Mountain Safety – The Mountain Cafe Aviemore a Lecture Wed 10 th Feb 2016 at 2000 Hours. Sponsored by the Munro Society.

Location: The Mountain Cafe, 111 Grampian Road, Aviemore, PH22 1RH
Start Date/Time: Wednesday 10th February 2016, 20:00:00


Mountaineering Council Of Scotland. Well worth joining?

Mountaineering Council Of Scotland. Well worth joining?

The MCofS has teamed up with the Mountain Cafe, Aviemore and the Munro Society

Munro Society Logo.

Munro Society Logo.

to offer you a fascinating insight into Scotland’s mountains in winter and some essential safety advice for heading into the hills at this time of year.

The Lamp

The Lamp

In this free lecture Heavy Whalley, a legendary ‘character’ who for many years was intensely involved in RAF Mountain Rescue, and is an acknowledged expert in the field, will share his photos, personal anecdotes and adventures.

The Munro Society

The Munro Society

The lecture will focus on essential skills for folk heading out into the Scottish Winter Mountains, including navigation, avalanche awareness, route choice, equipment, weather and much more.

The Mountaineering Council of Scotland’s Winter Safety Lectures (sponsored by The Munro Society) are taking place at The Mountain Cafe in Aviemore. David Whalley .

10th February: Heavy Whalley MBE
17th February: Heather Morning

Booking essential on 01479 812473 – pre-lecture meals available (£12), meals will be served at 7pm. – If no meal available the lecture is free please come along.

The Munro Society

Founded in 2002 membership is open to mountaineers who have climbed all the Munro summits in Scotland as listed in Munro’s Tables – currently there are 282 mountains of Munro status with a height of 3000ft or more above sea level. Many such Munroists, who are often said to have ‘compleated’*, register their detail with the Clerk of the List. This official list is maintained by the Clerk on behalf of the Scottish Mountaineering Club and now exceeds 5,000 names. However, a substantial percentage of ‘compleaters’ do not register their details for a variety of reasons.

The Munro Society welcomes all Munroists who have compleated whether or not they have registered with the Clerk of the List.

The Society exists to bring together the wealth of mountain experience that members have accumulated and thus provide a forum in which to share interests and concerns as well as creating opportunities for convivial gatherings.The objectives of the Munro Society are:

  • To secure access to and conservation of Munros as areas of wild mountain land.
  • To foster social and cultural exchange between members.
  • To establish and maintain an archive of material relative to the Munros and Munroists.

* The term ‘compleation’ has been used by various Clerks of the List for many years. Compleat is an archaic spelling of complete.

For more information see

It may be well worth coming along and enjoying a fun evening and maybe getting a few pointers on enjoying the Mountain in winter?

Enjoying the wild Cairngorms safely?

Enjoying the wild Cairngorms safely?

Today’s tip – Do you have and ice axe and crampons even more important do you know how to use them?

Get out with experienced friend or take a course and learn the basic skills. It may save your life?

Posted in Bothies, Enviroment, Equipment, Gear, Mountain rescue, mountain safety, Munros, Scottish winter climbing., SMC/ sMT, Views Mountaineering, Weather | Leave a comment

Mountain Rescue – a few thoughts?

Yesterday I had been asked to go live on radio today on my views about the changes within Scottish Mountain Rescue. My blog had got a bit if attention in the media and from a few who commented on it and I suppose I had to do it. Late last night  there was a joint Statement issued by the the Vice Chair of Scottish Mountain Rescue and the spokesmen for the three teams Glencoe, Lochaber and Cairngorm. The statement is to the point and said despite of any differences the job of assisting those in trouble in the mountains and wild places  throughout Scotland will still be done. As the Statement  says “its business as usual”. I phoned the media in the morning  and said that the statement issued by the spokesmen in my mind says it all and we should leave it to the teams and the authorities to come up with any  solutions. The Statement is on yesterdays Blog.

“We must stress that no teams have actually “left” SMR and there is no “split”. GLC would still wish to be affiliated to SMR and will continue to support the wider mountain rescue community in whatever way they can. Where appropriate we believe that the current healthy exchange of skills to facilitate training and information exchanges within the organisation will continue irrespective of the outcome of current discussions.
So, if you are unfortunate enough to need to call on the services of a mountain rescue team anywhere in Scotland then don’t worry …. it’s very much business as normal and we will drop what we are doing, grab the packs and head out to help you! We would hope that we can be allowed to continue our work without the need to make further comment at this time.” From the statement.

I wish all the parties involved all the best for the future and agree there has to be changes.

I withdrew my offer to speak and left it to them.

We follow in the footsteps of giants

In my 40 years of Mountain Rescue there have been so many changes and today is sadly the Anniversary of the Wessex Crash on Ben More on Crainlarich which killed the Killin Mountain Rescue Team Leader Harry Lawrie.

1st February, 1987 was an almost spring like day and no-one would have anticipated the dark cloud that would fall on the team by nightfall.  Called in the afternoon to Balquhidder the team recovered the body of a climber who had collapsed near Inverlochlarig. The team was diverted to Ben More following a report of a climber having fallen on the snow covered top.   The team set out on the hill prior to a Wessex helicopter picking up two team members to assist them with a search of the hillside.   Unfortunately when attempting to land on the hillside the helicopter rotor struck a rock crashed into the hillside and slid down towards the team already on the hill.   Team members immediately entered the wreckage and assisted the occupants from the helicopter before it was engulfed in flames.  Unfortunately Team member Sergeant Harry Lawrie had been thrown from the aircraft sustaining fatal injury.  Team member Constable Ian Ramsay and the air crew seriously injured in the crash were treated on scene and evacuated in a second helicopter to hospital.   The job however was not finished and the team returned at first light to recover the body of the climber whose fall had instigated the incident.

This is what I wrote about it a few years ago:

Yesterday I received lots of interest on my blog on the Wessex Crash on Ben More 25 years ago today. As I said my thoughts are with the Killin Mountain Rescue Team as they recognise this sad anniversary with a walk up Ben Ledi where Harry’s Memorial is. Many of the people who called or emailed I have not heard for may years and is was wonderful to hear their thoughts even on such a sad occasion.  So I will spare a thought for Killin MRT and Harry’s family today. I feel it is important that these tragedies are not forgotten and that these stories and tales are  told. There are so many programmes on the television showing rescues, sometimes making it all look so easy. At times this is not the case and some things can go wrong especially in the mountains. We have a history of service in Mountain Rescue to be proud of. This is based on a wonderful heritage of police, keepers, shepherds, locals and climbers from the early days of mountaineering helping fellow mountaineers in trouble. Long may it continue.

The Killin Mrt has a good website and tells the tales of the early day ‘s in mountain rescue, well worth a look and a cause worth donating too. It has a great tales of  a rescue where the shepherds and team were in Ben Lui’s Central Gully, some with shepherds crooks, no ice axes or crampons. This was in winter, amazing stuff and Hamish Mc Innes advising them to get some crampons and axes! The team went to Glenmore Lodge for some training after that!

Harry mem

I hope today the weather holds for the walk up Ben Ledi and I am sure it will, we mountaineers can be so selfish and the mountains can become our mistress and our families suffer. Today is a day for Harry’s family who will be there along with the some of the Killin team. It will be a day of mixed emotions but a proud day of how a team coped with a terrible tragedy. Harry would be so happy of the legacy he has left with a strong capable team that have saved many lives. It is a huge part of the community not just in the mountains but in many other ways. The family will have so many friends with them today all thinking about them, they will not be alone.

Today give everyone a hug in memory of Harry.

Harry Lawrie Killin MRT. RIP.

Lest We forget.








Finally with so much  media interest and debate ensuing and it being played out in the open, now must be the time to take positive action to create a new future for the benefit of all.

Over to you

Posted in Alaska, Mountain rescue, Mountaineering, Views Mountaineering, Views political | Leave a comment

Joint statement by Miller Harris, spokesperson for Glencoe, Lochaber and Cairngorm MRTs (GLC) and member of Lochaber MRT and Steve Penny, Acting-Chair SMR and member of Tweed Valley MRT –

Joint statement by Miller Harris, spokesperson for Glencoe, Lochaber and Cairngorm MRTs (GLC) and member of Lochaber MRT and Steve Penny, Acting-Chair SMR and member of Tweed Valley MRT –
There has been considerable press and social media cover about the decision of Glencoe, Cairngorm and Lochaber MRT’s (GLC) to resign their voting membership of Scottish Mountain Rescue. We both feel that while it is healthy to debate these issues, some of the comments are misinformed and not representative of the position or views of the respective parties within SMR.
Whilst our geographic areas and operational demands are different across Scotland, we all have one thing in common, which is that we are volunteers and as volunteers, we probably have more in common than our differences.
The teams that collectively deliver mountain rescue and search and rescue services across Scotland can deploy personnel into every part of the country and those in need can be comforted in the knowledge that they will receive a world class service that will cost them nothing.
The primary purpose of around 1000 volunteers, currently in SMR, is to offer a wide range of skills that are appropriate to their own local area. Whatever happens in respect of the administration of the organisation, none of that will change …. every team has been set up and runs as its own body and most have done so for around 50 years.
The current discussions have largely been imposed on us all as volunteers by the pressures created by outside influences. We have seen significant changes which have put considerable pressures on rescue teams and the demands on volunteers’ time. This has resulted in increased expectations on what volunteers will contribute in support of reduced resources in the non-voluntary sector. Decisions are being made at a strategic level which ultimately impact on operational expectations of volunteers.
The national body, now called Scottish Mountain Rescue (a charity in its own right), strives to represent all teams. The organisation has been around for 50 years and no-one would ever deny that any organisation with that history must review and refresh to meet the needs of an ever changing operational landscape. So, yes, GLC feel that the national body has lost focus from their point of view and that needs to be resolved. It is healthy that teams can feel that they can question and challenge an organisation that exists to help them deliver at the sharp end. We must accept that Scottish Mountain Rescue (the charity) is entering a period of change, however, Scottish mountain rescue (the activity) as delivered by the teams across Scotland will continue as it has always done.
We must stress that no teams have actually “left” SMR and there is no “split”. GLC would still wish to be affiliated to SMR and will continue to support the wider mountain rescue community in whatever way they can. Where appropriate we believe that the current healthy exchange of skills to facilitate training and information exchanges within the organisation will continue irrespective of the outcome of current discussions.
So, if you are unfortunate enough to need to call on the services of a mountain rescue team anywhere in Scotland then don’t worry …. it’s very much business as normal and we will drop what we are doing, grab the packs and head out to help you! We would hope that we can be allowed to continue our work without the need to make further comment at this time.

End Of Statement

Business as usual

Business as usual

Thank you for the statement above and I wish you and the teams all the best for the future. Have a safe winter and great that “it’s very much business as normal and we will drop what we are doing, grab the packs and head out to help you! We would hope that we can be allowed to continue our work without the need to make further comment at this time.”

Posted in Mountain rescue, Views Mountaineering | 2 Comments

Yesterday was a busy day on the Blog and Twitter after the announcement on Scottish Mountain Rescue “Split”.

Many thanks to all who read and contributed to my short Blog on the split inside Mountain Rescue that was broken by the media yesterday. I received so many replies on Face Book, Twitter and my blog over 2000 hits on the blog alone. All the replies that came through the Blog are shown on yesterdays piece and are well worth a read.

The hard work of a Rescue.

The hard work of a Rescue.

I was glad that most of the comments were sensible and many see why this has happened within Mountain Rescue. The pressure on some  teams due to the ever-increasing tasks they are asked to do outside their initial remit is relentless for some teams and Mountain Rescue should never be used as cheap labour, a point that was stressed by many.  Most of our  Outside Agencies are having hard times due to financial cuts and I can only see this getting worse and as the population ages we will have in my mind more incidents that fall into the Non Mountaineering category. Mountain Rescue Teams will be called to assist in these and how can you not get involved in local problems in times of crisis. These could be natural disasters,floods or heavy snow where the local services need help. Young children going missing or searches for vulnerable people (it could be your family)  in your area. These things occur and as we know there is so much more pressure on services and people nowadays.   I am sure there is no way that Mountain Rescue would not assist in local incidents as some have commented on.

In the end it will may need the “Wisdom of Solomon” to sort it out  but I do agree it is now time to discuss and decide on the future of Mountain Rescue. Is it time to use and train other  agencies that can help ease the pressure, these may mean big changes for the future? The Search and Rescue Dog Association (SARDA) cope with the different aspects of their tasking and had a split many years ago that works well now!

Maybe it takes decisions like these to let the authorities understand what they have and not to take it for granted?

Thanks again for all the comments and advice and please read some of yesterdays comments that are on the Blog, they make great reading!

Now let’s get this weather sorted and out on the hill as that is what its all about!



Posted in Articles, Mountain rescue, mountain safety, Views Mountaineering | 7 Comments

Sad days as split in Mountain Rescue Teams in now out in public. Times are a changing and maybe a time for leadership?

Today the media broke the news that Scotland’s three busiest mountain rescue teams have said they intend to leave the body which has co-ordinated the service for 50 years.

“The Cairngorm, Glencoe and Lochaber teams said they had  according to the media “lost faith” in Scottish Mountain Rescue (SMR) as their representative body.” BBC News These are three great teams where I have many memories working  over many years and still friends in the teams who I respect and are still there to this day. This decision would not have been taken lightly?

There will be much written on this over the next few days in the media and I was aware what was happening for a few months. I spoke at the Mountain Rescue Conference in November at Glenmore Lodge and stated that in my view  the teams would be “better together” and hoped that the dispute could be sorted. Yet changes may be needed within the organisation and change is never easy. I was part of the executive of Scottish Mountain Rescue for over 20 years serving as the Chairman/ Vice Chair and Statistician. There was no need for me to be involved personally  as I was part of the RAF Mountain Rescue Service and wanted to assist the overall civilian organisation. We in the RAF MR had great gear and funding from MOD and I was always amazed at how the civilian teams coped with limited funds all raised locally. I was one of the first who sowed the seed for public funding despite many who felt that this could be difficult as it may come with political pressure.  Yet many of the smaller teams really struggle financially  to this day for funding away from the popular and populated mountain areas, this funding however small is crucial to them and they needed government financial assistance. Is this is the time for a leader to come forth and ensure that any changes are beneficial to all concerned.

Mountain Rescue their to help others in the wild places.

Mountain Rescue their to help others in the wild places.  We all will help each other in trouble in the mountains and wild places no matter what. That will never change  – photo 1958 Ben Nevis !


Without a doubt in my mind it is time for change and hopefully there will not be a huge fall out between teams, that is not what Mountain Rescue needs or is about. In the end as we all are aware it is the casualty that comes first and I am sure that those in trouble in the wild places will still be looked after by all the teams involved, no matter what politics are happening behind the scenes.

The Police are in overall charge of Rescue as we all are aware maybe it is time for them to take a lead and hopefully advise on the way forward. This may ensure those who love the mountains and have spent much of their lives involved with Mountain Rescue that there will be limited effect in these troubled times. Too many in the teams will not effect them as they are the work horses who just get out and on with the task whatever it is. Politics are thankfully not their worry. When Public money comes in to the equation as the government £312000 funding has done then things can change. Yet in my mind the three teams involved have never stated that this is the problem as they have huge fund raising profile though they have to work at it.

Mountain Rescue has changed dramatically and approximately one-third are now Non – mountaineering incidents involving searches for vulnerable people, missing children,  and many urban and rural searches. Mountain Rescue personnel are heavily involved in these aspect as many occur in their local areas. The financial restraints of recent years have effected many services and Police man power  and financial pressures by the government would never cope if these responsibilities were not covered by Mountain Rescue Teams.  The task has changed dramatically over the years and this can involve huge man – hours by teams. Is it time for a re -appraisal of Mountain Rescue and the tasks they do for the public?

It should never be taken for granted, that these are unpaid volunteers who give their time to help others and often huge personal time. There may be difficult times ahead but change is never easy maybe things may happen now, I am sure that a solution is out there?

Should the Politicians get involved?

So many questions, how many answers?

Any views?


Posted in Mountain rescue, Mountaineering, Views Mountaineering, Views political | 31 Comments

Memories of the land rover – Farewell the Land Rover – Defender

Team Leaders Course Exercise in North Wales 4 RAF teams involved and lots of landrovers

Team Leaders Course Exercise in North Wales 4 RAF teams involved and lots of landrovers.

Today is a wild day in the North of Scotland where gales have shut many bridges and few ferries are running. A few roads are closing due to landslides and fallen trees. Wind just recorded of Cairngorm summit 132 mph.   It is also the day of the last  Landrover Defender will roll off the production line later ending 67 years of the popular 4×4 being made. Jaguar Land Rover has discontinued the iconic off-road vehicle, which has been exported across the world. More than two million have been made since the original Land Rover Series began production in Solihull in 1948.

Landrovers and RAF MR - what a history !

Landrovers and RAF MR – what a history !

I would imagine all over Scotland there will be so many land rovers saving the day as they have for many years. What places they have been so many ferry’s many now gone apart from Arran,  long waits for Skye and many others, great days!

1974 Troops Ferry

The No Ferry ploy!

On the way to Ben Alder crossing the river Pattock.

On the way to Ben Alder crossing the river Pattock.

The RAF Mountain Rescue for so many years has had the landrover  up till recently as the Mountain Rescue workhorse and many of the civilian Teams really on them. Please find a few photos of past adventures in the famous “landies”

1973 Desert Rescue Andover Move

1973 Desert Rescue Andover Move

The RAF Teams overseas also used the land rovers this is the Masirah Team in action in the Persian Gulf, life was very simple then.  In the photo above the team practices deployment into the desert with the Andover aircraft!

On the way to Skye - Dog on the roof!

On the way to Skye – Dog on the roof!

We had some great help from the estates and allowed to drive into some of the remoter Munros in Scotland’s wild places. Unfortunately I was not and still am not the best driver and in my 37 years had a few epics, it was not the vehicle but my lack of skills as a driver.

Up in Affric near the Youth Hostel - Whalley's folly No 1

Up in Affric near the Youth Hostel – Whalley’s folly No 1

Over the years we did many call -outs in wild weather and we had to know the hill tracks well and we learnt many of our skills the hard way. No off-road training could train you for a winter drive into these remote tracks and hills.

Winter Whalley's Folly No 2 .

Winter Whalley’s Folly No 2 .At Ben Dronaig !

The land rover was our and many others work horse and after a long search in these remote mountains it was great to see the land rover at the end of a hard day. Then you had to get back to Base usually in the dark, it may be snowing and across the swollen streams . Often we went out walking in front to find the way home. They never let us down!

At Fannich Lodge.

At Fannich Lodge.

I spent many happy days in the Land  Rover from a young age we adapted them over the years and one was our Control Wagon for many years and was a place I spent many long days and nights in.

1990 Harris Shack crash control

1990 Harris Shack crash control.

My early days we young ones travelled in the back of the 3 tonners to Base Camps and only many years later were we privileged to get a seat in the land rover! The journey was about 2 – 3 hours in winter at times it could be a  wild trip, we were in sleeping bags and maybe a few beers passed the time. On the way back it was great on a Sunday night to get a sleep after a hard weekend.

1973 Loch Arkaig Control wagon - me just a bairn with Abbs Hay George Bruce.

1973 Loch Arkaig Control wagon on an early call -out  – me just a bairn with Abbs Hay, Team Leader George Bruce and Archie Melrose..

I leave you with a few memories of the land rover. My worst one was waking up on the Loch Ness Road on the way out to a weekend when Paul Burns the driver and myself fell asleep and we woke up with the wagon somersaulting many times and ending upside down. We both walked out a bit battered but alive. We were so lucky I never fell asleep again whilst a passenger!

Oh No - Eric Highes

Oh No – Eric Highes, Paul Burns, Bodger, Heavy and Dave Wood.

In days of old :We used to be able to drive to Ben A Bhuird and climb the routes, a few times we got caught in bad weather trying to find the way off in a summer snow storm. We also gave a few civilian climbers a lift off the hill ( against the rules) after a days climbing on Mitre Ridge or Squarface.

Top of Ben A Bhuird landy

Top of Ben A Bhuird

Memories – The Wessex and the land rover

Great days

Great days

And More  – lots of past tales from the back of a land rover!

1987 handover landy LMRT

1987 handover LMRT

Always there where ever you were the old land  – rover, thanks!

1974 masirah wagons-001

1974 Masirah wagons at base camp.






Posted in Gear, History, Mountain rescue | Leave a comment

Avalanche Survey – Can you help.

Can you help Sam ?  Fr om UKC Climbing Forums.

1995 Avalanche

Hey guys/ gals – I’m in dire need of a few keen people to quickly fill in a survey about the SAIS and your Scottish avalanche experiences. It has been timed to take only 3-4 minutes to complete and the findings will be supplied to various relevant interested bodies and will help enormously in my final year dissertation. Thanks loads in advance! Sam. N.
Click on the link below…

Posted in Avalanche info, Mountain rescue, mountain safety | Leave a comment