Martin in Gatineau Park - 2018

Martin in Gatineau Park - 2018

Monday, 24 February 2014

An XXL Club weekend in Newtonmore


I had debated whether to join friends at the XXL Hillwalking Club’s weekend at Newtonmore, but the weather forecast didn’t warrant the trip.

I’m pleased with the decision, as one of the members who is renowned for going off on his own on tough days in his bid to climb all the Munro (3000 feet) summits during the winter months, came to grief.

Here’s the relevant entry on Lochaber Mountain Rescue Team’s Facebook page:

We had a 10 hour epic day yesterday with a shout for a climber who had fallen through a cornice on Beinn Eibhinn to the north of Corrour. Our guys fell through cornices at least 4 times themselves and were avalanched while trying to locate the climber. Conditions were atrocious with total white out conditions and very high winds and heavy snow. The guys were having to navigate around the edge of cliffs and gullies in visibility that was not even the length of your arm. Although we say it ourselves, "The Team" did an absolutely fantastic job putting both life and limb on the line to get to the guy who was recovered safe and well.
We would like to thank Philip and his staff at Corrour Estate for providing ATV's to transport guys and equipment part of the way up the mountain and for allowing use of the of the community centre and providing refreshments for the guys when they finally got off the mountain. As usual much appreciated as the helicopter had to be grounded due to a mechanical issue.
The conditions in the mountains this year are some of the most extreme we have ever experienced. Virtually every rescue has had a very high element of risk involved and this is not just in Lochaber but for all teams operating in the Highlands. We are quieter than normal with only 11 call outs so far this year but the conditions have been putting considerable demands on us and other teams across Scotland.
If you are heading to the mountains enjoy but stay safe. If you use the outdoors support mountain rescue in what ever way you can.

I don’t think anyone else on the weekend got up anything very much, and their Saturday evening may well have been spoilt as they waited for news of David, who ended up spending the night at the mountain rescue base.

I’ve always been impressed with the emphasis on safety shown by most members of this club, as you would expect from people who in the main earn their living from the North Sea oil industry. This event must come as quite a shock… but if it was going to happen to anyone… At least he was equipped to cope with around six hours of waiting high on a mountain in dire weather before he was reached by the Mountain Rescue Team.

‘A thought for all of us’ comments Chairman Bill.

As the header picture, featuring a wiser David who now winters in the sunshine, shows – winter walks in Scotland can be wonderful. For those who don’t recognise it, this is the iconic view from Sgurr Mhor on Beinn Alligin, taken on 19 March 2009.

I’m told that the snow that blankets the Highlands of Scotland is currently melting fast, with rivers in spate. I’m not minded to visit them for a week or two. Or more.

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