boot with a Vibram sole is recommended. Some folk will be happy to use approach shoes, but remember they will have little or no ankle support.

Wearing rigid-soled boots for ice climbing. (The crampons are C2)

In winter, however, underfoot conditions can be very challenging. Stiff-soled boots provide the security you need, with rigid side edges and toes for creating secure footsteps and holding a crampon. On slopes which are of sufficient angle for a slip to become a fall or an uncontrollable slide, stiff soled boots are more secure because the side edges and toes are more effective at creating secure footsteps.

To make the purchase of the correct type of boot easier, a ‘rating’ system has been established, and all good outdoor retailers will use this system.

Choosing the boots and crampons

From the storeroom at Glenmore Lodge: advice on the differences between boots and how to choose the right boot for your activity – and how to choose the right crampons to fit.

Recently I have been out with some folk on the hill wearing there lightweight summer boots many that cannot take a crampon. Sadly some have bought crampons that are not right for the boots. I find that hard as most outdoor shops will advise you correctly especially if you take your boots in as well.

Many crampons now need the heel of the boot indented to have to be able to take a quick release crampons.

Lots of folk like the light weight boots so much as I do you that you wear them till they are no longer fit for purpose ! Or until they feel that they can get away with them in winter as there does not look much snow and ice about.

In summer I wear lightweight boots and even my running shoes. In winter I wear my winter boots I need them on the varying conditions that occur from wet skippy grass to hard snow.

When looking at a few boots that folk were wearing especially the well worn ones the soles were worn out as well. In winter or wet grass this can be lethal so why don’t you check your boots and there soles and tread. If unsure ask ?

I am hoping to get some advice on winter Mountaineering boots especially for the lassies. I am asked regularly about this but sadly it’s a bit lost to me especially what boots and price you may have to pay . This is not for technical ice just winter Mountaineering.

Boots for winter Mountaineering have changed so much they are so much lighter and comfortable yet they take a crampon easily and are well worth the expense.

I know what it’s like as I have always had trouble with my feet and still have to work to get my boots sorted but even with modern boots they still are hard to wear at times. If I get a pair and I am happy I buy another pair if they are still around.

Many of friends just taking up winter Mountaineering want a good winter walking boot that will take a crampon and that you can kick steps up snow in any ideas or advice ?.

It’s hard telling folk that their summer boots are not so good in winter .To many it’s costs but what price a slip or injury.

Yet it’s still well worth looking at the tread on the soles and how your crampons fit and if they have had it get some new ones.

Maybe time to retire your boots !

Posted in Articles, Equipment, Friends, Gear, mountain safety, People, Scottish winter climbing., Views Mountaineering | Leave a comment

The connection of Steve Perry, Ben Hope and an small insight a part of the man.

I received this through my blog and it a lovely tribute to Steve Perry and gives you an insight into who he was.

I am sorry that I did not know Steve but I had heard of his exploits and what a good Mountaineer and good man he was .

Many thank to L.M for allowing me to publish this .

L.M

“I put this together, as kindred spirit of big hill walks, to tell something of the connection between Steve Perry and Ben Hope.

I can offer nothing but sadness at his and Andy Nisbet’s tragic passing on that mountain.

Rochdale was Steve’s hometown, but he lived most of his life in Todmorden ( a town on the route of the Pennine Way).
In March 1999, Steve walked the Pennine Way , and on day 2, climbing Black Hill, he met another walker, Chris Booker. They stayed together for the rest of the walk. Steve told me it was Chris who inspired him to visit Skye, where he climbed his first Munro, Sgurr nan Gillean, in August that year. 

4 years later, and Steve walked between Land’s End and John O’Groats, taking in the English and Welsh 3000’s, and all the Munros, along the way, with Ben Hope as the final hill. In an email, he described it thus:

‘One of the greatest years of my life’

‘I didn’t want the trip to end, so much in fact I’d tried to convince my girlfriend back then to let me walk back home, she was having none of it, though she was pregnant so had just cause I suppose. Going back to work was the pits but I decided then I’d move to the Highlands one day and that helped me get through it’. 

Hard going in Affric

4 years on, and in 2005/6, Steve went on to complete the only solo unsupported Winter round of the Munros, his journey ending on Ben Hope.

This mountain, being the furthest North of the Munros, merits its’ iconic status in the minds of those completing a continuous Munro round, and uniquely so in the case of Steve Perry. 

9 years on from Steve’s 2003 walk, purely by chance, I bumped into a Chris Booker on the slopes of Ben Cruachan- the same man who had accompanied Steve along the Pennine Way. At the time, I was out on a similar journey across the British 3000’s. It was Chris who asked me to remember him to Steve.

I got in touch after my walk, and soon we were on the subject of Ben Hope.
I said this to Steve about that journey’s end:

‘There’s something about the way those last munros play out past Seana Bhraigh and the landscape unfolds in a totally unexpected way-and then there it is- Ben Hope. Like the last ember in a wood fire, catching the draught to shine fiercely – and then it’s gone…For me that was journey’s end. If you were carrying on to JO’G on your first round, was the hill a more significant place on your winter journey?’

At the time of this exchange, Steve was living ( I think) near Bettyhill. He said:

‘I can see Ben Hope from my house and I walk or climb on that hill quite a lot, it means a lot to me after hiking two rounds and all the way dreaming of standing on its summit.’

Steve’s affinity for the far North shone through: 

‘Mike and Kai really looked after me on the LEJOG Munro round so it was very fitting to have my party their at the end of my Winter Munro round. I usually always see Mike in the fields there when I’m driving home or down to work and I’ll stop for a chin wag. I’ve had some great nights in The Crask though I must admit its been too long now since the last one’. 

and

‘I was up and down Ben Klibreck today before dinner,… the sunrise was spectacular, from Ben More Assynt to Ben Loyal, every summit glowed pink with fresh snow’. 

A few years went by, and still the topic for discussion was Ben Hope.
This, in a more recent (2014) email from Steve:

‘I could see Ben Hope from my garden but I’ve now moved to Dalcross near Inverness.’

‘I think I’ve climbed Ben Hope by the most various of routes, including 4 ascents of the normal route, an ascent of Bell’s Ridge in winter, Brown’s Ridge in summer, Tower Ridge in winter, 2 new winter ascents – Hopefall with Andy Nisbet and Gracefall solo. I certainly have a fondness for that mountain. 

Rest in peace, Steve, and Andy.”

L.M.

I know how he feels at the end of a big walk and seeing the vast open spaces of the far North. These hills are unique and to look across from the Fannichs or Ben Dearg and see the Northern hills is uplifting. I always thought that about Ben Hope when I was young on my first Traverse of Scotland it felt special. I did it with a group and Ben Kilbreck we rushed up it recently. These mountains need to be savoured as Andy and Steve did.

Thank you for the insight into a small part of Steve’s life.

Some more lovely pieces below .

UKC Article

https://www.ukhillwalking.com/articles/features/interview_steve_perrys_winter_munro_round-4400

Thanks to Dan , and Lorraine for the photos.

Posted in Articles, Equipment, Family, Friends, Hill running and huge days!, Mountaineering, Munros, People, Rock Climbing, Scottish winter climbing., SMC/SMT, Views Mountaineering | Leave a comment

A hard couple of days.

It’s so difficult to look back on the last two days. We lost two incredible people to the mountains Andy Nisbet and Steve Perry on the remote Ben Hope in the far North of Scotland.

The recovery by the Mountain Rescue Teams the Police and the SAR helicopters of Andy and Steve was a hard one.

I know many who were involved and thank them all for their efforts. Only those who have recovered friends from the mountains will understand and their feelings. It is never easy especially in such a remote area. I am forever in your debt.

I spoke to the media a fair bit yesterday folk ask why put yourself through this ? I feel you have to to give some dignity and awareness of what Andy and Steve were doing. What drove them and at least try and enlighten some of the media to why folk climb walk ski in winter.

It is so easy to be misquoted and comments changed but I hope what was said helps the family and friends of both Andy and Steve.

It is hard for the outside world those out of our small intense world of Mountaineering to appreciate who these two icons were.

I have been involved in the Mountain

Rescue for over 40 years and so glad I have retired you never get used to recovering your own.

Especially friends sadly I have done this over the years. These tragedies being the thoughts back to so many others over many years.

Martin Moran the Mountain Guide wrote a powerful eulogy on Andy and Steve in his blog it describes Andy and who he was. It is one of the most powerful pieces I have ever read. I recommend it to you. Thank you Martin these words will mean a lot to so many.

https://www.moran-mountain.co.uk/blog

After a tragedy Mountaineers always get asked why do we climb ? Why do we love those wild places? Why do we go out in winter ?

Read Martins blog it will take you into another world where only a few venture and folk like me and many others can only dream of.

It showed the drive and personality of these two characters and a bit of who they were.

I will like many go out in the hills soon and refresh the body and mind. I will take time to think and the wild places are a place of healing for me and many others.

There is no where else to celebrate these two lives lost.

The weather looks wild for the weekend but many will be out getting their fix. There will be among those out

be many of Andy’s and Steve’s friends with heavy hearts remembering them. Yet life will continue many of the Mountain Guides/ instructors will be taking new folk out to experience the winter.

Ben Hope is a wild place especially in winter from its summit there is this totally wild area it’s pretty unique up this far North.

The lochs and tiny road below and the sea are visible from the summit. I have been here many times twice at the beginning and end of Big Walks across Scotland. It is a place of solitude and solace it will always be a special place even more so now.

Many rush up Ben More but I always enjoyed my walk along the cliff top and seeing these neglected cliffs that Andy and Steve were exploring and climbing on.

This mountain will never be the same for me but I will revisit soon.

My friends in the RAF Rescue Team stayed overnight in the same Hostel that Andy and Steve had stayed in the night before their accident. There is little other accommodation open in the winter up there. Their names had booked in the Hostel book.

It makes you think how short life can be and a simple slip can change everything.

Andy and Steve did fill every day with adventures and a love of the wild.

Thanks for all the wonderful comments and thoughts.

Be safe.

Posted in Articles, Bothies, Enviroment, Family, Flora, Friends, Mountain rescue, mountain safety, Mountaineering, Munros, SAR, Scottish winter climbing., SMC/SMT, Views Mountaineering, Weather, Wildlife | 2 Comments

A wonderful tribute to Andy Nisbet by Martin Moran

Tribute by Martin Moran to Andy and Steve. A wonderful tribute.

https://www.moran-mountain.co.uk/blog

Posted in Articles, Friends, Mountain rescue, Mountaineering, Scottish winter climbing., SMC/SMT, Views Mountaineering | Leave a comment

Tragic loss for us all the Loss of Andy Nisbet and Steve Perry in a climbing accident on Ben Hope .

From Assynt Mountain Rescue Team yesterday

“Over 5 and 6 Feb team members were involved in a search and recovery of two persons on Ben Hope. Extremely welcome support from Dundonnell MRT and Lossiemouth MRT. And huge thanks to Police Scotland and both Stornoway And Dalcross based Coastguard helicopters for their outstanding support over the two days. Our sincere condolences and thoughts go out to all the family and friends, many of whom are involved in mountain rescue.”

Yesterday the news came in that two incredible Mountain people had been killed on Ben More – Scotland’s most Northerly Munro! I knew right away that it could be a pal Andy Nisbet and his climbing partner Steve Perry.  Unfortunately I hardly knew Steve but he was another powerful climber and one who was one of the strongest climbers in the SMC. (Scottish Mountaineering Club) He had done a unsupported traverse of all Scotland’s Munro’s in the past.

” From BBC news “Steve Perry was also a well-known mountaineer, who had completed an on-foot round of the Munros in the winter of 2005-06 and was a keen climber in both summer and winter, who listed new routing in winter Scotland as one of his favourite climbing experiences.”

I sadly had an awful feeling when I heard that there had been an accident on Ben More. I knew that Andy was up that way climbing as always on new winter routes. Andy was always climbing especially in winter with his many friends many who are some of the best winter climbers in the UK,  that was who and what he lived for.

Andy gave me a few photos for my Mountain Safety lectures I do not know who took them but if you can help please let me know. This one is iconic.

I knew Andy very well he was roughly the same age as me but what an incredible. Mountaineer in every aspect. He was the most active prolific Mountaineer that Scotland has ever produced. He has climbed over 1000 plus new winter routes all over Scotland his enthusiasm was dynamic. Never in the history of Scottish Mountaineering has anyone been so prolific or enthusiastic and introduced so many to the mountains especially in winter

It was in winter that Andy excelled he climbed all over Scotland most crags have a “Nisbet Route” and was “the expert in Scottish winter climbing” I was lucky to know Andy we met often on the hills. At one time he was the youngest to complete the Munro’s at that time at 17 years old. This is where we had a common interest in the hills, especially his marathon hill days with rock climbing added to produce some incredible days.

Though he was such an incredibly talented Mountaineer he always had time to speak and give me and so many others the benefit of his knowledge.  He was always interested in what we were up to and if we had found any new crags, on our wanders round Scotland with the RAF Teams.

We met many times but one that stands out was on a wild night in the 80′ in the Hutchison Hut in the Cairngorms . I had fought my way round five Munros in early winter with a young troop, we so glad to find the hut empty. Andy arrived with the young  Grahame Livingston after putting up a new route on Coire Sputan Dearg. I thought I was fit and in came Andy and Graham they were plastered in snow, with wild eyes it was very late and had been dark and a blizzard was blowing. It had been one of the worst days ever for me in the mountains yet how they climbed in these conditions I will never know. Yet we had a great night in that freezing bothy sharing our food and stories.

We met often even on a Rescues and at Glenmore Lodge on routes across Scotland and many of my team especially the young ones of an Andy Nisbet story. He was such a good man and his encyclopedic knowledge of Scotland was unsurpassed. He was always been willing to share and help folk and pass on his knowledge. There will be amazing eulogies he climbed with most of Scotland’s great climbers. He started many on the road to the mountains in his guiding and so many will have a tale about Andy and Steve who was also a powerhouse in the mountains. He was so well known through his Guide books and articles and by those who knew him so well.

Yesterday I lost a good pal who was a huge icon in Scottish Mountaineering. Many will miss that wild beard frozen up and his vagueness when chasing new lines on the mountains but what huge enthusiasm on the crag. He was a huge influence on the Scottish Mountaineering Club ( SMC) where he was on many of the Committees and served as President. I knew him for the many meetings we had with the Scottish Mountain Trust and the huge work he did for mountain lovers  and the Guide Books that he loved and wrote.

Sadly Andy and Steve are with us  no more and we have lost two men who are irreplaceable in this wee country that we love.

Steve and Andy had climbed a lot together they were a formidable partnership and the news is just starting to sink in. Its so hard to take in. We lose so many to the mountains it always so hard to understand why ?

Sadly the pain we leave behind for the families and friends is heartbreaking.

My thoughts are with Andy and Steve’s families and all their pals what an awful tragic day.

The Mountain Rescue Teams of Assynt, Dundonnell and RAF Lossiemouth MRT’s carried out a huge call out along with the SAR Helicopter in such a remote area. My thanks are to them, many in the teams will know Andy and Steve and thanks for all their efforts.

Andy Nisbet on Beinn Eighe.

Life can be so hard at times.

My thoughts are with Steve and Andy’s family and friends.

How do we Justify a life – Dave Bathgate.

For Tony, Dougal, Mick. Bugs, Nick, ET AL

How can we justify a life,

Spent sitting at the coal?

Or roaring at the stadium,

Foul ref, off side, goal.

And how do we justify the time

Spent sitting at the set?

Or in the boozer sinking pints,

Or placing one more bet.

And tell us how we justify,

The attitude today?

That even if we shirk the work,

We still expect the pay?

How can we justify a life

Without a plan or vision?

With never a constructive thought

No risks and no ambition?

And yet we sit and criticise

The spirit wild and free

Who climbs the highest mountains

And sails the cruellest seas.

Who plumbs the deepest oceans

Or explores the darkest caves.

Or has the crazy notion

to surf the biggest wave.

Blinded by security

We say they must be fools,

To shoot white water rapids,

Or fight fast whirlpool

But a true appreciation

Of life we will never know,

Till we have pushed our minds and bodies

As far as they can go.

And if death should overtake us.

Then death must have been due,

But there is no sting in death,

No sting for you.

Poem by Dave Bathgate

 Andy Nisbet

This is from Ron Walker

It’s hard to take in, I keep hoping I’m having a bad dream. Andy for all his climbing achievements and fame once you met and knew him, you realised he was such a ordinary, humble, kind and genuine person who was always happy to share and chat to everyone whether in the mountains, at the crags or in the supermarket buying snowballs and sugarpuffs! He always that mischievous twinkle in his eye, as if he was a naughty schoolboy doing something he shouldn’t be, such as eating sweet and cake or mixed climbing as in this photo! His mate I didn’t know Steve that well and although outwardly different in character he was another genuine person who lived for his adventures in the mountains with Andy and mates and especially climbing new winter lines. The climbing world will be shocked.

Thank you Ron

 

Andy Nisbet – photo Ron Walker.
Posted in Articles, Bothies, Mountain rescue, mountain safety, Scottish winter climbing., SMC/SMT, Views Mountaineering, Weather | 30 Comments

Winters in the Falklands – one pair of boots and crampons and a great day winter climbing.

I was privileged to spend two tours in the Falklands when I was in the RAF. It is a wonderful place for wildlife and mountains. Most of the popular peaks are less than 1000 feet and were the scene of bloody battles during the 1982 conflict.  They are still littered with the military remains of this awful war. Minefields, too many to clear, abound; giving a new meaning to the phrase “objective dangers”.  However, they tend to be well marked and fenced off. The war was incredible and I knew a few who have fought here. It was an incredible feat to fight this war and when you visit the graves of the Argentines forces it is a sombre place. There is always a wind and with the rosaries blowing in the wind its chilling. After the war the military have built a road from the camp at Mount Pleasant Airfield, where a garrison of 2000 personnel are based. The road is 34 miles to the capital Port Stanley. This is the only road, which for some reason has a monsoon ditch 4- 5 feet deep and 3 feet wide on either side. The engineers got the rainfall figures completely wrong; hence the ditch regularly has crashed and overturned Land Rovers in it. This makes it an interesting drive to Stanley and back in winter. The road is often closed for military vehicles due too high winds and can regularly resemble driving up a frozen glacier in a blizzard. The winds can come from nowhere and can blow a wagon of the road with ease.

As a member of the RAF occasionally you get detached to out of the way places.  The Falklands Islands is one of these. It is a wonderful place and though the mountains are small, the highest below 2500 feet, they do have a fantastic appeal to the climber. I got my gear taken out through my contacts marked Rescue Gear ropes, axes, crampoms and ice gear its 8000 miles away.

All the outcrops are of quartzite and almost everywhere the Bedding is steeply inclined. The outcrops in the Stanley area are slabby, Mount Tumbledown being the exception. Balsam bog plants grow all over the cliffs and freeze in winter along with lots of other types of vegetation. Hence, there is plenty of scope for winter climbing.

The first climbs recorded were in 1946 by members of the Falkland Islands Dependencies Survey, who were waiting at Stanley on their journey South to Antarctica.  The Royal Marines, who were based at Moody Brook until 1982, did a lot of exploration and since the conflict many Servicemen climbers have enjoyed the Falkland Islands climbing experience. This involves uniqueness in climbing almost virgin rock. Moreover, many routes have been left unrecorded and individuals have enjoyed the pioneering feel of seeing if a route will go. Only 2 routes were known to have been recorded in winter previously and one was by Stephen Venables en route to South Georgia in 1989, though little is known about it. (I tried to climb this but the weather was awful)

The Falklands

 

The Falklands has a distinctive weather system and can contain all four seasons in one day.  One must expect the unexpected, especially when walking or climbing alone. The weather, which is dictated, from the Polar Regions can give exceptional climbing conditions very quickly. A climbing partner can be fairly difficult to find, as when winter comes, few venture out of the Military complex in search of excitement. Most of this complex is built like a space station, with corridors linking all the domestic accommodation. This is due to the regular high winds, when all but essential personnel are confined to base.   Some people detached to the Falklands do not leave the complex during their 4-month tour. In addition the military mind does not accept the concept of solo mountaineering, but such is life.

2000 Falklands Grotto Grade 4 Harriet

The Marines fought for Mount Harriet, in the war  which overlooks the Stanley road. When you read the account of the battle and the terrifying fight they had for this hill it makes sombre reading. It has a great wee scramble and one can only imagine fighting for your life up here, The Mountain has a slab with the only previously climbed winter route, Grotto, a three star Grade 4.  This is an excellent, sustained and demanding route (for the grade) requiring torquing and hooking.

another ascent of Grotto on 2000

The only problem was all the kit we had were my ice tools, crampons and winter boots. My partner Graham Stamp (Stampy) had come to the Falklands planning to rock climbing but had got the seasons wrong (southern hemisphere abstraction!) and we had an epic “swapping boots and kit in the middle of a blizzard”. I failed on the crux and Stampy, after donning my kit, sailed up the route,  I had placed a great pair of drive in ice screws in the Balsam plants they but was frozen Stampy  (he had previously lost a crampon on the North Face of the Eiger and completed the route with little problem – he was “useful”!). The weather that day was straight out of Patagonia, one of the coldest days I have ever been on the hill.  (Nearly as bad as the Cairngorms). Eventually I scraped my way up the route and made our way off the crag.

The walk down is only 20 minutes to the road, where we were met by the local Police, who were very interested in what we were up to. But a dram from my rucksack ensured we were not in any trouble and all was kept quiet, as we didn’t have permission to climb.

We arrived back at camp many were oblivious to our great day, the road was still shut and few had walked out of the camp, Yet what a day we had and it took hours to warm my feet after the climb. What next?

One pair of boots with Stampy

After our wee epic, my Stampy was posted back to the UK and I had no climbing partner. I asked several friends to come out but very few were interested in winter climbing. During a tour in the Falklands you only get one day off a week and it was essential for my sanity, to get out of camp and on the hills. I went out alone often but that is another story.

Posted in Enviroment, Equipment, Falklands Islands, Scottish winter climbing., Views Mountaineering, Weather, Wildlife | 7 Comments