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Aberdeen Mountain Rescue Team

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Aberdeen Mountain Rescue Team

Mario Di Maio writes:

Many people are surprised to discover that there is a Mountain Rescue Team based in Aberdeen. Where are the mountains they often ask! Well not too far from the city we have quite a few hills including Bennachie, and these hills are very popular with walkers. We are also very close to the Cairngorms where you will find the second highest mountain – Ben Macdui – in the United Kingdom. The Cairngorms are also the snowiest and windiest part of Britain and as well as attracting walkers they are also popular with climbers and skiers.

In an average year the Aberdeen Mountain Rescue Team will be called out between fifteen and twenty times. Most of the callouts are for people who are missing in the hills or who have suffered an injury or illness which requires them to be rescued. Rescues often take place at night and regularly in bad weather and this can make it very difficult and challenging for Team members. All the members of the Team are volunteers and have normal jobs – we have Teachers, Engineers, Joiners and many other occupations in the Team and despite having jobs they are prepared to go out, often in really bad weather conditions in the middle of the night, to rescue injured and lost people in the hills and mountains. Before becoming a member of the Rescue Team you must be a skilled mountaineer able to cope with the difficult conditions that the Team often has to work in. People have different reasons for joining the Rescue Team but they all share a love of the hills and mountains and are keen to help people who get into difficulties in the hills. Accidents in the hills and mountains can happen at any time and the Team has actually been called out on Christmas Day and New Year’s Day – which as you can imagine can be very disruptive to normal family life.

The Team trains every Thursday night, usually at our base in Westhill, and every third weekend we head out to the Cairngorms where we spend time working on the technical skills involved in rescues. All Team members are trained to a high level in First Aid and because callouts can last for many hours before we are able to get a casualty to hospital we have to be able to look after and treat all sort of injuries.

Being a member of a Mountain Rescue Team requires a great deal of personal commitment because of all the training that Team members are required to do and also the fact that you are likely to be called out at any time day or night. It also requires a lot of understanding and support from family members because callouts can happen at any time and that can have a big impact on normal family life.

Because Mountain Rescue Team members are keen mountaineers and we understand that anyone can have an accident we never criticise or comment on callouts we attend. We do hope however that people who are going to the hills and mountains make sure that they are properly equipped and prepared with the skills and knowledge to have a safe and enjoyable adventure.

Learn more at www.amrt.org.uk

A Day In The Life Of A Mountain Rescuer

Watch the BBC Newsround video to learn more about Naomi and the details of her life in the mountains.

This video is also contains some top tips on how to stay safe when you are taking a trips to the hills or mountains.

Watch Video

A Day In The Life Of A Mountain Rescuer (BBC Newsround)

Staying Safe on Bennachie

So you are thinking about climbing Bennachie. Although maybe not the highest of hills its distinctive shape and the fact that it can be seen from almost everywhere in Aberdeenshire makes it a popular day out for walkers.

Okay so what do you need to think about before setting off on your Bennachie adventure?

First of all you need to have a plan. Where are you going to start from and exactly where on the hill are you heading for. Bennachie has quite a few tops and before leaving the car park you need to know exactly how you are going to get to your chosen top or tops and importantly how you are going to get back down again. Although most of the tracks are signposted it is a good idea to have a map. This may seem obvious but if this is your first time on Bennachie it can get a bit confusing. From the carpark to the what is probably the most popular top – Mither Tap - involves a climb of almost 340 metres and can be quite an effort if you are not used to it. There is an excellent track leading from the carpark up out of the forest to the top, but it is steep and if there is snow or ice on the track it can be very challenging, especially when descending.

So have a plan, know where you are going and make sure that you have given yourself enough time to get to the top and back in daylight. This is more important during the winter months when the days are short and the weather might add some difficulties. The weather in the carpark will almost certainly be different from what you will experience once you get up the track and out from the shelter of the trees. Checking the weather forecast before you head off is always a good idea.

Although Bennachie is not really a big mountain it does need to be treated with respect, and so in addition to having thought about your route and considered the weather and if you have given yourself enough time to get to the top and back you need to think about what you are wearing and what you are going to carry with you. Ideally you would have strong walking shoes or boots with good soles which will give you plenty of ankle support – really important when coming back down. Even on the warmest of days the weather on top of Bennachie can be cold and windy. There is not a great deal of shelter on any of the Bennachie tops and getting out of the wind can be difficult so you should have extra clothes with you and certainly a jacket to keep the wind out. During the winter months it important to have a hat and gloves and it is always worth carrying an extra layer to pop on when you get to the top.

You might be interested to know that Bennachie is frequently the scene of accidents which end up involving the local Mountain Rescue Team. In fact, Bennachie has almost as many callouts for Mountain Rescue Teams as the much bigger mountains of the Cairngorms. So small it might be in comparison to the bigger hills and mountains to the west but it can be just as challenging. Many of the incidents which end up with people having to be rescued are a result of them not wearing the correct footwear. The last thing that you want is to twist your ankle or knee which may result in you having to be rescued!

So what are the really important things you need to think about when visiting Bennachie in order to stay safe and have an enjoyable day out?

  • Plan your trip, make sure that what you are going to attempt is something that you and others you are with are going to be able to do safely and that you have given yourself enough time. Remember Bennachie will still be there next week so don’t be scared to change you plans and do something less challenging if the weather changes or if you are finding the going too tough.
  • Before heading out think about the weather, check the forecast and use that information to plan your route. This is especially important in winter when you will almost certainly find the weather more challenging as you get higher up the hill.
  • Make sure that what you have on your feet is up to the job. This is really important not just during the winter months and might just make the difference between a good day out and one where you have to be rescued!
  • Remember the weather can change and it has been known to rain and snow in Scotland so carrying a waterproof and windproof jacket along with some extra clothing is a good idea – even in summer.
  • It is also worth remembering that having something to eat and drink during your trip up Bennachie might be a good idea. You will be using up quite a lot of energy during your ascent of Bennachie so having a snack with you will help to keep you going.

Walking Safely in Winter

Aberdeen Mountain Rescue Team have given brilliant advice about how to stay safe when going out on Bennachie in winter. We know lots of you reading this come from all across the country and particularly at this time of year you do need to prepare when having an outdoors expedition elsewhere.

For those who don't have much experience here’s what you might pack in your rucksack:

Things you should pack in your rucksack for an outdoors expedition:

  • Water
  • Flask with a hot drink
  • Food (dried fruit, nuts or sweeties will be more sustaining than a cucumber stick!)
  • A spare layer (like an extra fleece)
  • Hat, gloves and scarf
  • Waterproof jacket with hood
  • Waterproof trousers, if you’ve got them – if not, steer clear of jeans, because once they’re wet, they’ll be staying wet till you’re back home and they’re draped over a radiator!
  • First aid kit (know what’s in it and how to use it)
  • Torch (plus spare batteries) – it gets dark very quickly and very early at this time of year, especially amongst trees. Headtorches are great because they leave your hands free!
  • Depending on how far afield you’re roaming, a map and a compass are essential – but they’re only useful if you know how to use them!
  • Mobile phone and a written-down note of important numbers
  • Some money, a face mask and hand sanitiser are all worth having about your person too!

And make sure you’ve got good walking shoes on, suitable for the conditions.

As ever on an expedition, make sure somebody knows where you’re going, and what time to expect you back.

Be prepared, and have a great time!


Also see our Spring Programme 2021, Winter Programme 2020, Autumn Programme 2020 and Summer Programme 2020 information, and don't forget to enter our Competition.

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