With many years of experience of hillwalking and mountaineering, I decided some years ago that I would like to use my experience and skills within Mountain Rescue. Moving to Easter Ross in the north of Scotland in 1996, I saw the perfect opportunity and applied to join Dundonnell Mountain Rescue Team (DMRT), the local team in my area. My application was approved on the basis of my experience and my knowledge, and so I became a new recruit to the team. Some 20 years later I’m still an active member of DMRT and membership of the team is still a core part of my life in the outdoors.
Dundonnell Mountain Rescue Team
Dundonnell Mountain Rescue Team (or sgioba teasairginn bheann an Loch Bhig in gaelic) is one of the largest teams in Scotland. The team of around 35 volunteers is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year to help anyone in difficulty on the hills, mountains or crags. Covering an area of 2600 square miles in Easter Ross, Wester Ross and Sutherland, the team boundary runs from east to west coast, taking in some of the most rugged, remote, beautiful and iconic areas in the Highlands of Scotland.
With 39 Munros (mountains over 3000ft or 914m in height) within the patch and huge distances to cover, we can be busy! We have around 30 callouts a year to a wide range of incidents in both summer and winter; daytime and night time. The mountains are spectacular but some of the terrain is hazardous; with steep and remote mountain ridges, one of our biggest challenges is the time required and the distance to cover to reach casualties during callouts.
Team members are all volunteers and we live in a number of locations across the team area; being geographically spread out allows us to respond as quickly as we can to incidents.
There are many aspects to Mountain Rescue. It’s not just about the technical abilities or being confident to navigate in all conditions, day or night. It’s about teamwork and constantly learning, becoming part of a team that in many ways becomes a second family. We train every month and we train in a wide variety of settings; in first aid, technical aspects of rescues, stretcher work and casualty care, search techniques and we train jointly with other, neighbouring teams. The use and deployment of the HM Coastguard helicopters are huge assets to us when conducting big searches or needing to evacuate casualties swiftly. We train with helicopter crews and we are also trained in safe working practices with helicopters.
Dundonnell Mountain Rescue Team is a charity and we rely almost exclusively on donations as part of our funding. We also offer safety cover to a small number of mountain and wilderness events within our area – this not only provides valuable safety cover for the organisers of events but also allows us to train in real situations in some of our most remote areas, sometimes over several days.
So why did I join a mountain rescue team? I love the outdoors and with an extensive background in the Scottish mountains, this was an opportunity to give something back to the mountaineering community and to offer my experience and knowledge within a close knit team of like-minded volunteers. Having been up many hills several times, I have also almost completed all 282 of the Scottish Munros and hope to complete my round of these great hills soon.
One of my other passions is photography and I have many years of experience of mountain photography. Summer, winter, sunrise and sunset all provide great opportunities within stunning scenery and dramatic locations, many of them right on my doorstep! Atmospheric locations and panoramic vistas provide limitless photographic opportunities to explore new perspectives and compositions, whilst the ever changing light adds to the creative potential. I have had a number of photographic commissions for mountain photography as well as sales to newspapers and publications, all stemming from an enjoyment (safely!) in the mountains.
Why not join one of my High Mountain Workshops or Phototours which will take you on a journey in some of the most scenic mountain areas in the Highlands. Capture spectacular mountain views and perspectives utilising the constantly changing natural light and shadow of the mountain environment. Explore creative photography in the high summits and ridges. I am currently offering four locations for my mountain photography days. The Cairngorm mountains offer some of the highest plateaus and summits in the UK, with long distance views, great perspectives and vast expanses of sky and summits. In contrast, the hills of Assyst in the north west of Scotland offer amazing west coast light, coastal views from the summits and the sculpted architecture of the mountains, cast from some of the most ancient geology in the world. Meanwhile the Fannich mountains in Easter Ross and the majestic hills of Kintail provide magnificent ridge walks and panoramic views to the surrounding mountain ranges.
As a qualified Mountain Leader I can both plan and guide your photographic experience in the mountains according to the weather, the terrain and your aspirations.
Discover the secrets of landscape photography – understanding and using light, composition and location to create great results. Tuition in panoramic photography of scenic vistas, the use of filters to provide more balanced colour saturation and the application of High Dynamic Range techniques are just some of the topics we can cover. If you would like to learn more about landscape photography techniques and to understand how to take panoramas of scenic vistas, this is the course for you!
For more information about Dundonnell Mountain Rescue Team, please see the team website. Explore….