Meet the Cairngorm Mountain Rescue Team
When you’re 1,300 metres from safety and facing the brutal conditions of the Cairngorm mountains it doesn’t matter whether you’re trying to survive or are a part of the rescue team, you need the highest quality clothing to get you through.
The Cairngorm mountain range has twice recorded the lowest temperature in the United Kingdom, first in 1895 and more recently in 1982, when it fell to -27.2°C and has also produced the highest recorded wind speeds in the United Kingdom when it reached 170mph in 1986. These stats prove just how volatile and extreme the Cairngorm weather conditions can be and only magnify the importance of the need to wear the best clothing when tackling the notorious mountain range.
These stats are also testament to the kind of bravery shown by the Cairngorm Mountain Rescue Team, a group of around 45 volunteers who are on call 365 days a year. Gifted with top of the range Odlo gear, which is welcomed and praised by all, the team take part in monthly training sessions both inside and atop the treacherous mountains.
Based at the St Columbus Rescue Base in Inverdruie, Aviemore, the squad are on call ready to respond to any emergencies requesting help on the mountains. It is from here that all members are contacted to see who can make their way to the base, with about half of the team usually able to attend the SOS call, some travelling from over half an hour away to help. The majority of emergencies come from those who have become lost in the mountain ranges, a common occurrence due to the rapidly changing weather, whilst more severe cases have caused fatalities year-in year-out.
The importance of starting at the bottom rings true when it comes to survival clothing. The key to staying warm begins with the baselayer and the higher the quality of the baselayer the more heat you are going to retain when taking on mountain ranges that can reach astonishingly low temperatures and incredible wind chills.
Despite the extreme conditions, it is important to manage moisture and in turn remain as comfortable as possible. The Odlo Evolution range ensures ultimate comfort and guarantees optimum temperature management, as well as rapid drying, all of which is vitally important when you are trekking through the snow in layers upon layers of warm clothing.
It is also vitally important that your baselayers aren’t noticeable against the skin, and the X-Light range is the lightest, seamless baselayer on the market. Designed to feel ‘invisible’, X-Light products allow for optimum performance whatever the conditions.
We visited them in March to gain a unique inside view into their training methods and to experience some of the incredible conditions mountaineers face every day when braving the Cairngorm mountain range.