A few thoughts on a difficult day.

Today I will go today  to a funeral of a good pal John Coull who died of Cancer last week. It’s to be a celebration of John’s life and there are many pals coming from all over the UK to be part of it, we are to wear bright clothes, tartan if possible and I am sure there will be some tears and yet many laughs as we remember John as  the day goes on. John knew he was very ill but tried to lived his life to the full and we can take some joy in that.

The World is crazy just now with the tragedies in London and bad news round every corner, yet we must take faith from the amount of good people about. My heart goes out to John’s family and friends.

In London this week I fell for those in the Emergency Services  in  London  will have a terrible job to carry out over the next few weeks and my thoughts are with them. One good thing is that at least now Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is accepted as real and now after so many years accepted by the Establishment. It was good to hear the Firemen’s leader Dany Cotton, the service’s first female Fire Commissioner  saying we will have to look after our people for what they have been through. We have moved forward from my teams experiences at Lockerbie and the fight we had to get PTSD this accepted by the establishment, especially those in charge.. Words are easy to say but the Fire Service, ambulance and Police and the families need help and care in the hard years to come. Its time for the politicians to work together and forget their tribal allegiances and work for the benefit of those who need it.

There in my mind  huge problems in the UK just now so much as society struggles with those who have so much and those who have not.

The World comes across as a trouble place yet there are  so many good people are about and I pray that good can overcome greed before it is to late.

It will be  a difficult day for many today but far worse for those in London, my thoughts are with them.

Posted in Friends, Views Political? | 2 Comments

Climbing in the Mountains – Read this please Tip, Tap Test?

Image of cliff with Fingers Ridge marked thanks Andy Nisbet. He does mention the the SMC Guide for the  Cairngorms ” care must be taken with the blocky rock  in the upper section”

Unfortunately there has been a couple of bad accidents in the Cairngorms over the weekend one involving a pal Ron Walker who was hurt when a loose block came away. Ron has given his permission to repeat his tale and hopefully pass on some tips when rock  climbing in the mountains.    It was a great effort to help Ron off the cliff by Cairngorm MRT and the Helicopter, something we should never take for granted. Next day they had another incident on the same cliff.  The mountain weather, the dry May and heavy rain in June will not have helped the natural erosion in this area so be careful out there. The picture below was one I used to advise on our training whilst with RAF Mountain Rescue where many had limited knowledge of the cliffs. It was advice that we passed on. Fingers Ridge was my second rock climb in the Team in 1972 and I did it fairly often afterwards mainly in Summer. Tap and Test sounds good to me.  Please share with other climber and walker s and be aware!

Fingers Ridge a mountain route where care must be taken.

“Unfortunately loose rock and rubble is normal on mountain routes and is to be expected even on the most solid and well travelled line, treat every handhold and foothold as if it were loose because many are or will be in the future – so take care. Tip, Tap and Test with your hands and feet as you climb, remember the three T’s!”

The Cliffs of Coire an t’sneachta

Ron Walker –  “After warning everyone about the loose blocks on Fingers Ridge last week, I went back up to make sure it was the right loose blocks that Andy had managed to removed following my concerns. It was also a good opportunity to clear any remaining loose debris from the lower pitches as Andrew (not Andy!) and I climbed, making the the route and the Goat Track path below that much safer. I was quite pleased with the amount of dangerous rubble we managed to clear from the first two pitches. However at the top of the slabby corner of pitch three, just past the optional loose block belay on the left and after about a metre or two on the loose arete, a large area of slab just slid off with me on it! I fell backwards with the slabby guillotine like blocks following me in flight until the one wire runner placed at the start of the arete came tight. I’d really thought I’d had it as the large flakes would have taken my head and arms off. However by some miracle the fall held after about five metres and left hanging upside down on the damaged rope. Amazingly I’d only got hit by one block as it bounced by hitting and crushing my right arm. As the blocks whizzed by my head and body they cut the main anchor sling at the foot of the pitch. This was between Andrew and the spike belay and the one other thread runner and Andrew’s trousers we’re cut too. This meant that one of the blocks must have just missed him by a mm or so as it sliced through the runner and the belay sling! Fortunately the rope wasn’t cut through but nicked and my lucky offset No 3 wire had held. If it hadn’t held all the other slings had been cut by the falling flakes and I wouldn’t be typing this and likely a double fatality!! Spotting the severed sling Andrew managed to place another sling before I was lowered in agony onto the belay ledge. Once we were all secured again, Andrew phoned the rescue services and we prepared for the wait by wearing our extra warm layers, bivi and group shelters. It was just after 10.00 hrs and very wet and windy. It was a long wait until the team arrived as the chopper couldn’t just lift us off as hoped for, due to the poor viz and gusty winds. We needed to be lowered off by Cairngorm Mountain Rescue team which took a lot longer as the teams members had to be called out and kit had to be carried in. Eventually a complicated lower from the plateau was set up to avoid more rockfall. It was about 16.00 hrs before we’d been lowered off the climb and at least 17.00 -20.00 before being choppered in to A & E and knowing how bad the injuries were likely to be. The big concern at the hospital was that they could not find any pulse on the cold damaged arm and at one point it looked like I would need surgery to repair the arteries or worse. However various tests and an angiogram were carried out. I explained that over 40 years ago I’d severed the wrist damaging the tendons, nerves and artery. Since then I’ve had impaired hand function and unknown to me or anyone else not had a normal arterial pulse! So at around 22.00 hrs the good news was that nothing was badly broken, just crushed a bit and I still had circulation with the prognosis that I should make a full recovery over the next month or so!!!
A big thanks to Cairngorm MRT and in particular John Lyall and Duncan Scott (Doctor ) for risking there necks in a particularly tricky and dangerously loose rescue and to Andrew (Doctor!) my second climber for remaining calm and supportive, in miserable weather three pitches up, for the six or more hours following the accident before being lowered off. And a big thanks obviously goes to the SAR helicopter crew, para medics, doctors and Raigmore hospital, nursing staff.”Ron Walker – thanks for sharing with us.

From Mountaineering Scotland/ Glenmore Lodge.

Events last weekend in Coire an’t Sneachda in the Northern Corries of the Cairngorms have highlighted the need for all hill-walkers and climbers to be vigilant when climbing on or passing below mountain crags.

Two separate teams over the weekend were injured by rock fall. On Saturday a team on a route known as Fingers Ridge had a very lucky escape when a large slab of rock gave way.  Ironically they were clearing loose rock from the route when the accident happened. (Read Ron Walker’s own account of his accident.)

And on Sunday a team were injured on Pygmy Ridge, in the same Corrie.

Walkers and climbers are familiar with the shattered, loose rock around the crags and corries of Scottish Mountains. The process of freezing and thawing through the winter season continues to dislodge and shatter rock faces, and natural erosion processes continue as they have since the mountains were created.

Shaun Roberts, Principal at Glenmore Lodge, said: “I do believe that the nature of winters over the last decade, along with the generally more intense precipitation has had an impact on Coire an t-Sneachda.

“We have experienced a number of winters with very deep snow packs, including snow laying at depth on the steep broken ground of the Coire.  Over a season and under the influence of gravity this snowpack will displace, but often not dislodge, blocks and boulders of significant size, leaving behind a significant challenge for the summer climber.

“And this year we enjoyed a super dry May but then received almost our monthly quota of rainfall on one day in June.

“I suspect these weather patterns are having an impact on the stability of some areas and we continue to approach climbing in Coire an t-Sneachda with a more heightened sense of the objective dangers.”

Heather Morning, Mountain Safety Advisor with Mountaineering Scotland said: “Hillwalkers, scramblers and climbers should be extra vigilant when journeying either below or approaching scrambles and climbs – particularly if there are other parties above or there has been heavy rainfall in the previous few days.

The Goat Track path be careful as there is some loose rock above especially when climbers are on the cliff. From the Rescue box

“Specifically, hillwalkers should be particularly cautious when ascending or descending the Goat Track in Corie an’t Sneachda when there are climbers above them.”

Posted in Articles, Enviroment, Equipment, Friends, Gear, Mountain rescue, mountain safety, Mountaineering, Views Mountaineering, Weather | Leave a comment

Enjoyable day a bit of everything. Cycle, Scramble, Erosion a bit of a row with Burghead Coastal Rowing Club and a few holes of evening golf.

Lovely day at Cummingston sea cliffs a superb place to be.

Yesterday it was good to have an easy day after the football and my visit to Dundonnell MRT. I went for a short cycle and down to my local Cummingston cliffs where there were a lot a girls climbing that is great to see a big change from my early days. They were having fun, in between the odd shower it was a lovely morning no sign of the  Dolphins or Whales that were about though? I had a bit of a boulder on the rock and it is easy to forget how lovely a place I live in and how rusty I am on the rock.  The erosion of the path on the way down to the cliffs is getting worse and few seem to bother maybe it is time to raise the profile of this again?

No one seems to care?

i WINDER SHOULD I CHASE THIS AND GET THE ORGANISATIONS WHO USE THIS GREAT PLACE TO SORT IT OUT?

Path erosion at Cummingston?

I came back by the Harbour and the Burghead Coastal Rowing were having a taster 20 minutes in the harbour and I was invites to  join them and it was good fun.It was only a short session in the Harbour and enjoyable and very informative lots to remember.  Have I time to join I may look at it in the future?  Thanks very much for that introduction.

 Homepage of Burghead Coastal Rowing Club.

Burghead Coastal Rowing Club was established in August 2013, with the aim of bringing the traditional coastal rowing to the Moray area.  The club was fomed as part of the Scottish Coastal Rowing Project, which involves first building a boat in the community before using it to row recreationally and in competition.  The Scottish Coastal Rowing Project aims to promote and encourage the sharing of traditional skills and encourage healthy exercise, whilst making use of the wonderful coastline we live alongside.

The Club welcomes individuals ranging in age from teenagers through to pensioners.   The beauty of coastal rowing is that you do not need any prior experience, levels of fitness or expensive kit of your own, therefore making it extremely accessible.

Burghead Coastal Rowing in the Harbour. Looking after us.

You can choose which aspect to get involved with – whether it is raising funds within the community, helping build the boat or finally rowing your own hand-built St Ayles skiff proudly along your local coastline – or any combination of the above!

Get involved and join us – who wouldn’t want to make new friends, get fitter and have fun!

Evening Golf at Hopeman, no one about.

Later on I took some golf balls up to the club for the Juniors and met a pal Jake so we arranged to play a few holes after tea. The weather was fine and my golf poor but it was lovely to get a few holes in before our annual golf trip today to Newtonmore with the Hopeman Seniors. It was a lovely night with the light over the sea at times spellbinding. I left my sand wedge in a bunker so will have to go over early and get it before we head down to Newtonmore by bus at 0800.

Its busy times ahead?

Posted in Charity, Enviroment, Equipment, Friends, Golf, Mountaineering, People, Sailing trips, SMC/SMT, Views Mountaineering, Weather, Wildlife | Leave a comment

A wonderful afternoon with Dundonnell Mountain Rescue Team at the Opening of their new Base in Dingwall. It gives you faith in human kindness.

The Dundonnell MRT at the Dingwall base – Photo thanks to Angus Mackie Scotland 360

I have been extremely lucky in my life to meet so many great people, nowadays with the World in turmoil it is wonderful to celebrate a happy event with good people. Dundonnell MRT opened their new Base in Dingwall and I was given the huge honour of being asked to open it and say a few words. I left early via Inverness in heavy rain and was promised the postcode of the new Base but that was the tricky part of the day as Dingwall has a couple of Industrial parks and after a while I found it. This was a nice test of navigation!

I always try to  arrive early and had a look round the new build and was amazed that the Team had raised nearly £2000oo for the build, that would be some effort by all in an area with not a huge population. What a great effort.

The Band great music – Photo Angus Mackie Scotland 360.

I met so many old friends on the day and the afternoon was a great success after a few words by Keith Byres the Chairman of the Trustees then we had a great meal supplied by a nearby local firm The Storehouse superb food. Then the one of the team sang a wonderful song/ dirge in Gaelic that was extremely moving.

The words in English are so moving and so relevant to Mountain Rescue.

“O Lord of the elements and of all the hosts above

Pour down your gracious blessings

With our land and language thriving

And may the children of the Geal be sheltered under your wing!

I then I did my wee piece and I hope it went down well as the Base is dedicated to a few pals in the team who are no longer with us.

In Mountain Rescue we are so lucky we are supported by family. and friends who without their love and care we could never do this at times difficult job. They sit and wait for us at home as we go out on these wild call  – outs and pray for our safe return. Few outside the Mountain Rescue Family can imagine their thoughts at times and the worry that many have. We at times miss birthdays, social events, parties and other important family events due to a Call – out and it does at times effect relationships and especially our children.  Yet finding someone alive and bringing them off the hill is an incredible experience that we have had the privilege to be part of.

The Dundonnell Mountain Rescue Team continues to carry out its job in these wild mountains in a hugely professional way despite the recent tragedies. To many you are a great example on how to run a team with the Police and the locals working so well together. Your combined experience, in-depth training, skills and history have been hard-won and some great individuals have made huge influences over the years. The strength though is the team, the men, woman (and dogs) that make this such a special group to belong to.  It is an amazing history you have you are unsung heroes all of you but even more so you are part of a unique Mountain Rescue Family.  I wish you all much happiness in your new Base.

 

Dundonnell MRT has had its fair share of tragedy recently and this was mentioned. There was the band as well all pals  and lots of families and friends enjoying the company of the family that is Mountain Rescue. The Band more old pals were playing as I left to the sound of magic music and the drive home.

Thanks to Angus Mackie Scotland 360 for the photos

I left early to watch the Scotland game and it was a huge honour to be invited to speak to such great folk, it is a day I never forget. To be at such an event gives you huge faith in  human nature, the world is full of kind caring people who give their time to help those in trouble and this is wonderful to see and to have been a small part of. We must never forget this.

Even a cake to celebrate thanks to Angus Mackie for the use of the photos.

Thank you Dundonnell MRT and Angus Mackie Scotland 360 for the photographs.

Posted in Bothies, Mountain rescue, Mountaineering, SAR, Views Mountaineering | 2 Comments

Dundonnell MRT – The opening their new Base at Dingwall.

Today I have been invited to be at the opening of the Dundonnell Mountain Rescue Team base at Dingwall.   Dundonnell MRT cover a huge area in the North of Scotland that is sparsely populated and to have raised £185000 is a huge undertaking.   It operates in an area I love and I am very fond of the team after nearly 40 years of working with them. Like the 4  far Northern Teams they cover some of Scotland’s finest mountain areas. This is the land of An Teallach, Fisherfield and many more great wild remote hills, far from the road. It will be great to share the day with some specail people. Coigach, An Teallach, the Fannichs, Ben Wyvis, Glen Affric, Mullardoch and Strathfarrar/Monar. The area goes as far south as Invermoriston and takes in 40 Munros and some 75 other mountains of note. What an area!

From the North West Guide book published by the SMC

“The Northwest is the most wild and rugged part of the Highlands; vast tracts of it are remote from roads and human habitation and the walker and climber in these mountains can experience a sense of solitude and isolation as in few other parts of the country.”
.

I have been asked to say a few words at the event it will be short but a huge thanks to all those who donated and the families and friends who make the  Mountain Rescue teams work possible .

In Mountain Rescue we are so lucky we are supported by family. and friends who without their love and care we could never do this at times difficult job. They sit and wait for us at home as we go out on these wild call  – outs and pray for our safe return. Few outside the Mountain Rescue Family can imagine their thoughts at times and the worry that many have. We at times miss birthdays, social events, parties and other important family events due to a Call – out and it does at times effect relationships and especially our children..  Yet finding someone alive and bringing them off the hill is an incredible experience that we have had the privilege to be part of.

The team continues to carry out its job in these wild mountains in a hugely professional way. To many you are a great example on how to run a team with the Police and the locals working so well together. Your combined experience, in-depth training, skills and history have been hard-won and some great individuals have made huge influences over the years. Though the team has had it share of tragedy  recently the team goes form strength to strength. The strength though is the team, the men, woman (and dogs) that make this such a special group to belong to.  It is an amazing story from the early days you  are unsung heroes all of you but even more so you are part of a unique Mountain Rescue Family. I know this from  personal experience and what you have done for friends and mountaineers in the past.

“The kit on the outside and the equipment may have changed.


Underneath the heart and soul of the teams remains the same”

On behalf of all who love the mountains and wild places a huge thanks to you all.

 

Dundonnell Mountain Rescue Team (DMRT)
operate in a vast area of rugged and
remote mountainous country. The team
of around 35 volunteers is available
24 hours a day, 365 days a year to help anyone in difficulty on the hills, mountains or crags in an area spanning more than 2,600 square miles.

Welcome to our website.  http://www.dmrt.org.uk/

Dundonnell Mountain Rescue Team –   Dingwall Base Appeal

St.John Scotland – The order are a major Sponsor of Scottish mountain rescue in general and have assisted us with financial support many times over the years. We are extremely grateful for their assistance so far and long may it continue. Thank you.

 

“A big, big thank you to everybody who donated to make this possible”

After a 2-year funding campaign Dundonnell Mountain Rescue Team (DMRT) is delighted to announce that it has reached its funding target to enable the team to build a base in Dingwall.
A TEAM of mountain rescuers who cover a vast area across Ross-shire is celebrating the completion of its new east coast base.

The premises at Dingwall Business Park has recently been handed over to Dundonnell Mountain Rescue Team (DMRT) which raised £185,000 to fund the purpose-built base.
It was designed by architect Reynolds Architecture and built by contractor J C Cameron Ltd.

Keith Bryers, chair of the DMRT Board of Trustees, said: “The team’s ‘east coasters’ are very pleased to have taken occupation of the base, which will provide, for the first time, a secure garage for the team’s east coast vehicles, a training room and stores.
“We shall have a formal opening later in the year but we are already using it for training events and as a muster point on being called out by Police Scotland.”
Mr Bryers paid tribute to the generosity of the project’s main funders, the Robertson Trust, sportscotland, Stafford Trust, Crerar Hotels Trust, SSE Fairburn Community Windfarm Trust, Robert Barr Trust, Foyle Foundation, Basil Samuel Trust, Nancy Massey Trust, The Great Wilderness Challenge, Lochluichart Community Trust, W M Mann Trust, AMW Trust, Scottish Mountaineering Trust, Strathconon & Scardroy Estate, Letterewe Estate and Lifescan Scotland. The team of around 40 volunteers is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year to help anyone in difficulty on the hills.
The team’s territory covers 2,600 square miles of rugged and remote mountainous terrain, including Coigach, An Teallach, the Fannichs, Ben Wyvis, Glen Affric, Mullardoch and Strathfarrar/Monar. The area goes as far south as Invermoriston and takes in 40 Munros and some 75 other mountains of note.
The team already has rescue posts at Dundonnell, Ullapool and Gairloch, with vehicles based at these locations, plus Dingwall.
Members are spread throughout the various communities in the team’s area.

 

Further information about the team, which is a registered charity, and its activities, including how a donation can be made to help fund the team’s activities, can be found on the team’s website: http://www.dmrt.org.uk

Follow us on Twitter at: https://twitter.com/DundonnellMRT

View our Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/groups/105830046127083

Posted in Charity, Equipment, Friends, Gear, Hill running and huge days!, Local area and events to see, Mountain rescue, mountain safety, Mountaineering, Munros, SMC/SMT, Views Mountaineering | Leave a comment

My thoughts on the Election night

My view on Election night, it was a very interesting night I thought the SNP would lose maybe 10 seats and the Torys and Labour would gain but what happend was incredible

To me it was good to see Labour back in the frame AS A PROPER OPPOSITION this is what democracy is about. It would be good if all parties now worked together for a better country. Sad night for my party but maybe with a stronger opposition in Westminster things will improve. Sadly I feel my dreams of Independence are over at least in my lifetime. I hope now that we can sort out the mess and not just follow blindly our parties and allegiances. We need to tell them when they have lost the plot and are out of line power can corrupt. I feel we need to make this a better country for all share our wealth look after the old the ill and young and welcome those who need help.  We have food banks in 2017 and so many homeless yet we have so much.

There is so much to do and surely working together we can make this a great country?

I am proud to live in Scotland and we have so many from all over the UK and the world enjoying this wonderful place and despite the politics we must never forget that we need to live together whatever happens.

Stay friends whatever your politics, you can argue, discuss but respect all views and never take your right to vote lightly.

Good luck with those who are left to clear up this mess.

Posted in Views Political? | 5 Comments

The Fall , Part 1 Feb 1994 – the story of a big call -out in the Cairngorms with some interesting consequences.

13/2/94 – 16/2/94 Cairngorms – Derry Cairngorm

36/012958

Missing walker – found after a 3-day search in appalling weather- KMRT videoed the CAS who had mild hypothermia and frostbite. This proved a PR nightmare as the walker Told/sold her story to a tabloid, upsetting most of Mountain Rescue and blaming the RAF Kinloss team for the video. A big learning point in PR.

This is a podcast in two parts about a huge incident at the time

SARDA and a few characters including Graham Gibb

My notes -Media Changes –  This was noted after Lockerbie in 1988 and a few did a Media Skills Course to try to give a more professional insight into Rescue. The Police still had the responsibility but the media wanted  a Mountain Rescue input  and many vital lessons were learned.  A few teams wanted little to do with the Media but in time we have learned to work together and many lessons learned. A few went badly wrong like the call out for Jackie Greaves in the Cairngorms where MOD released a RAF team video that caused mayhem throughout Mountain Rescue.This was a very hard time after the release of the video and it was instantly used by the the media these were the early days of instant news and huge lessons were to be learned. I have pushed the use of the small videos as they had huge value especially in plane crashes as they gave the investigators instant knowledge of a crash site and the conditions on scene. They were also of great use for training and showing exactly what conditions were like in the mountains in these incidents. This was the nasty 90’s they were many fatal accidents some that involved friends that we were involved in. It was a hard time and when we recovered a casualty alive after several days this was pretty rare. The weather was as bad as any I can remember and there were huge efforts by Braemar, Aberdeen, SARDA, and the RAF teams and helicopters bare that in mind as you sit in the warm and listen to this.

http://mountainpodcast.com/

#19 The fall, part I

February, 1994. The Cairngorms are in the grip of an Arctic storm. Alone and in a whiteout, Jackie Greaves strays out on to a cornice. Seconds later, the snow collapses into air.

Music

Ascent by Jon Luc Hefferman, La Brise by Circus Marcus, Little Black Cloud by Poddington Bear, Tentative Steps by Kai Engel and Planet BCosmic Drifting and Planet E by Lee Rosevere.


Credits

Thanks to Jackie Greaves, Graham Gibb and Willie Fraser. Research help for this episode was from David “Heavy” Whalley, Bob Reid and Bob Sharp. A special thanks to Alistair and Maria Hearn for putting me up while I was reporting this story. Editing help was from Huw Williams.

Mountain is sponsored by Alpkit.


Links for this episode

Mountain is an award-winning show about adventure in wild places. We tell stories about climbers and explorers, lovers and kidnappers, racers, travellers — and even violinists.

The podcast is a crafted mix of interviews, sound and music, brought together to tell compelling and immersive stories. Mountain was launched in 2015 and is one of the UK’s most popular outdoors podcasts.

Fans of the show have called it “gripping”, “beautifully produced”, “wonderfully eclectic” and “simply stunning”. It’s also been praised for its “real emotion and human heart”.

Mountain is hosted and produced by Christopher Sleight, a radio producer, journalist and climber living in Scotland.


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Posted in Avalanche info, Mountain rescue, mountain safety, SAR, Views Mountaineering, Weather | Leave a comment