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Chris (Dave) Whyte’s Rescue Story

Chris (Dave) Whyte’s Rescue Story

12th November, 2021

My rescue story dates back to April 11th 2013 on Ben More (Crianlarich) and was a big learning experience!

In 2012  aged around 22 I had signed up for a trip to Everest Base Camp in September/October of that year and spent a couple of weekends in the summer training for the trip. I had climbed up Ben Nevis via the tourist path a couple times believing that because it was the highest in the UK it would be the most challenging and prepare me well. The conditions were never bad and I did pack enough food, water and clothes even for a summer because I knew the top could be a lot colder.  But I was still not properly prepared and missing several items I would now class as essential. 

After a successful trip to Everest Base Camp and Kala Patthar I returned to Scotland with new confidence in my hill walking experience. If I could get to 5600m in the Himalayas then the small mountains in Scotland couldn’t be any more challenging or extreme or so my thinking at the time lead me to believe. 

In the winter of 2012/2013 I climbed , Beinn Dorain , Beinn an Dothaidh and Ben Vorlich (Loch Earn). Only Ben Vorlich had snow on it and posed no real problems. Taking an ice axe or crampons was not even a consideration then. But I was at least well equipped in terms of warm clothing.  

So after climbing these three hills and with an increasing sense of confidence in my experience on April 11th 2013 I chose to climb up Ben More in Crianlarich with a friend. I had chosen this hill as it was one of the highest that was within easy travel distance. Parking at Ben More farm we could see there was snow on top. I falsely believed at the time that I could see the summit and that the snow patch would not be too bad, basing my experience on the soft unconsolidated snow  I had experienced earlier on Ben Vorlich.  

 I thought I was layered well, I had trekking trousers and waterproofs , windbreaker long johns and top on and a fleece and gore-tex jacket with a pair of gloves and a hat along with a pair of leather walking boots, good socks and trekking poles. My friend was less equipped and it would transpire later that he did not have gloves. The weather at the bottom was favourable and caused no real concern. 

After a while we soon hit the snow line. As Ben More got steeper and steeper and the snow more firm I knew to kick steps in to make it easier. I lead and my friend followed. He did raise concerns about how we would get down, but I shrugged off the valid concerns and said we would be fine. My friends hands were getting cold without gloves and due to having broken one of his fingers earlier in the year I gave him mine as I figured he would need them more and that I could survive with having my hands in a pocket. 

After reaching a couple false summits and continuing because we thought it couldn’t be much further we ended up at a point (probably around 900m/1000m) where I knew the gradient was to steep to go up and also now to steep to go back down. The ground was also by this point solid ice. A fall would have meant and uncontrolled slide off the mountain. By this point the weather had changed and we were in a whiteout with only a couple metres visibility. 

We decided to sit and eat and think of what to do. We found the slightest bit of shelter beside a rock and sat down. Every so often the blizzard would clear and we could see three people in the distance making their way up the mountain. By this point I was freezing and was shivering quite badly.  This probably set in after 15-20 minutes. We thought the people coming up the mountain may be able to help us, but decided that we could not risk waiting in case they decided to turn around due to the conditions. 

 We then made the decision that we needed to phone Mountain Rescue. Whilst on the phone when I was prompted to give my car registration. It took me a lot longer than normal to remember. This was the first time for me that fear had really set in. I had stated on the phone that we were reasonably well dressed. We got confirmation that a team was coming out to assist us. 

I’m not sure how long we waited sitting beside the rock, but I remember I was not long away from asking my friend to spoon for body heat. I was too embarrassed that it had came to that, to ask. Eventually the three people we had glimpsed coming up the mountain reached us. The three were an experienced couple and a younger family member who were all very well equipped. When they asked how we were doing we told them of the trouble we found ourselves in. 

The guy noticed that I had stopped shivering which he recognised as a really bad sign. He said I think its best we get you off the hill. The group had spare mitts and warm drinks which helped warm us enough to get us moving. They decided to give us their ice axes whilst they carefully stepped down. At one point on the descent, I had slip and was picking up speed. By good fortune I had watched a video on youtube the night before and luckily, I was able to self-arrest. The gentleman even said at the time it was perfectly carried out. 

Nearing the bottom of the hill we were met by two team members from Killin Mountain Rescue. They checked we were ok and then gave us a well-deserved lecture on our way back to the car. One of the rescuers was self-employed and had to leave his work to come and help two ill prepared walkers off the hill.

The older couple had climbed Ben More before but their younger family member had not. We also felt really bad that it had ruined her plans for the day due to our inexperience and poor decision making. We did take them out for lunch to say sorry and thank you. We were very grateful that they along with MRT had came to our assistance despite it all being completely our fault. 

 The family told us that we would learn from the experience and I can honestly say I have. If anything I am maybe overly cautious now especially if I am out on my own, and I always carry plenty of spare equipment, just in the event that I need to help someone unprepared someday.  

My rescue story is from quite some time ago now, but I wanted to share it so that others can learn from my story. I feel as though many people are not fully aware of what can happen and how quickly the situation and conditions can change and how cold you can get from just a brief period of not moving.



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