Cairngorm air craft crashes – Missing Oxford aircraft PH404 from 311 Squadron – Beinn A’ Bhuird

Missing Oxford aircraft  PH404 from 311 Squadron – Beinn A’ Bhuird

oXFORD

Oxford

On January 10th 1945 at 1045 hrs, Oxford PH404 took off from RAF Tain on the North East coast of Scotland bound for RAF Hornchurch near London. The weather in Tain at that time was reported to have been good with blue sky, no clouds and no wind. However, the met forecast was apparently for adverse weather. On-board the aircraft were five airmen from 311 (Czech) Squadron which was based at Tain, four Pilots and a Wireless Operator/Air Gunner.

Squadron Leader Karel Kvapil – Pilot
Flying Officer Leo Linhart – Pilot
Flying Officer Jan Vella – Pilot
Flying Officer Valter Kauders – Wireless Operator/Air Gunner
Warrant Officer Rudolph Jelen – Pilot

The flight was not an operational one. It is believed that F/O Jan Vella was travelling to London to receive his DFC award, F/O Linhart, S/Ldr Kvapil and F/O Kauders are believed to have been taking some leave, and W/O Jelen was detailed to return the aircraft from RAF Hornchurch to RAF Tain.

The aircraft failed to arrive at RAF Hornchurch, and no record could be found of it having landed at any other airbase. It was believed that Oxford PH404 must have crashed in the sea since no trace of any wreckage had been reported.

It was not until August 19th 1945, that the fate of Oxford PH404 and her crew was finally known when the wreckage was discovered by two hill walkers.

I was helping the late Sqn Eric Hughes wife Wendy  the other day Eric was my old Boss in the RAF Mountain Rescue and was a man who looked after me and many others of the wild bunch on many occasions.  Wendy had found an old article written by Archie Pennie who had found the aircraft this is his account.

A Gruesome Discovery

A Gruesome Discovery –   An  Article by Archie Pennie

(This was  taken from an old photocopy)

The Grampians are the highest Mountains in Britain and cover a large area of Central and North Scotland. The Cairngorms are the most northerly of the hills of the main range. As a youth I spent many happy and carefree weeks camping and climbing in the Cairngorms, which were within some 40 miles of my home town Elgin.

I was home on leave for a few days from the RAF and on the 25 August a long-time companion and fellow climber and I set out to climb two of our favourite peaks, namely Ben Avon and Ben a Bhuird. We were approaching the summit of Ben Avon when we noticed an increasing amount of aircraft debris. It was parts of a fuselage, plywood, metal and fabric painted yellow and obviously from a training aircraft. At first I did not think much about it for the Cairngorms during the war had seen a considerable number of crashes from the many airfields in the North of Scotland. Frankly  I was surprised that the wreckage which increased in volume as we climbed higher had not been cleaned up and removed.

Oxford Ben a' Buird engines.

Oxford Ben a’ Buird engines.

About 100 feet from the summit we came across the site of the crash. Split wide open were the remains of an Oxford in many, many pieces. I quickened my step hoping there would be some dashboard treasures that could be salvaged as souvenirs. However, what I found stopped me in my tracks for there were several bodies in and around the debris.  My first thoughts were that I might know some of the victims. This worry was put to rest , for right away I noticed that they were all members of the Czech Air Force.      Their bodies on first inspection appeared to be in a reasonable physical shape. Their faces were grey, wrinkled and ashen but their hair was blown gently in the wind, always strong at these altitudes. Ben Avon is 3843 feet above sea level.

The cockpit was reasonably intact and there were bodies in the two seats, both with serious head injuries. There was one body inside the remains of the fuselage and two outside. The one inside obviously had survived the crash, for he had taken some of the clothing off the others, like a couple of greatcoat and memorial Ben A Bhuird to keep himself warm.  He had sustained severe injuries, for a blood stained towel was wrapped round his head. I remember I was very surprised to see a unopened bottle of Gordon’s gin lying outside the wreck. I made a note of the number of the plane, it was PH404. The number always stuck in my mind because of the well – known chemical “Ph” phrase from ny student days.

We left everything as we found it and pressed on to the summit of the sister peak of the range, namely Ben a Bhuird where we ate our picnic lunch. Mind you, I did not have much of an appetite after that discovery. Tomintoul, the highest village in Scotland was on our route home. We found the local Police Sergeant in the Hotel bars and to my surprise and dismay he pooh – poohed our story saying the Police knew of every crash in the Cairngorms and that were obviously mistaken.

memorial Ben A Bhuird

memorial Ben A Bhuird

We drove home to Elgin and reported our discovery to the local Police, who took down all the details and immediately passed them on to the nearest RAF Station. What I learned later was that the Oxford PH404 had set out from 21 PAFU Dalcross on the 10 th of January 1945. I presumed that the crew were on leave and that they were heading for the bright lights of the South, hence the bottle of gin. The aircraft had officially been listed as missing in bad weather and presumed ditched in the Moray Firth. Its real fate was not known until we found it on the summit of Ben Avon some seven months later.

In that part of the Cairngorms the winter snows can be very deep and can last on the top reaches of the hills well into the summer. Heavy snow storms probably lead to the crash but no doubt also covered  the wreckage with a white and cold blanket for several months. This would in some way account for the relative good shape of the bodies when we found them.

I have never returned to the site, but strange to say I caught up with the crash at RAF Dyce when I was posted their prior to my demob. In the course of conversation with the Station CO on my arrival, my interest in mountaineering arose and I told him about finding PH404. He said the Mountain Rescue Team from Dyce had the task of cleaning up the site and right there and then he appointed me Mountain Rescue Officer.

My days with the unit were carefree and enjoyable. We had carte blanche to go wherever we decided for exercise and I had little or no Station Responsibilities.  As we pursued our outdoor exercises in the remote area of Aberdeenshire we could always be sure of picking up  a few dozen eggs  – real eggs not the powdered variety served in the mess. They were greatly appreciated and enjoyed at breakfast time. To ensure my precious eggs did not go astray, I wrote my name clearly on each one!

Archie Pennie

Note  – This is a powerful story of a tragic event and it is wonderful to have Archie’s words on this  day on the hills and its “Gruesome Discovery” I know  a little how Archie must have felt being to many real aircraft crashes in my time with RAF Mountain Rescue.

If anyone knows of Archie and he is still around I love to meet him or speak to his relatives.

This is from Dave Earl – Interesting article Dave. I`ve never been to the Oxford site but am familiar with the circumstances of the crash. Years later Jan Vella`s watch was found at the crash site and returned to the family.

I looked for Archie Pennie for you on the internet, but sad news I`m afraid. Looks like he passed away in 2013 in Canada. Here is his obituary:http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/ottawacitizen/obituary.aspx?pid=167134932

A bit more – The men who unwittingly found the aircraft were Dr James Bain, a Headteacher in Science in Elgin, and Flight Lieutenant Archie Pennie  a local from Elgin who was in the RAF but who was at the time taking a few days leave at his mothers in Elgin. Long-time friends and both keen hill walkers, they had decided to spend their Sunday climbing two mountains in the Cairngorms, namely Beinn a Bhuird (3924 ft / 1196 m) and neighbouring Ben Avon (3843 ft / 1171 m).

They set out at mid-morning from Inchrory, and on approaching the summit of Beinn a Bhuird they found some aircraft debris and soon afterwards part of a wing. Finally, they discovered the remains of the wreck of the Oxford PH404, and alarmingly the bodies of five airmen.

One can only imagine the horror of that awful find high in the Cairngorms at the end of  the war but at least the families would have the knowledge that their loved ones had been located and were no longer missing!  There is still plenty of wreckage on the mountain and I wonder how many know the tragic story! Cairngorm Memorial Project
Memorial plaque placed at PH404 crashsite

On Sunday 18th September 2005, a granite memorial plaque was unveiled, and a service of dedication was held, at the location on Beinn a’ Bhuird where Oxford PH404 crashed in January 1945 killing all onboard.

The instigator behind this memorial was Squadron Leader Sandy Reid, RAFVR Rtd, who is Chairman of Aberdeen and North East Scotland Wing of the Air Training Corps.

Posted in Aircraft incidents, History, Mountaineering, Views Mountaineering | 3 Comments

The Blind Man of Hoy – Red Szell. The Lost Visitors Book?

The Blind Man of Hoy

The Blind Man of Hoy.

The Old man of Hoy is some place and I got this book at Christmas and was saving it. I really enjoyed it and is the tale of the first Blind person to climb the classic climb. The Old Man of Hoy is located of the Orkney Islands and is a pillar of red sandstone standing on a plinth of basalt and is 449 feet high. It was first climbed in 1966  by a group of famous climbers and was watched live on television by about 15 million people. I have visited Hoy on several occasions and even landed on the top by Sea King in my days with RAF Mountain Rescue. This place means a lot to me as after a great friend died of Cancer RAF Mountain Rescue the Team left a small climbs book on the summit. Scotty climbed The Old Man in the 80’s with some of the stars of the day and as a mark of respect the troops left a little climbs book on the summit. When it was completed it was returned to RAF Kinloss it was then a pretty battered book, sodden book that had seen some weather. I wanted it to go to the National library in Scotland but the RAF in its wisdom said no and I was lucky I took a poor copy of it as it was lost and may even lie in some MOD room somewhere or was probably thrown out by some moderniser or two-year wonder. ( The world is the next two years and nothing else matters at times in the RAF)  It has some great tales in it and the inscription inside is magic. The Old man has many memories and we had a great exercise with the local Coastguards in the mid 70’s to help them assist in the event of an injured climber on the stac! What a few nights that was on Hoy and some wild tales of these early days. There was a plan at one time in case of a problem on the Old Man that a team of Rescue experts would be flown in from the mainland out to assist in an evacuation. This is why if you climb on this wild place you must be able to self evacuate not easy if the weather or an accident happens.

We also had a few ascents including a planned night bivy stop on the summit by one of the troops and a wild storm came out of nowhere and the ropes were frayed as he abseiled of in a hypothermia state!   My pension was in doubt there as it was a close run thing, you cannot mess with this place and never relax till your down.

The Battered Visitors Book on the Old Man Of Hoy

The Battered Visitors Book on the Old Man Of Hoy

Hoy – The Hoy Visitors Book. – For Scotty 1958 – 91

Kinloss Mountain Rescue Team.

This small visitor’s book is placed in memory of Derek “Scotty” Scott who sadly died in April this year (1991) aged 33.

The First Ascent Ian Clough on Hoy Photo H. MacInness.

The First Ascent Ian Clough on Hoy Photo H. MacInness.

During his short life Scotty achieved many things one of them was an ascent of the Old Man Of Hoy, a day which Scotty was to treasure.

Hoy the troops in action.

Hoy the troops in action.

“For those who visit this place thinks how precious life is and the many things that you can achieve if we work together!

Hoy and jet

The original line up the stack. Takes the landward face and is essentially a crack climb therefore large cams and hexentrics are useful as are 60m ropes for the descent.

Rustie Baillie, Christian Bonington and Dr Tom Patey 18/Jul/1966

This is from Red Szell book

“From the moment I watched a documentary of Chris Bonington and Tom Patey climb the perpendicular flanks of the Old Man of Hoy I knew that my life would not be complete until I had followed in their footholds. That was in 1983 when I was thirteen. Within months I was tackling my first crags and dreaming of standing atop Europe’s tallest sea stack with the Atlantic pounding 450 feet below. Those dreams went dark at nineteen when I learned I was going blind. I hung up my harness for twenty years and tried to

 

ignore the twinge

old-man-of-hoy-sign

I felt every time The Old Man appeared on TV.’ Middle aged, by now a family man, crime novelist and occasional radio personality, Red Szell’s life nonetheless felt incomplete. He was still climbing, but only indoors until he shared his old, unforgotten, dream with his buddies, Matthew and Andres, and it became obvious that an attempt had to be made. With the help of mountain guides Martin Moran and Nick Carter, and adventure cameraman Keith Partridge, supported by family and an ever-growing following, Red set out to confront the Orcadian giant”

I enjoyed the book and how Red and his team managed to climb the Old Man. His Guides Martin Moran , Nick Carter and all filmed by Keith Partridge is a great account of a grand adventure. Red was in safe hands throughout what a team in support and I enjoyed this book and the preparation involved before the climb took place. In all a good read and recommended.

 

 

Posted in Books, Friends, Mountaineering, Rock Climbing, Views Mountaineering | 2 Comments

Early walk to Greenan Castle and celebration of a life of a Gentle -man.

The weather was wonderful again yesterday and I had an early morning walk along Ayr Beach to Greenan Castle passing so many runners and walkers enjoying the early morning sun. Ayr was shimmering in the distance and what a way to start a busy day ahead. I enjoyed the wander and remember my early rambles along this coast  as a very young lad to the Heads of Ayr and the caves, they seemed so far away then and a world of adventure. I must have been about 10 or 11 and I was allowed that freedom all these years ago by my parents, which I could never repay that love of these places and the freedom they gave me. I was in Ayr for my Brother in Laws funeral he had been ill for a while and though a sad day it was a celebration of a great life. The service was in my Dad’s old church which was packed by many of his congregation, so many memories. It was a hugely moving service, bright colours and laughter at times and the minister Abbey did us all proud. He spoke and there was a great message in his words, my Dad would have been impressed.  There were some tales of Fergus a huge figure in the Church in Brutish Rail,  yet Fergus was so unassuming  what a life and great love for my sister Eleanor his wife and she was as he said “his best friend”, his family and the Church.

Greenan Castle May

This is the way it should be and the family and the minister took us on a great journey on a life of incredible achievement. Fergus loved his family, the church and trains. There  were so many tales, it was incredible, he was the man behind the Scotrail logo a lifetime in Scottish Rail management, and the Coal Industry and what a life he had but it all centred on the family and his values in life.

Scotrail

Scotrail

Yet he was not afraid to tell the Neds to behave on the train if he met them!  Richard his son and Judith gave great eulogies and the church was full of laughter and love and I had a few tears. As we left the 5 Grandkids handed out “Wothers originals sweets”to the congregation a wonderful touch. That was a great idea and all there got so much out of a great celebration of Fergus.s life. It is amazing how much strength folk get from their beliefs and the love of each other, I am always amazed by this even in a time of great sadness,

As I left Church watched my sister and the family shake hands with everyone and the usual Scottish reticence was not there. Folk were smiling and so many old friendly faces and my sister and the family getting so much from each one. The term “Gentle man” is seldom used but Fergus was a gentleman in the true sense. Yet he fought and spoke up for the individual and was scared of no one and always spoke from the heart. Fergus in the last year had a hard time in hospital but it gave us time to appreciate what a man he was and the comments from so many said the same thing. I am glad he is out of his pain and in a better place and as we had a cup of tea at the Hotel after the funeral with many friends, the Arran hills were shinning in the sun. Fergus and Eleanor love Arran and they have so many memories of a great life together.  The family is strong their love immense and as I drove back I have happy memories of a lovely but sad visit to Ayr.

I stopped near the Cairngorms and had a few minutes, the hills were sparkling and though tired it was a great trip home, my mind on overdrive after a bust few days. I cannot wait to get out this weekend and clear the mind on the mountains.

Arran

Arran

Thanks for all the kind words they are appreciated, look after those you love, life is too short  and try to live a good life and care for those you love. Thanks Fergus and family he would be proud of you all. xxxx

Posted in Enviroment, Family, Friends, Mountaineering, Weather | Leave a comment

A Day of visits and travel to Ayr.

Glencoe

Glencoe

I was heading down to my Brother in Laws funeral in Ayr yesterday and it was a day of visits ! I had to get a visit to the hospital in Elgin before I left so I was not away till about 1100. It was a lovely day and the weather incredible , the Cairngorms looking splendid in the sun and still plenty of snow on the big hills! I stopped at Carrbridge to collect my golf shoes the course was looking magic but no time today.

The A9 is getting worked on a huge investment and long overdue and maybe worth using the back roads on the way back? The Laggan road again stunning Creagh Meagaidh still with big snow fields and the Window looking so clear and inviting! The big cliffs were liking prominent in the light! More roads works and I was soon in Fort William with the Ben looking splendid “the hills were calling”but not today.

I had lunch with Sue at Onich a homemade quiche and salad she is recovering from a serious illness and has been a great pal  for many years. She has great views from her house of Ardgour and the Gkencoe Hills and today they looked magnificent.. We caught up all the news but it was a short visit and then off to see Hamish ” the old fox of Glencoe” looking great and full of ideas and plans what a man . The views from his house the mighty cliffs of Glencoe sparking in the sun. What a place to live and what a view!

It was then a great drive to Crianlarich to see Aunty Elma the patron Saint of RAF Mountain Rescue. As always it was a cakes tea and home-made sausage rolls all the gossip and then off to Ayr.

Elmas Cakes

Elmas Cakes

So many great views of Ben More and round to Loch Lomond then the traffic in Glasgow and into Ayr the sun so warm and bright.

Arran was looking great as I got nearer to the reason for my travels visit to my sister . I am going to my Brother in laws funeral today and the house was covered in sympathy cards he was some man. It was lovely to see Eleanor my big sister awaiting her daughter and family and surrounded by love and care. It will be a sad time but Fergus is out of his pain and it will be a celebration of a good and kind Christian man. He was such help to me and many others and so loved by all. He Leaves s huge hole in all our life’s.

It was then of to my nephew Scott and an evening walk along the beach. It was so busy and Arran as the sun set was magnificent the air still warm and so many out enjoying the evening .

Arran

Arran

Posted in Aircraft incidents, Family, Friends | 4 Comments

Valley Uprising – a great film about the history of the wild climbers, Base Jumpers and wing suits of Yosemite.

The Valley Uprising

Valley Uprising

I have been lucky to spend time in the climbing Mecca of Yosemite and what a place to be. It is a place John Muir loved and yet has been so commercialised almost making this place of wildness seem out of place. Yet away from the people it in an incredible place. I loved the history of the area and the battles to keep its wildness.  I was very lucky to be working with the Yosemite SAR on my lecture tour in the USA in 2008. i made contact with many of the climbers including the “rock guns” the young climbers from camp 4 who helped the Rescue services and built up a trust with each on what was a rocky past between the Rangers and the climbers. It was a wonderful time and I learned so much about this incredible place. I met so many great people and must get back before I am to old.  Three times a week they held a theatre near the Visitor Centre and there were various plays about John Muir and others like the Buffalo soldiers and the fight to keep the land for the people.

What a setting for some culture.

USA - Heavy Yosemite Falls

USA – Heavy Yosemite Falls

I loved it and most days I went for a wander to the waterfalls and trails doing half Dome before the snow left. I walked many of the trails before most were up to miss the crowds and the trees,waterfalls and wild life showed me many things that only nature can bring. It made me think about the environment and added to a month at Unity College in Maine a free thinking Environmental place where it shaped my thinking for the future.

Indian Paint brush.

Indian Paint brush.

I was advised by an old pal to get the DVD “Valley Uprising and it was well worth the effort. It is not just the climbing, Base Jumping or crazy other wild things that happen in the Valley. I love the place and the film is magic, you have to watch it and see for yourself.

Crazy things happen in Yosemite

Crazy things happen in Yosemite

For the past fifty years, Yosemite’s massive cliffs have drawn explorers and madmen to leave materialism behind and venture onto the high, lonesome granite. The larger-than-life characters of Yosemite carved out an extreme bohemian lifestyle in the valley: living in the dirt, clashing with the National Park authorities, and pioneering the boldest climbs on earth. The torch has been passed across three generations of climbers; through rivalries, tragedies and triumphs, the art of Yosemite climbing has advanced beyond anyone’s imagination. Narrated by acclaimed actor Peter Sarsgaard (Garden State, Jarhead, An Education) and produced by Emmy® Award-Winning Sender Films with Big UP Productions, Valley Uprising deftly recounts the history of Yosemite’s bold tradition: half a century of struggle against the laws of gravity, and the laws of the land. Starring Yosemite climbing legends Dean Potter, Alex Honnold, Lynn Hill, Jim Bridwell, Royal Robbins, Warren Harding, Yvon Chouinard, John Bachar, “Chongo” Chuck and so many more… Special Features include Bonus footage, extras, and behind the scenes. A Film by Peter Mortimer and Nick Rosen Edited by Josh Lowell Produced by Peter Mortimer, Nick Rosen, and Zachary Barr.

Royal Arches

Royal Arches

If you visit to climb or walk worth a visit to the  Yosemite Theatre features nightly performances, films and talks that reveal Yosemite’s history and little-known stories. Visitors will enjoy new shows with sing-alongs about the park and performances about the characters who have helped shape the nation’s natural lands, along with popular favourites about seeing Yosemite through a climber’s eyes, the park’s natural phenomena and, ranger search and rescue operations.

Yosemite SAR

Yosemite SAR

One of several programs to premiere this year is “Creative Fusion: Exploring the Nature of the Sierra Nevada” in which Ranger Erik Westerlund uses the whimsical art of renowned minimalist artist Charley Harper, music, games and storytelling to take the audience for an armchair nature walk. Another new program is “Yosemite by Song and Story,” a toe-tapping evening of storytelling, music and singing with Gail Dreifus about nature and ecology involving the whole audience. In “Ask John Muir,” every show is new as actor Lee Stetson embodies the father of our national parks, John Muir, in a Q-and-A format with the audience.

John Muir

John Muir

Yosemite Art Center programs in the Valley give visitors a chance to paint Half Dome, capture wildflowers on paper, or learn a new, artistic way of looking at Yosemite’s wonders. Artists of all levels and ages create permanent mementos of fun-filled days in the park with help from acclaimed artists.

2008 Sierrar Nevada Yosemite flowers 1

For the first time, the Yosemite Art Center will offer a workshop called “Bits and Pieces” with artist Laura Morales showing visitors of all ages how to create mosaics with materials ranging from the traditional to the recycled. A new workshop by artist Bill Bartelt teaches painters of all skill levels basic watercolor techniques and how to use these techniques to depict scenes achieving a “sepia” effect, similar to early photographic studies of the Valley, in “Capturing the Splendor of Yosemite in Sepia.” Visitors will learn to break conventional rules of watercolor through bold compositions, unusual perspectives and fascinating textures with artist Patricia Osborne in a fun day of sketching and using color for all skill levels in “Watercolor Fun and Loose.”

Rescue on El Cap

Rescue on El Cap

Art workshops run now through October 31, 2015 and are held outdoors Monday through Saturday starting at 9:45 a.m. and ending at 2 p.m. at the Yosemite Art Center, located near the Village Store in Yosemite Valley. Registration is $10 per person. There is also a workshop for beginners on Sunday afternoon for $15. Advance sign-up is recommended by calling 209-372-1442 or by emailing artcenter@yosemiteconservancy.org.

Also this season at Yosemite Theater, visitors can see the beauty of Yosemite in all four seasons in a stirring film narrated by world renowned rock climber Ron Kauk. Filmmaker Steve Bumgardner conveys untold stories about subjects in the making of the popular “Yosemite Nature Notes” series ranging from high-altitude plant species to stunning natural phenomena, such as Yosemite moonbows and frazil ice. The Yosemite Search and Rescue team will share thrilling stories and cautionary advice with photography from actual Yosemite rescue operations.

Big bags on El Cap

Big bags on El Cap

Yosemite Theater performances and programs are held seven nights a week at 7 p.m. at the Yosemite Theater behind the Valley Visitors Center. Tickets are $8 for adults, $4 for children under 13, and children under 4 are free. Tickets are available at Yosemite Conservancy Bookstores and at Tour & Activity Desks.

Through the support of donors, Yosemite Conservancy provides grants and support to Yosemite National Park to help preserve and protect Yosemite today and for future generations. Work funded by the Conservancy is visible throughout the park, in trail rehabilitation, wildlife protection and habitat restoration. The Conservancy is also dedicated to enhancing the visitor experience and providing a deeper connection to the park through outdoor programs, volunteering, wilderness services and its bookstores. Thanks to dedicated supporters, the Conservancy has provided more than $92 million in grants to Yosemite National Park. Learn more at yosemiteconservancy.org or call 1-800-469-7275.

Posted in Films, Rock Climbing, Views Mountaineering | 2 Comments

A New updated MacInnes Stretcher needs cash for development – Some thoughts and the latest update BBC news.

  • A new version of a folding stretcher used by mountain rescue teams, the military and the emergency services since the 1960s is being developed.The MacInnes Stretcher, invented by mountaineer Hamish MacInnes, is being made at a workshop in Inverness.However, 85-year-old Dr MacInnes’ and engineer Richard Glanville’s work on the mark 8 (Mk 8) has been affected by ill-health and family losses.Development has restarted but with dwindling finances to fund it.Mountain rescue teams, including Glencoe MRT which Dumfries and Galloway-born Dr MacInnes helped to set up in 1961, have been highlighting an appeal for funds for the project.The Mk 8 is being designed to be lighter and tougher than previous versions by using a composite, a product made with two or more materials such as carbon fibres.Mr Glanville is leading the active production of the stretcher because of Dr MacInnes’ health. The veteran mountaineer continues to supervise the project.

    But over the past two-and-half years, Mr Glanville work on the new stretcher has been affected by his treatment for cancer, his father’s death and then becoming the main carer of his mother before she too died.

    Production is now under way again at the engineer’s workshop in the Highlands, but not without continuing challenges, including Mr Glanville selling his house to raise funds for the project.

    2008 Mac Innes Mk 6

    2008 Mac Innes Mk 6

    The engineer said: “The switch to composites has forced a fundamental rethink of the way the Mk 7’s components worked.

    “Armed with the experience gained from the Mk 7 and the properties of the advanced composite material, many of the fittings have been total redesigned.

    “The end result will be a greatly improved stretcher but inevitably this work has extended the development time.”

then and now - Copythen and now 2

 

  •  He added: “The benefits to the rescue teams from the new MacInnes Mk8 rescue stretcher will make the sacrifice well worthwhile.”
  • hAMISH 2016
Posted in Equipment, Mountain rescue, mountain safety, Views Mountaineering | 1 Comment

Fears for Climbers and Walkers? A few thoughts on making life easier for those who sit and wait at home.

My local paper Headline today

My local paper Headline today – a fair article? Worth a read. 

Many outside of the Mountaineering world will not realise that the mountains in Scotland continue to take a toll.  This year there have been 11 fatalities on the Scottish Mountains according to the Media, every one a tragedy. At present there are 4 others missing one for over a year in the Scottish Mountains. I have always been interested in Mountain Safety and was the Statistician for the Scottish Mountain Rescue for some years. I  have noticed along with others who looked at this recently that three of the missing are solo male walkers in their 60’s, my age group!  What can we do?

Firstly as Heather Morning the Mountain Safety Officer says ” thankfully most of us return home safely” but for a few others a day out can end in tragedy and trauma that can go on for years. Yet for the families of the “missing”  these are terrible times.

In my 40 years involvement in Mountain Rescue I have searched for climbers and walkers a few who seemed to have vanished. The anguish of the relatives and families is unforgettable and as mountaineers and walkers we should always bear this in mind when we venture out. Many families are still in touch and the loss of a loved one in the mountains especially if they remain missing for a long period is heartbreaking for all the family. It is tragic time for all concerned and Mountain Rescue Teams, SARDA and other Agencies continue to search long after the Media leave.

Give the teams and idea where to look - leave a note with a friend of your intentions.

Give the teams and idea where to look – leave a note with a friend of your intentions.

Some advice that I give out in my lectures on Mountain Safety is given below:

If going out alone please tell someone where you plan to go, its easy leave a message or text someone your intentions. I have a hill buddy who I tell or my Stepdaughter and on the summit leave a message by text when possible. It is easy and saves a huge amount of worry for those who sit and wait while we enjoy these wild places. A simple call when down at your transport so easy and it is not hard to do. If something goes wrong then the Rescue Agencies have a start point!  It is worth leaving a note on a Bothy or your tent simple route! These are the first places that the Rescue Agencies will check if you go missing! Some say it takes away from the solitude of being in the wild ! Tell that to a relative that is waiting  or as I have seen and heard them shouting into the hills for their missing father, husband child! It’s a no brainer for me, I have seen this grief close – up it horrendous!

As we get older common sense tells most of us we cannot do as much as in our youth so plan your day accordingly and enjoy what you do. You are not that 21 years old but still can have great days. A slip or a fall can be serious so take care, many accidents start with a simple slip!

I also feel as we get older for many our eyesight gets a bit worse, I have unfortunately wore spectacles all my life so it’s not new to me. I have learned for many years to cope, I enlarge up my maps on the computer so in bad weather I can see the cliffs/ danger areas without my glasses. Many of this age group are coming to grips with wearing spectacles add rain and snow and you could have a viability problem. The screens on phones and GPS in bad weather can be hard to see and batteries can fade all in a normal day in the mountains.

Does this ring a bell? Navigation is a huge part of mountain accidents so the old thought ” I know the hills like the back of my hand” is to me rubbish. Get your map out and compass and practice your skills no matter how big your ego is. I learn every time I go out and skill fade is so relevant as we get older.

Please take this advice as I go out often on my own and love it and if you take care it is wonderful in the mountains at this time of year.

Safe walking and climbing.

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