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Many people in the area have a fascination with the hills, spending much
of their spare time climbing and walking around the dramatic heights
which surround us, writes Iain Ferguson.
None more so than George Bruce from Corpach who recorded his memories of trips and adventures as he made them, resulting in a large number of scrapbooks full of pictures, stories and his thoughts of the time.
Two years ago George was going through them when his wife, Brenda, suggested he should turn them into a book.
He set himself a target of having it ready and published before his 80th birthday and now, aged 79, he has achieved just that.
Aptly titled ‘My Love Affair with the Hills and 37 Years in Mountain Rescue’, it is
now available to amaze readers with tales of climbing, not only in Lochaber, but across the world. Many of his local companions on these adventures are still around and are highly regarded in the climbing community.
Modest as ever about his achievements and exploits, George reels off amazing tales as though the were everyday events, setting off with friends to spend weekends climbing in the Alps, safely shepherding charity events in all parts of the world and his time with
Lochaber Mountain Rescue, with both tragic and happy outcomes.
He recalls with sadness his first callout as a member of the team to recover the body of a 14-year-old boy from the ‘waterslide’ in Glen Nevis.
There were to be many more of these less than perfect outcomes in his ‘rescue’ years, but most had happier conclusions, where without the unfailing response of the team lives would have been lost.
One event, documented in newspapers of the time, was ‘The Ice Maidens’, two girls who were discovered cold but well in a snow hole after a two-day search. Those members of the team who found them – George was one – were dubbed ‘The most handsome rescuers ever’.
Underlining the dedication of mountain rescue volunteers, George and a colleague were competing in a half Ben race when they were told two women were stuck in a gully. They immediately abandoned the race and went to their aid, discovering one of them was pregnant. Thanks to this quick action, they were safely taken off the hill.
Through his own notes and press articles, the book is an entertaining but captivating read of real life – and death – stories set in the hills in all weathers. The fact it is presented in such a matter-of-fact manner belies the sheer courage, determination and dangers faced by Lochaber Mountain Rescue Team, potentially on every call-out.
It is also a gripping catalogue of climbing achievements undertaken for sheer pleasure which will appeal to his fellow climbers of all ages and experience.
Due to current lockdown restrictions, the book is not yet available locally but it can be bought from Amazon in hard copy at £8.95.
Veteran climber and Lochaber Mountain Rescue Team member George Bruce with his newly-published book documenting his life and times in the hills over many decades. Photograph: Iain Ferguson, The Write Image.
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