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The End of the Year

What a busy end of the year it has been, so much to do, so little time. I left you last time, a month ago – sorry, with my car poorly. Well it was fixed! It was just a clip that held a pipe on had become rotten and fallen off. Replace the clip and a new lease of life! I left my car at the garage whilst I went away to Nethybridge for the annual team conference.

The adventures started with a mountain rescue training exercise involving three teams: Killin, Lomond and Ochils. We were to be based out of Crianlarich village hall and split up into different groups to search an area on Ben More for some people.

Saturday evening. I had borrowed an avalanche transceiver, probe and a snow shovel from the stores, had packed my bag and was in the process of waxing my boots when I get a call-out text message. “Group on Ben More lost”.

I called Phil to check if he also got the message, to which he replied yes, and he would pick me up shortly.

I quickly gathered my stuff and jumped in the truck with Phil and proceeded to re-lace my boot. It turns out something as simple as re-lacing a boot becomes quite difficult when it is dark and you’re in a fast moving vehicle on your way to a callout! On our journey to Ben More farm we commented on the similarities between this callout and our intended training the next day.

At the farm, we were briefed, loaded into the Land Rovers and set off up the track. I was given the casualty bag, an extra backpack of about 40L with a huge sleeping bag in to wrap the casualty in, should we need to stretcher them off.

I was paired up with Len, as it was my first full-blown call-out, and set off upwards. We were out for four hours in total. The helicopter was flying around, but it was too cloudy for it to be much use.

We found the chaps and after warming and feeding them, walked them successfully off of the hill. A rewarding and happy end. It had been wet underfoot and in the air at times too, so when I returned home, I lit the fire and hung some stuff up to dry for the next day. I fell into bed at around 1am.

The next morning, I repacked my now dry kit and made my way to the stores ready for the day ahead. From here I hitched a ride in the team’s Landy to Crianlarich.

After our briefing we were split into three task forces made up from a mixture of the three MR teams. Our team was the last to deploy to the hillside but thankfully we also had the nearest casualties. I was on stretcher carrying duties.

After a short line search we located the casualties, someone attended to first aid, others built an anchor, I helped assemble the stretcher. By this time the press photographer had shown up and was snapping away, and we also joined by some more senior members of the police force.

Together we loaded the casualty onto the stretcher and extracted him down the hillside. We had some steep rocky ground to start with that soon opened up into more gentle (but still rocky) hillside.

With the casualty safely retrieved, we nipped back down to the village hall for debriefing and some hot food.

Just as things were starting to wrap up our team received a real call-out!

We piled into vehicles and disappeared down the road. A quick 15 minute blast up the hill and we find the lady with an injured ankle struggling down the hill with her two friends.

She was happy to have help, but was surprised that there were so many of us (around 20 people). We told her there were another 40 or so down the road we could go and get if she wanted them!

We walked down the remaining hillside with her before driving back to the hall to gather our bits and pieces to go home. The caterers were still there so we scrounged some tea and left over wedges.

Then… Mark walked in and told us to get ready for another call-out! Fortunately after a five-minute wait we are stood down and are no longer needed.

What a weekend! I slept well that night, and looked forward to the week ahead to our team conference. It was good to have a few days with the full team, meet new people and hang out with good friends too. Having three and a half days together meant for a lot of activities. We had an instructional department workshop, several meetings with worship and a guest speaker, some free time where I went climbing, swimming and popped into Aviemore, carol singing and a walk out in the forest.

Pete had asked Sam and myself to help out with some training with the Trainee Instructors at Ardgour. Great! On Monday we planned and journeyed across, and the rest of the week we delivered.

Day nav, night nav, campcraft and climbing, twice for two groups of six. We had some great views and some horrendous weather, but also some nice snow conditions too. I was feeling sorry for myself most of the week with being under the weather, but also frustrated that there was some quality snow about and I was unable to explore.

On the Friday afternoon we zoomed back to Ardeonaig before I carried on to Glen Clova to meet Derek and the gang for a winter hill walking weekend. It was a marvelous weekend, with great company, great views and great adventure to boot.

On the Monday was the Ardeonaig Christmas meal, which was delightful. The Tuesday was a couple of hours to tidy up and shutdown the centre before mince pies, carols and goodbyes.

For Christmas this year I, once again, joined family Musson. It was splendid. I feel well relaxed after a couple of weeks of rest, eating and drinking!

The new work year starts tomorrow and I’m very much looking forward to it, seeing all my colleagues and getting stuck into a project. Happy New Year to you all and may 2018 bring you many adventures!

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