Page 1

The Magazine of


MOUNTAIN RESCUE The Mountain Rescue Committee of Scotland



Issue 32 Nov 2013

Supported by the Order of St.John



All enquiries regarding letters, photographs and features for publication should be submitted to the Editorial staff Design Editor Any queries regarding artwork, design and layout etc should be forwarded to the Editor Dave Cawthorn, Tel:- 01750 32342 Mobile:- 07702 162913 email :- ALL ENQUIRIES REGARDING ADVERTISING SALES SHOULD BE DIRECTED TO Lesley Bryce Advertising Coordinator Articles published in CASBAG do not necessary reflect the views of the Editor or the Mountain Rescue Committee of Scotland. We are very grateful to all contributors and Advertisers. It is not always possible to include submitted features in the current issue. Those omitted are always kept for future use. MRCofS Executive Committee CHAIR Jonathon Hart


VICE CHAIR Steve Penny Mark Leyland Morven Bridges Damon Powell


TREASURER Moira Weatherstone




STATISTICIAN Jim Sudd Police Scotland Delyth Cunnah Bryan Knight ARCC Tom Taylor


Co-opted Members




UKSAROPS (CWG) James Coles j MLTS Graham McDonald MRC Alfie Ingram MC of S Alfie Ingram SMSF Vacant CHAIR RESOURCES GROUP Alastair Rose MAGAZINE EDITOR Dave Cawthorn

Front Cover: Isle Of Skye Unveils Fundraising Campaign For Scottish Mountain Rescue. See Page 10. The Mountain Rescue Committee of Scotland (MRCofS) is a Registered Scottish Charity – Number SC015257


TG14 The Gathering

As the nights draw in and we continue to enjoy fabulous autumnal weather for Munro bagging across the country , many team members thoughts turn to the approaching winter climbing season...:-) I hope this winter season will be as good as last years’, with those amazing spells of high pressure, blue skies and a generous blessing of large volumes of good quality snow across many of our skiing and climbing venues....happy days! However last year was also ,of course, marked by the high number of avalanche fatalties that MR teams responded to across the country and the huge amounts of press interest that was generated (good and bad) as a result of those tragic events. Whilst much media attention was focussed on the 8 fatalties that occurred , it is comforting and important to note that we also saved 17 souls alive from the various avalanches that occurred across the country. In addition all those persons caught in the tragic 12/13 winter avalanche events were located and recovered within a window of 2.5 hours on each occasion which is an oustanding, world class standard of avalanche rescue, particularly in light of the locations and the challenging conditions teams endured. These avalanche rescues are a very high hazard operation for team members (often at night and in blizzard conditions) and no team members were injured during the rescue operations in 12/13, which is obviously a critically important aspect of our response efforts. I am keen that we ensure team member safety is at the forefront of all our minds as we turn to looking forward to this winters new season. So its right for me in my role as Chairman to summarise what we have done to both mitigate the risks to rescuers and also to demonstrate the improvements we have been making in terms of ensuring that we are continuing to provide the best possible chances of survival for those unfortunate to be caught up in these awful avalanche events. Some of our key outputs have been:

So as you sit down and read the latest winter climbing guidebooks and start to plan your winter adventures......please also think about how you can contribute to the wider family that is Scottish Mountain Rescue? Perhaps you can put your effort into a group like the avalanche training group, or you’d prefer to help with our National Resources group , or simply you want to get onto some of the best winter avalanche rescue courses in the world? Either way please get involved Nationally so that we can continue to keep the list of acheivements we are making as we move forward modernising Scottish MR , impressive as they currently are...... Many thanks and have a great winter season, Jonathan Hart Chair - MRCofS


The MRCofS has led the way in working with Police Scotland to provide de briefing processes for all the major avalanche events of last year. This multi agency process has proven very beneficial and has identified a range of lessons learned from the events of winter 2012/13 The lessons learned from the 12/13 avalanche rescues have been shared across the MRCofS avalanche training group and they will be transferred and used to update the various avalanche rescue courses for the 13/14 season The MRCofS equipment officer(s) have been working with equipment suppliers in the design and creation of specific avalanche rescue probing dummies that can be used in our National and local training programmes, with kit passed out to a range of teams We are sending four team members from across Scotland to update IKAR on our avalanche rescue experiences and are posting (for the first time) a formal Scottish avalanche report to IKAR We have used some central funding to purchase a range of new equipment for our National courses so that team members attending on these programmes are using the latest proven avalanche rescue technology on the market The MRCofS has enaged with other safety stakeholders on a large variety of mountain safety education platforms to ensure that improved messaging is going out to those vsiting the Scottish Mountains in preparation for this coming winter We have secured corporate sponsorship from a Ian McLeod Distillery to support the purchase of specialised winter mountain rescue equipment We have met with the Chief Executive of the Scottish Ambulance Service to ensure we continue to receive support from this critically important stakeholder The MRCofS has been working with the Home Office to ensure that we retain our Opiate license in an updated and modern format, commensurate with the context within which MR teams now work We have produced our latest list of dates for our National avalanche rescue training pogrammes for the upcoming season We have been working with Bristows in advance of this winter to ensure that they are aware and familiar with the equipment our tams commonly use on winter call outs. We have worked with the Scottish Government to secure brand new Mk 6 McInness stretchers for all teams. This level of National work and activity goes on quietly in the background , being managed by team members that put themselves forward for National roles, and is just a minor snap shot of the vast range of activity that is completed by the MRCofS on behalf of you the team members.




It was the year the Beatles released their first album and knocked out three number-one singles. Doctor Who had his first inter-galactic adventure and the Dartford Tunnel opened. Ronnie Biggs and his gang pulled off their famous heist, a new Ford Cortina would set you back £675 and the average house price was £3160. JFK was assassinated on a sunny November morning in Dallas and Britain shivered in the grip of the coldest winter in nearly 20 years. It was the last of these that had a profound and lasting legacy in the south of Scotland. Two local shepherds, returning by foot over the Cheviots from Rothbury market on a frigid night in November 1962 were reported missing and found dead the following day, huddled and frozen together

behind a wall. This tragic event was keenly felt in the small rural communities nestling in the foothills, and was the catalyst that inspired the local bobby in Yetholm to form the first police-recognised Search and Rescue organisation in the region, and only the fifth in Scotland. Cairngorm Mountain Rescue was formed the same year. Constable Tony Robinson (no - not the actor who plays Baldrick in Blackadder) and Jack Robb acted as joint team-leaders, and drew their first recruits from the Yetholm Rover Scouts, who were soon joined by a contingent from the Cheviot Walkers Club. Equipment and funding were hard-won. Jack Robb’s Morris pick-up served as the main method of transport and it was in fact not until the early 90s that the unit purchased a team vehicle. Members salvaged wood from old school desks, along with some fishing net from

BSARU 50th Anniversary


she supplied the Eyemouth unit with a rope. and set about making a stretcher. The R.A.F. The local stores, Leeming, Blacksmith Yorkshire, steamed supplied the wooden some other runners into equipment, as shape. It was the team became naturally quite a sub unit of the heavy and had R.A.F. Mountain its first outing Rescue Team being lowered based there. over Staerough Vaux Associated Seymour Haugh and Tony Robinson share a joke Crags. Its first Breweries official use was presented the to transport team in August a pregnant woman from Morebattle. Coal 1964 with a shiny new MacInnes MKII was sledged on it half way to Morebattle stretcher, and a month later the team were where the Morebattle constable met the gifted a pair of two-way radios by a local team with the “casualty” and loads were hotelier. These were supplemented by exchanged! two more from unit funds, and after the Edinburgh commonwealth Games in 1970, Tony Robinson’s sister was a climber and by a number of Pye mobile radios and a


Base. The hike was undertaken in per fect weather.


On Sunday morning nine Rovers and nine R.A.F. men took part in a Sweep Search in the Cheviot area. Wireless Base Camp was set up at the Cuddy Stone and from there the search party set off to search an area of hill near Cheviot. The first sweep proved negative but on the second sweep a “survivor ” was found lying among an outcrop of rocks. The “survivor ” was found to be suffering from Founder-members Frank and Doug Gibson.jpg exposure and a broken left leg. Base was informed by Walkie base-set donated by Edinburgh transport. Talkie radio and soon the “survivor ”, his leg in splints, was securely strapped to Earlier this year a wonder ful archive a rescue stretcher-sledge. By now it was document was uncovered – a diary kept by snowing heavily and the sledge was hauled Jack Robb during the very early days of the to the Hen Hole where the R.A.F. Unit unit, from which the following account of demonstrated the method used to lower a the team’s first combined exercise with RAF stretcher down a sheer sixty foot rock face. Leeming is taken. During the afternoon the Rovers were given the opportunity to fire off distress rockets. “At thirty minutes past midnight on the The walk back to Base was uneventful R.A.F. night of 10th – 11 th January, the whine of transport conveyed us all back to the Den. heavy transport reached the ears of four anxious Rovers standing at the Smiddy The weekend was voted a great success, Corner. Soon the lights of the small R.A.F. and our friends from Leeming were quite convoy loomed through the thick fog – the impressed by our conduct on the hill.” long awaited adventure had begun. The R.A.F. Mountain Rescue Unit from Leeming Post-war “make-do and mend” attitudes had arrived for their combined exercise clearly still prevailed, at least where with our own Mountain Rescue Unit. For thirty hectic minutes all was scurry and hurry, as kit was unloaded from trucks to the Den – then all was quiet again in the Village.


After a few hours’ sleep, both teams assembled at the Den for the first exercise. Six Rovers and nine R.A.F. men took part in a cross-country navigational hike. R.A.F. transport took us as far as Attonburn and from there we made our way in two mixed parties via The Curr – Steer Rig – Halterburn – Staerough and

Heavy Whalley and Tony Robinson

transport was concerned, as the following snippet demonstrates.

On September 26 th this year the team celebrated 50 years of service with a dinner at the Border Hotel in Kirk Yetholm. We were immensely privileged and delighted to have not only the 84-year-old Tony Robinson,


“A practice “Callout” of the Mountain Rescue Team was made at 1930 hrs by Rover Eric Smith. The Crew were assembled at the Centre at 20.00hrs and were taken in a closed horsebox to an unknown destination. At 20.20hrs the Crew were dumped out, and from the map reference given discovered they were at the lay-by near Chatto. The route was from there over Tronshaw Hill (1132ft) Tony Robinson (centre) and Heavy Whalley with current officeto Greenhill, where a search was bearers. to be made for a reported lost person. The night was dark and walking with a stick these days but still foggy and a drizzle persisted, but after a effervescent and twinkly-eyed, but also the little bother the lost person was found and renowned MR expert and raconteur Dave all returned to the Den in the same horse “Heavy ” Whalley. While Tony sat transfixed, box.” Heavy regaled the fifty-odd diners with accounts and anecdotes from a wealth Early training included regular Wednesday of experience with a number of Highland night excursions onto the hill to practice teams. A beautiful commemorative route-finding, rock-work and stretcher sculpture designed and crafted by teamlowering. Courses in navigation, first-aid member Brian Mahler was unveiled and a and mountain survival brought in outside brief history of the team was recounted by instructors, one of whom commented, “it current team-leader Seymour Haugh. was most encouraging to see such a fit, responsible group of adults voluntarily Half a dozen of the founder members offering their services as a Mountain Rescue made it to the dinner and shared stories Team in a potentially dangerous area.” and reminiscences with their modern-day counterparts. Without doubt, the toast of The first notable call-out for the team, in the evening, sitting smiling quietly was the May 1964, involved an all-night search over remarkable Tony Robinson, a man who, with a large area for a girl who had gone missing, precious-few resources at his disposal and losing her bearings by a factor of 180 degrees little but a dream to guide him, fifty years and finding shelter in a disused bothy. The ago had an extremely cunning plan. following year, the team per formed its first genuine rescue when a walker fell on scree, breaking his leg in the remote Heatherhope Valley. He was evacuated on the MacInnes stretcher and carried to the valley floor and a waiting ambulance.


Mountain Rescue UK and Ireland Conference

12-14 September 2014, Aviemore,Scotland Facebook: MrGathering2014 Twitter: @MRGathering2014


Over the weekend of 12-14 September 2014 , Mountain Rescue Teams from Scotland, England, Wales, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland will come together at Aviemore for their biennial conference, for 2014 this is entitled ‘The Gathering’. Aviemore has been chosen as a venue to allow access to the high mountains as well as the huge resources of the Cairngorm National Park. In addition it will be based at the world renowned Macdonald Aviemore Resort with its world-class conference and leisure facilities. The conference will be a mixture of outdoor workshop sessions and indoor lectures aiming to build on relationships within the UK and the Irish Mountain Rescue Communities and share best practice particularly on effective leadership and management of volunteers. It further aims to share the results of research in Search and Rescue education since the previous UK and Irish Conference of 2011. Workshop bookings will be on a first come first served basis and we expect places to book up quickly. The training and workshop sessions will be based on small group sizes to ensure a high quality of delivery and a high level of learning is provided.




Up to 400 of the UK and Ireland’s Mountain Rescue team members are expected to attend the conference including Team Leaders and representatives from the all the volunteer teams which make up Mountain Rescue in the United Kingdom and Ireland a well as the Search and Rescue Dog Association (SARDA), retired team members and affiliated bodies such as the Military Search and Rescue teams, members of the Police, Coastguard and the Association of Lowland search and rescue teams.

Format of the event?

Unlike some of the previous National events we are aiming to spend as much time as possible out of doors (in the Cairngorm National Park) with most of the gatherings of the whole conference being in the social environment. To reflect the diverse range of skills required in modern Mountain Rescue the workshops have been split into five themes: • Human Factors • Search • Medical • Water Rescue • ‘Technical’ Land Rescue There will be a range of workshops chosen by the participants of either, two hours duration (where two in a day are chosen) or a five hour session on the hill. This ability to ‘mix-and-match’ means that those active team members attending the event can get up to the minute training and CPD opportunities of their choice, and, that the event can meet a large range of aspirations and expectations.







15 16 17 Arrival and Registration

Transport Off-site workshops to off-site w orkshop


On-site workshops 1


On-site workshops 2 Transport fm off-site w orkshop


On-site workshops 2

Free time



Whisky Lecture Reception

Transport Free Time fm off-site w orkshop

Transport Off-site workshops to off-site w orkshop

On-site workshops 1


21 Social



Dinner and Ceilidh

Free time

Conference close and Raffle



Conference Welcome


A rough outline of how this may look is shown below.

How do I book on the event?


We plan to take bookings on line and via the Scottish Mountain Rescue office based at Glenmore Lodge. Our on-line booking system will be activated soon. Follow progress on our facebook site (MR Gathering 2014). The process for booking will be simple.... Are you a full team member of a Mountain Rescue team? If yes , 1. Go to our website; (available very soon) and apply on line. 2. Confirm your accommodation preference and workshop choices, submit payment 3. Once your payment has been received (and only then) , the MRCofS will confirm your booking and your workshop allocation Early bookings and payment in advance are advised, given the workshop focus of this event, and the need to confirm numbers for each group well in advance of attendance.




DISTILLER UNVEILS FUNDRAISING CAMPAIGN FOR SCOTTISH MOUNTAIN RESCUE The UK’s highest Mountain, Ben Nevis, provided the dramatic backdrop for world-acclaimed Scottish climber Dave Macleod and Ian Macleod Distillers, one of Scotland’s leading distillers and bottlers, to unveil an exclusive three year sponsorship agreement with Scottish Mountain Rescue today (Wednesday 2 October 2013) through its Isle of Skye 8 Year Old Blended Scotch Whisky. The aim of the partnership is to generate essential funds and raise awareness of the importance of Scottish Mountain Rescue’s voluntary work across Scotland. Over £100,000 has already been invested by the Distiller towards a dedicated‘Isle of Skye Mountain Spirit’campaign, which will contribute specifically to the supply of vital new specialised rescue equipment, support to the SARDA (Search and Rescue Dog Associations) rescue dogs and the provision of highly specialised avalanche rescue training across the Charity’s 26 volunteer Mountain rescue teams in year one of the sponsorship. This is the first commercial drinks partnership undertaken with the umbrella Scottish Mountain Rescue body and the Distiller is demonstrating its commitment with an initial cash donation of £10,000. This will be bolstered by 15p from the sale of each bottle of Isle of Skye 8 Year Old Blended Scotch Whisky going directly to the Charity. A special UK edition of the Isle of Skye 8 Year Old Blended Scotch Whisky, featuring a bespoke Scottish Mountain Rescue label, will be released for sale in the coming weeks. SCOTTISH MOUNTAIN RESCUE NOV. 2013

There has been an annual increase in mountaineering incidents across Scotland over the last few years. On average, there are approximately 600 rescues a year and over 700 people assisted across the 26 volunteer Mountain Rescue teams per annum. In the past winter (2012/13) alone, there were eight avalanche-related fatalities, with the volunteers from Glencoe Mountain Rescue Team responding to one particular avalanche incident that claimed the lives of four people.


commitment to saving lives that’s shown by mountain rescue volunteers is inspiring and the catalyst behind the campaign. “ “There is a natural association between Isle of Skye 8 Year Old Blended Scotch Whisky and Scottish Mountain Rescue, the brand is inextricably linked to the wild, embodying the landscape of Skye – home of the Clan Macleod - the great outdoors and the spirit of endurance.”


With a 70% increase in hill walking and climbing visits to Scotland and typically 991,000 visitors in December and January alone for the purpose of outdoor activities, more and more pressure is being placed on Scottish Mountain Rescue resources. Commenting on the announcement, Chairman of Scottish Mountain Rescue, Jonathan Hart said: “Scottish Mountain Rescue is a world class volunteer service. There are over 1000 volunteers in the 26 Mountain Rescue teams, spread across the whole of Scotland, whom freely and willingly give up their time to assist those in distress in the Scottish Mountains and other inaccessible areas across the country. This volunteer service is available all day, all night and in all weather conditions. Working in partnership with Ian Macleod distillers provides Scottish Mountain Rescue an outstanding opportunity to raise essential funds to support the sustainability of this critically important service”.


“Together, we have identified key opportunities for the funds, raised by this sponsorship, to be directed at the provision of essential avalanche rescue training and for the supply of very specialised winter rescue equipment such as stretchers and avalanche probes that will benefit both the casualties, by providing a faster location and transport time to hospital as well as supporting the volunteer team members with improved safety margins by having available the most up to date equipment available. After the rescue is successfully concluded, they may also enjoy a wee dram!” Neil Boyd, UK Commercial Director for Ian Macleod Distillers, added: “The dedication and unfailing

“The funds raised from the Isle of Skye Mountain Spirit campaign will support integral rescue resources for all of Scotland’s mountains and ultimately help safeguard the hundreds of volunteers who risk their lives on a daily basis to help others. Scottish Mountain Rescue identified a requirement for more specialist avalanche training, stretchers and SARDA dogs and fundraising throughout the coming

year will contribute to these necessary resources. Every bottle sold of Isle of Skye 8 Year Old Blended Scotch Whisky is going to make a direct contribution to Scottish Mountain Rescue and we would anticipate the campaign will help raise awareness of the Charity’s work and hopefully inspire other companies and individuals to come forward and support volunteer efforts.”

including Scottish Tesco and ASDA stores as well as specialist and independents. For more information, visit, contact Scottish Mountain Rescue on 01479 861370 or call Neil Boyd, UK Commercial Director for Ian Macleod Distillers on 01506 852205.

Notes Isle of Skye 8 Year Old Blended Scotch Whisky was created Ben Nevis avalanche survivor, Hannah Mcaleese, aged by the Company’s founder Ian Macleod, whose signature 28 highlights the importance of supporting Scottish appears on the label and bottle top. This award-winning Mountain Rescue: “I was rescued from an avalanche whisky is based on a family recipe that blends distinctive on Ben Nevis in 2006. The support from the Lochaber peaty Island and mellow Speyside Malts. Mountain Rescue team helped me rebuild my life. The strength and dedication of the volunteers cannot be While the majority of Blended Scotch Whiskies are ununderestimated, they go above and beyond their jobs aged, Isle of Skye is unusual in its guarantee that all the and look for no thanks but they need our support too. Single Malts and Grain whiskies used in its blend recipe This campaign is a fantastic way to promote the are matured in oak casks for at least 8 years. invaluable work that they do day in, day out and I’d encourage everyone to get behind this.” This commitment to excellence led to whisky expert Jim Murray commenting in the 2012 Whisky Bible, he Dave Macleod, one of the world’s leading professional rated Isle of Skye 8 Year Old Blended Scotch Whisky as a climbers, added: “I’m really pleased to see Scottish ‘superstar whisky that gives us a reason to live’ Mountain Rescue get the backing they so deserve. It’s Issued by: important that we can all explore the mountains from Audrey Cassels/ Sarah Dedecker a health and wellbeing perspective as well as enjoying Taste Communications Scotland’s countryside all year round. Scottish T: 0131 225 7205 Mountain Rescue plays a vital role in safeguarding E: our wellbeing yet the work of the volunteers goes largely un-noticed. This campaign will be instrumental in helping to raise the profile of the teams’ work and reminds us all why it’s so important to support them.”

The new bottle of Isle of Skye 8 Year Old Blended Scotch Whisky will be available from early October in the on and off trade with stockists


The Isle of Skye Mountain Spirit campaign will be supported by national advertising, PR, fundraising events, a dedicated website with online fundraising function and crucially the new bottle design based on Scottish Mountain Rescue photography with the logo and bottle contribution of 15p from each sale clearly stated on the label.


Four go to Norway Colin MacDougall



t the end of February a selection of Team Leaders from Scottish Mountain Rescue attended the ‘ Leadership in difficult situations Course’ based at Finse, Norway.


SELECTION - MRCofS Chair, Jonathan Hart assured us we were handpicked for the task but we later found out the selection process ran to an application and offer to write a report on return!!. By sheer accident this process resulted in a good cross section of experience and working environments from across Scotland. With Damon Powell (Oban),Kev Mitchell (Ochils), Mark Leyland (Arrochar) and myself representing the Tayside Police unit. As Mark and I are on the MRCofS Search Management group, we intended to compare what we provided in Scotland with the Norwegian training, and if appropriate take on-board any good ideas. As it turned

out the learning process was far more wide-ranging than expected, covering Leadership, incident management (including avalanche), communications and use of GPS for personal safety and incident management. Our hosts were the Norwegian Red Cross who purposefully chose the venue due to its

guaranteed harsh weather !!! (something that wasn’t mentioned in the selection process). Finse is at the North of the Hardangervidda and is only accessible by train, ski or snow-mobile during winter. The hut used is part of the national DNS network and was specifically opened for the course to

accommodate the 25 students, trainers and support staff plus the Scottish and Lebanese contingent. The Norwegian Red Cross is heavily involved in Lebanon and is presently supporting the creation of an organised rescue structure. In order to progress this, a member of the Lebanese Red Cross attended at Finse to observe and participate along with us Scots. HOW IT WORKS - A wee introduction is needed at this point in relation to how mountain rescue is structured in Norway. Very much like Scotland, the response is a multi-agency collaboration with the main organisations being the Police and Red-cross. There is an overarching coordinating organisation – ‘Joint Rescue Coordination Centre’ (JRCC) which runs two control centres in the North and South. The JRCC undertakes the functions of the Police/ ARCC and MCA control centres and has the authority to involve other assets such as commercial helicopters. It incorporates both land based

and maritime SAR in a single function. The Red Cross and other voluntary organisations undertake the general search and rescue capability with the Alpine Rescue teams undertaking technical rescue. Like ourselves the use of dogs in SAR operations is embedded in the structure although there is a separate dog association much like our SARDA.

Participants, trainers and resources were drawn from across Norway including Svalbard. This brought together a wide range of skills and experience, however we won’t be recommending the use of an armed polar bear guard for avalanche rescue in Scotland. In addition, two separate courses were running in parallel (group leadership and dog training/ assessment). This provided resources for the final exercises, bringing a degree of realism.

THE COURSE - So back to the course, held over eight days with 25 participants including 9 Police officers (highest rank Superintendent !!). This was supported by Red Cross and Police volunteers as both training staff and logistical support, which included 20 Snow-mobiles and a technical team to support the incident management and radio infrastructure.

SUNNY DAYS - And so our intrepid four alighted from the Oslo to Bergen train at Finse, on a cold but sunny afternoon.

Wasting no time, the course commenced that afternoon

with a briefing by the training staff. Our group of five including Gilbert from Lebanon, were to be fully included in all the exercises and skills training. Despite our almost singular lack of Norwegian (apart from Mark), we were fully accommodated by Endre and Mats who translated the course into English and ensured we could take a full part in the programme.


The course involved both class room and extended outdoor practical sessions both in daylight and at night, culminating in a 48 hour exercise. The ethos was that although this was aimed at incident managers, they needed a full appreciation of difficulties encountered by teams deployed in the field. This point was particularly aimed at the Police officers present.

Our bags were collected by Snow-mobile and it was notable that the light air could not even manage a flutter of the Red Cross flag. So much for the epic tales of bad weather. The accommodation – Finsehytta is located overlooking a frozen lake and with a small beer costing £10 it was apparent that this was going to be a serious affair.


benchmarking what we do with what is considered best practice in Norway

Over the next few days we undertook, a combination of table-top exercises, skills sessions and practical exercises which lasted well into the night and on a few occasions into the early hours.







involved an industrial accident with multiple casualties, triage of patients and demonstration of a temporary clearing station using an large heated inflatable tent. Other highlights included a night navigation exercise by moonlight (much against the organiser’s wishes as they were looking for nil visibility), sharing best practice (which has seen by the introduction of SARLOC across Norway) and

This latter point was brought into sharp relief when we were asked to use the MRCofS search management process for the final table-top and then brief the lead instructors on our outcomes. No pressure there then, particularly for the two of us who sit on the MRCofS working group. Thankfully we came up with the answer and received some good comments from the Norwegians on our professionalism!!. It was apparent throughout this experience that like us the Norwegians put much store on good working relations between the agencies involved, built upon mutual respect and understanding. This was particularly evident between the local lead officer for the Redcross - Arild Himle and Jens Petter the local Police Inspector and course trainer. This ethos was at the very heart of the Redcross and we had the opportunity to discuss this with the organisation’s President Sven Mollekleiv. He very much recognised the value in multiagency working and sharing ideas for a common purpose such as search and

rescue. FORCE 12 FROM FINSE - On the final day we were set the task of helping to build an avalanche scenario for the last exercise. Having been dropped off by snow-mobile, the wind picked up and by mid-day was gusting at 50 metres per second (that’s 112 mph or Hurricane force in old money). Our only recourse was to sit it out and we were

ordered to stay put until the wind abated later that day. Whilst snug in our Scottish style group shelter we were unaware of the drama that was unfolding. Two of the snowmobiles stopped working in the conditions and had to be abandoned until conditions moderated. Other groups were in less sheltered positions on the ice covered lake but dealt with the conditions as a matter of course saying much for their

experience and training. Back at base the course leadership were organising the extraction of participants whilst also dealing with an incident on the railway that may need the evacuation of all 400 train passengers. A perfect storm but one managed without further incident by the training staff who displayed their

professionalism and experience in these circumstances. It was good to see the safety measures in place including the hut staff who accounted for everyone entering the building and ensuring no-one was left on the outside. LEARNING POINTs – The course went far beyond our expectations and it was good to see how the Norwegian model has developed to address very

similar issues to our own. In particular they have developed technology to aid safety and effectiveness of searchers, particularly regarding use of GPS. Also notable was the avalanche response and incident management protocols which had some significant differences from our own. It was explained that this was evidence based and related to the maritime snow conditions which are in many ways similar to Scotland.

Lastly this was an opportunity provided by the MRCofS to look at other rescue structures, compare what we do and bring back learning points and good practice for the benefit of teams in

Additionally we were able to share ideas from here, including our own MRCofS Search Management decision making model and demonstrate the SARLOC system which through Russ Hore has now been introduced across Norway and used successfully.

Many many thanks go to our fellow participants, logistical support and the training staff for their enthusiasm, professionalism and friendship. All in all a great experience and the organisers were correct – Finse has guaranteed harsh weather.


In order to take this work forward and ensure we contribute the learning points to the MRCofS workstreams, a series of reports are being put together. In particular this will include learning points and recommendations aimed at the Search Management and Avalanche Rescue working groups.

Scotland. In this respect the four of us will be providing reports and recommendations on our experiences in the next few weeks.





Go to  for  a  list  of  the  discounts  available.   If  you’d  like  more  information  or  to  schedule  an  interview  with  a  representative  please  call  01604  647  770   or  email  Peter  Raith  


REWARDING THOSE  WHO  SAVE  LIVES   FOR  IMMEDIATE  RELEASE   Contact:  Katrina  McMahon       Telephone:01604  647770   Email:     “REWARDS  FOR  RESCUE”  CONVINCE  MAJOR  HIGH  STREET  STORES  TO  OFFER  DISCOUNTS  TO   THOSE  WHO  WORK  HARD  TO  CARE  FOR  THE  COMMUNITY     Free  website  helps  Nurses,  Fire  Fighters,  Sea  Rescue,  Mountain  Rescue  and  Ambulance  Service   to  obtain  USEFUL  discounts  in  their  local  high  street  stores.     Up  until  now  most  high  street  stores  have  offered  special  discounts  to  students,  while  discounts   for  those  who  work  in  the  public  sector  have  been  rarely  recognised.  “Rewards  for  Rescue”  have   been  campaigning  to  change  this,  in  the  belief  that  employees  who  work  hard  to  care  for  us   deserve  recognition  and  respect  from  British  Businesses  in  return  for  caring  for  and  saving  the   public  on  a  daily  basis.  Rewards  for  Rescue  have  been  contacting  hundreds  of  high  street  stores   requesting  they  show  their  support  and  give  discounts  as  they  currently  do  with  student   discounts.  An  extensive  list  of  the  discounts  available  to  the  members  of  the  Rescue  Service  can   be  found  at  Those  who  work  as  Nurses,  Fire  Fighters,  Sea  Rescue,   Mountain  Rescue  and  Paramedics  can  join  now  totally  FREE  of  charge.     How  much  can  Rescue  Staff  expect  to  save?   Every  company  listed  on  is  offering  discounts/benefits  not   available  to  the  general  public,  those  who  work  in  the  Rescue  Service  can  expect  to  save   between  £550  and  £1000  on  average  each  year.  Discounts  include:  Restaurants,  Theme  Parks   and  Attractions,  Theatre  Breaks,  Health  and  Fitness,  Sport  &  Outdoors,  Motoring  &  Car  Hire,   Holidays  and  Travel,  Short  Breaks,  Special  Occasions,  Phones  &  Computers,  Football  Clubs,  and   Insurance.     Optional  ID  card  available  for  proof  of  eligibility  for  discounts  are  offering  an  optional  solution  to  proving  eligibility  by  providing   Rescue  Service  employees  with  an  identification  card  to  prove  their  entitlement  to  discounts   within  Rewards  for  Rescue  friendly  stores.  The  cards  will  ensure  that  discounts  are  only  received   by  this  community  and  are  an  easy  way  of  staff  identifying  those  who  are  entitles  to  discounts   and  those  that  are  not.     If  you  are  part  of  the  Rescue  Community,  this  website  is  for  you!   Nurses,  Fire  Fighters,  Sea  Rescue,  Mountain  Rescue  and  Paramedics  and  those  who  have  retired   from  the  rescue  service  are  all  welcome.     Rewards  for  Rescue-­‐  Rewarding  those  who  save  lives  


Remembering Stuart


e h t b m i l c u o y r e h g i H e ” d "Th n i h e b e v a e l u more yo


There was another gathering of rescue folk at the Kings House Hotel, Glencoe on Saturday 12th October to witness the unveiling of the commemorative stone at the seating area TVMRT and SARDA built to celebrate the life of Stuart Ruffell, much loved member of both organisations. Stuart, ex-Tweed Valley Mountain Rescue Team Leader and SARDA Dog Handler, sadly passed away in November 2008. Under clear blue skies there was a healthy gaggle of friends and family .......and dogs of course, to pay their respects. Ken Waterstone led a tribute to Stuart and

presided over a couple of minutes silent reflection. Stuart’s wife Irene Ruffell expressed her thanks to all who attended and had been involved in the construction of the seating area. She reminded those gathered of the importance SARDA and Mountain Rescue had played in Stuart’s life. “The Higher you climb the more you leave behind” had been his catchphrase. (now tattood on his son Mark’s forearm!) Stuart’s beloved dog Moss died recently and his ashes will soon be scattered up the Lost Valley. Lookout for his paw prints embedded in the seating area base. As documented in the last issue the seating area was constructed over the weekend of 11/12th May by members The Search and Rescue Dog

Association Scotland (SARDA) and Tweed Valley Mountain Rescue Team. This was after a period of fundraising by both groups. The weather for the unveiling couldn’t have been different, as on this occasion there was a perfect, cloudless, sky as we gathered in the shadow of the Buachaille Etive Mòr.

Any visit to the Kings House from now on will not be complete without a wander over to this stone for a minute or two to ponder. This was a moving but joyous celebration of a man who meant so much to the rescue community in Scotland.


A perfect day to spend some time with Stuart's family and friends, sharing tales and reflecting on the ‘force of nature’ that was Stuart Ruffell.


Loch Maree. With the help of his wife, Susan, he has developed a successful photographic business (see www. which he now hopes to have more time to pursue. Eoghain would be the first to acknowledge another debt that he owes to Susan. In spite of many disturbed and anxious nights, Susan has been unstinting in her support of Eoghain’s mountain rescue work.

“Torridon Eoghain” The AGM of the Torridon and Kinlochewe MRT, in June, marked the end of an era. After 40 years of service to mountain rescue in Scotland, “Torridon Eoghain” has finally handed in his team radio. Eoghain MacLean started his mountain rescue career with the Braemar team but for nearly 30 years he has been a stalwart of the Torridon and Kinlochewe MRT. For most of that time he has been a committee member, including 2 spells as deputy leader, several years as treasurer and the final 3 years as team leader – all together, an amazing record of service. Eoghain was brought up in Kinlochewe, at the foot of Beinn Eighe, the site of Scotland’s first National Nature Reserve. For the past decade he has managed the SNH base at Anancaun, just outside Kinlochewe, with Beinn Eighe as one of his prime responsibilities. Beinn Eighe has thus played a major part in his boyhood, his working life and his mountain rescue service giving him unrivalled knowledge of this Torridon giant.


Eoghain’s work and recreation have given him unique opportunities to study and photograph the wildlife of the West Highlands, particularly around Torridon and


Although Eoghain is no longer involved in mountain rescue his legacy remains. He has passed on his love of the hills to his youngest son, Ryan, who is one of the team’s most active members, serving as a committee member and equipment officer. The members and committee of the Torridon & Kinlochewe MRT wish Eoghain all the best in his well earned retirement. Gerry McPartlin


Scotland, Sir Malcolm Ross, stated: “Following consideration of the future direction of the Priory, Chapter - the trustee board - has decided to re-align responsibilities for both staff and Chapter. In giving effect to this re-alignment, the position of Chief Executive has become redundant. Therefore, it is with sadness that we announce that Richard Waller’s employment service with the Priory has ended, with effect from 13th September.”. Sir Malcolm added that he hoped that Richard, who is an Officer in the Order of St John, would continue his valuable service as an Order member. The Priory intends to appoint a general manager for the internal aspects of the charity, and an outreach liaison officer to handle the external aspects. A former Royal Navy Commander whose naval career included submarine service, Richard joined St John Scotland in 1996 and was also the elected chairman of the international St John Executives’ Group. In a message to the mountain rescue community, Richard said -

St John Scotland - the leading charity sponsor of Scottish Mountain Rescue - is undergoing a management re-structuring and the sole full-time post, of Chief Executive Officer, has been declaredredundant. ThepostwasheldbyRichardWaller,whohas been the main point of contact between the charity and Scottish Mountain Rescue for many years. The Prior (chairman) of St John

“It has been a great pleasure and privilege to have worked with all the teams, SARDA and the MRCofS over the years to implement St John Scotland’s strategic support of Scottish Mountain Rescue, including the provision of 13 bases and 34 vehicles. I am most grateful for all your help and friendship and hugely admire the work you do. I hope to keep in touch, including through Casbag of course, and to help in any way I can, and meanwhile wish all of you the very best for the future.”.

become redundant and remain as ‘chewing gum for the mind’, picked up only occasionally to thumb through one amazing photograph after another. This account of the first Briton to climb all of the 8000m peaks however, is somewhat different as Hinkes has a real knack of relating to climbers of all levels. His honest, forthright approach will sit well with mountaineering folk.

8000 Metres Climbing The Worlds’ Highest Mountains By Alan Hinkes.

Some of these little asides are very informative and give an insight into the sort of mind-set that has kept Hinkes alive over the years. Others, reflect upon other figures that have influenced and inspired him such as Reinhold Messner and Kurt Diemberger. However, Hinkes doesn’t over-egg the pudding which gives his accounts weight and credibility.

“ "A bimble is better than a bash

when it comes to acclimitisation"”

There is always a danger that these large, coffee-table books quickly

mountaineering galactico! What I really enjoyed was the way Hinkes can combine tense moments of high altitude drama with elements all mountaineers can relate to, like a good cuppa after a hard shift, and the survival philosophy that: ‘No mountain is worth a life, coming back is a success

This is a fitting book to reflect Hinkes’ achievements. He reminds us all of the reasons we do what we do. Dave Cawthorn, Editor

CICERONE £25.00 ISBN 9781852845483


My mate, and fellow team member, Gav Kellett takes some credit for this book, claiming he encouraged Hinkes to write the book whilst on a climbing sorti with the man himself in Cairngorm. I don’t doubt this for a minute but I’m struggling to find Gav’s name on the Acknowledgements page!

To conquer all fourteen 8000 metre peaks is an incredible achievement that only fourteen others had achieved at the time Hinkes completed in 2005. He is now a member of a very elite club. However, an ‘elite’ is not something I associate with Alan Hinkes - more a man of the people rather than a

and the summit is only a bonus.’ As well as gripping accounts of the ‘big ‘uns’ in the main course there are interesting ‘side dishes’ scattered throughout the book relating to such issues as: Photography at altitude, Photographic Summit Flags, Expedition Food & Fluids (Chapatti & Chips), and a consideration of accident avoidance with ‘The Incident Pit’- an imaginary hole into which you slide with every setback until it is difficult to escape.


Ropes and Rigging in Arrochar Rigging 1 Course Arrochar July 19-21 2013

Mary Abercrombie Ochils Mountain Rescue Team With some trepidation, I arrived at Lochgoilhead on a beautiful evening for a weekend of mountain rescue rigging training. I could think that standing around a crag in Arrochar in July was not going to be the best fun I had ever had, especially when the first item on the kit list was a midge net. Safe from any midges, we began on the Friday evening with an introductory presentation on what we were letting ourselves in for. Knots , vectors, pulleys, equipment ratings, forces, safety, physics, physics, physics. Oh my goodness, the things I could have been doing this weekend! Thankfully, chat in the pub revealed that at least a few others felt a similar fear of what was to come, quickly eased by the local ale and a wonderful evening view, only marred by too many midges. Another gorgeous day dawned, and after a hearty breakfast we broke into groups for practical hands on learning, in the safety of the handrails attached to the chalets! We started with knots. Excellent, I had practiced these and was in my comfort zone. Keep the knots to a few; overhand, figure of eight, Italian hitch, clove hitch. But keep them neat for ease of identification, strength and ease of untying. We were soon covering fall arrest. All of us (including the instructors-thankfully!) had some difficulty tying the new cord 8mm prussiks. At each stage we practiced in pairs, allowing hands on experience using devices including the rescue 8 and




Will I remember what all these ropes are doing?

What amazing weather!

the IDs. I was introduced to the whistle test- “if you let go, will it fail” which we used throughout the course. Back to physics, we looked at vectors, pulling each other around at various angles to assess the forces in the comfort of a flat sun drenched playing field. Throughout we were encouraged to think of the forces involved in rescue work being larger than those of simple climbing. Think of a body, a barrow boy and a stretcher along with a safety factor of 10- 30kn all the time! Lunch was followed by a trip to the crags. In our 2 teams we put the theories into practice. Setting up safe and effective belays with stakes in various ways and attaching the appropriate rigging systems for a safe lower and raise. As I was lowered off the edge with the stretcher, I just hoped that the lovely guys I’d watch drink one too many pints who were now setting up the system, had really been listening. But of course all was checked by each other and the ever helpful trainer. Too soon it was time to pack up and head for Lochgoilhead for a bit more theory, a substantial dinner and a further sampling of the local ales. Sunday was all set on the crag, pulling all our new and revised knowledge together, for safe practice. Working with members of other teams allowed for excellent opportunity to discuss the many ways of working the systems that are used and those that maybe should be reviewed. We all got a chance to be involved in each element of the system, ensuring that we were competent. Again we had a beautiful midge free day, and happily for some, a little cooler. We left in the bright Sunday sunshine, having had an excellent course with clear, evidence based practical instruction delivered in a very user friendly manner. It also offers an excellent opportunity to meet members of other teams. How surprised I was to feel that I had had a thoroughly enjoyable, worthwhile weekend. Thanks to all the training team.

All very colourful.

Deep in concentration







A tribute by Jon Hart Chair - Scottish Mountain Rescue


'I first met Richard Waller at a Shell seminar at Glenmore Lodge in the early to mid 90's. I was a fresh faced LMRT team member, keen eager, enthusiastic and going through that (on reflection) annoying phase of wanting to get involved with everything vaguely MR related. At that time the Order of St John were a distant organisation to me, as my focus was on my own enjoyment of being out with the team and on the job!. I knew they (OSJ) provided some sort of support but wasn't really sure of the bigger picture and why would I be, as I had a more pressing issue at the Shell seminar and that was Mick Tighe lowering me down some treacherous , loose chossy gully, shouting at me that my role was to keep an eye on the folks , particularly those from the teams that had not received the Tighe hair dryer experience!! Richard , I remember, would always be around at these events and then always be thanked at the end of the Shell seminar for the support that the OSJ provided, and pretty much that was as far as my OSJ knowledge went.

Oh how times have changed.... Now in my role as Chair of the MRCofS I can truly say (and evidence) that the Order of St John have been the bedrock upon which we have all collectively developed and delivered a truly world class Scottish Mountain Rescue Service, particularly over the last sixteen years. Their support since 1998 has meant that teams have had vehicles delivered to them , many have had bases built, team members from across Scotland have had opportunities to attend training courses, SARDA , the teams and the MRCofS have had access to specialised kit and we have managed to move our National organisation to creating the role of the Scottish Mountain Project officer and have developed our capacity to work more consistently with our National stakeholders to ensure our long term future is secure. In terms of pure financial support the OSJ have contributed in the range of ÂŁ2.5-3 Million to Scottish Mountain Rescue over this period. This is quite an outstanding and amazing figure. In that same time line, Scotttish Mountain Rescue has gone from responding to approximately 350 incidents a year to the now quite staggering 700+ incidents a year. We now recover and return to their families approximately 50 fatalities a year and have an outstanding capability across high mountain , lowland and urban SAR/civil contingency related activity. Much of this capability was evident in last winters busy season and the magnificent response from teams across the whole country to the consequences of severe winter weather.

Whilst securing financial support is key , the additional key roles that Richard has provided , have been linking and facilitating OSJ funding support to the deliverable outcomes of improved welfare for team members and helping us to improve our capability across all of Scottish Mountain Rescue, is simply astonishing. His behind the scenes support to Alfie Ingram and previous MRCofS colleagues was a critical success factor in the process for Scottish Mountain Rescue securing Scottish Government funding in 2004. In addition his deep understanding of our team culture and his detailed knowledge of the teams keenness for independence has also meant that he has steered the use of OSJ funds direct to the activities were they are required, and he has moved effortlessly between team and MRCofS relationships maintaining a great deal of respect and integrity during all his engagements with our wider SMR community. Of course he has always had Gilly at his side and any mention of Richards contribution to the development of Scottish MR also has to recognise Gilly's unfailing support as well. In addition the supporting work at the OSJ offices in Edinburgh , provided by Janet and Audrey, have also made a huge contribution to the success of Scottish Mountain Rescue, by supporting Richard and his engagement with the teams.

At the UK and Ireland MR conference at Aviemore in 2014, I expect there will new fresh faced, young and mad keen Scottish MR folk attending (just as I did back in the day!) and wondering who those folks from the OSJ are, chatting away at the front of the room with the old guard? I sincerely hope that when those keen beans get to take on future roles at a National level that they too can be fortunate enough to have the chance to work with someone from the OSJ whom is so dedicated and understanding of their cause, that it makes volunteering an ever greater privilege and enjoyable experience. Richard , many thanks for all your support that you have provided to Scottish Mountain Rescue and for helping us to improve the service to the casualties and families of the deceased, for whom we are here to serve, working in collaboration with the Order of St John.


Finally however, I would like to thank Richard personally and very publicly for all the support that he has provided to me in my role as both vice chair and then subsequently Chair of the MRCofS. He has a lovely sense of humour, understands the mentality of the Scottish mountain rescuer and has always been immensely supportive

of our long term development. He has always been prepared to gently but effectively influence our decision making and our thinking regard future strategy whilst maintaining clarity of purpose and always looking to ultimately ensure that the support provided by the OSJ ends up delivering outcomes directly for the voluntary team member and ensuring that our voluntary status remains at the very heart of our purpose. I very much look forward to Richard continuing to work with the wider Scottish Mountain Rescue community and that we still have an opportunity to meet with him and Gilly and enjoy their company at future events.



Bring light to dark times.


ULTRA VARIO ® Ultra-powerful multi-beam headlamp with rechargeable battery The ULTRA VARIO’s very powerful lighting makes it perfect for demanding, long-duration work. It has four constant lighting modes in order to adapt the beam to any situation: low intensity, close-range work, moving around, distance vision. Its great durability guarantees field reliability.

Issue 32 final