Team Leader's Report 2016

‘River Deep Mountain High’

It’s been just over 12 months since the Team assisted during the flood response action in Ballater and although it seems on the surface that life has returned to normal in the village; the impact of the flood is still being felt by many of those who live there.  The Team members who attended certainly embarked on a steep learning curve and thankfully so far, we have not had a similar callout. Hopefully the disruption to the residents of Ballater, many of whom are our friends will soon be resolved.

The first half of 2016 saw quite a busy period for the Team.  We attended 3 separate incidents on Bennachie requiring injured persons to be either carried off the hill or lifted out by Rescue 951. A considerable amount of man-hours was spent on the extended search for Jim Robertson. Our thoughts are still with his family who displayed the highest level of courage throughout.  Jim’s Family has gone on to raise fantastic amounts for ourselves and Braemar MRT and also took part in our annual sponsored walk. It’s a shame that it took a tragic event to meet such lovely people.

Other incidents throughout the year included separate searches in the areas of Glen Feshie, Bennachie, Glen Dye and Dallas.

‘Right Here Right Now’

Team members continue to balance MRT commitment alongside “normal-life”. Admittedly what is “normal” for a Team member can be very different within the Team, let alone to anyone else. But regardless, we all have jobs and other commitments to take care of. So a big thank you to the significant others and family members who continue to support their own Mountain Rescuer. That support comes in many shapes and forms and can range from making sandwiches, filling a flask in the wee hours, hanging up wet kit, looking after the wee one(s) to just being there. As ever a big “Thank-You” goes out to the following groups: our support members, who help with the running of the Team, fundraising and at public events; St John Scotland, who continue to support Aberdeen MRT and teams across the country; our walkers old and new, who make the annual sponsored walk quite an event and eat record amounts of Haribo throughout the day; and anyone else who supports the Team in whatever way they can.

The Team became a SCIO in the New Year and this was marked by our first AGM as the new organisation. We elected a new Management Team and for most of us, it’s business as usual. In fact, we returned to a management structure that most of the Team was familiar with; a Team Leader and Deputies who are now supported by the addition of a Team Secretary and Team Treasurer, these two new positions formerly being Association Chair and Honorary Treasurer.

Well done to Stef and Nat for attempting to make honest men out of Derek and Chris. Congratulations to Pamela and Warry for the safe arrival of baby James.

To signify successfully completing their probationary period Naomi Dodds & Andy Harrison were awarded their Scottish Mountain Rescue Merit badges; and Stuart Doig was voted as the 2016 recipient of the Spirit of Nick Jack award.

We said sad farewells to Mark Davidson and Mat Kervyn who left Team life and we welcomed Martin “Tank” Smith, Billy Burnside and John Rathbone to the ranks. With a somewhat Lazarus style return, we saw Dave Lawrence re-join the Team.

A big part of what makes us a Team is the additional training and events that Team members take part in. 2016 saw us enter teams or individuals in the Strathpuffer, Highland Cross, Etape Royale, Xreid Senja the Illuminator and the Corrieayairack Challenge.  We opted not to send a team back to the Dolomite Rescue race due to a clash of training dates, but we do have unfinished business there.

‘It Came out of the Sky’

As I draw this year’s report to an end, we had been experiencing a relatively mild winter with some unusual conditions on the hill. However, during the week of finishing this report it all changed. The hills are now in full “winter mode” and we saw multiple callouts across the country with two separate avalanche incidents occurring on the same day.

It is a timely reminder that the routes you choose and the kit you carry should be appropriate to the time of year and forecast. Knowing how to use a map and compass will stand you in good stead all year round, as Gerry of Skye MRT said it, “Maps not Apps”. Technology is a great back up when it comes to navigation but it should never be your primary means of traveling round the mountains.

Knowing when to “call it a day” is not the easiest of decisions to make; but remember that hill isn’t going anywhere. If you have bitten off more than you can chew or one of your party is struggling a wee bit, adapt your plan and act accordingly.

Bear these factors (and others) in mind and you should have a great time on the hills.  So go on, what are you waiting for?

Scott Stevens - Team Leader