Following my recent mishap, I am recovering from a broken femur. The ever-expanding collection of metal in my right leg means that I still can't walk unaided or bend my leg very much. I've therefore decided to set myself the challenge of completing a 60km off-road cycle race to raise funds for Lochaber Mountain Rescue team, to thank them for saving my life and to support the selfless work of the dedicated team of volunteers.
On the 18th February, whilst ski-touring in Scotland, I made a navigational error in whiteout conditions. To the horror of my friends behind me, I had unknowingly slowly skied off the edge of a monster 15ft cornice and disappeared straight down the imposing East Face of Aonach Beag. I experienced a horrific free-fall and multiple impacts resulting in an open fracture of my femur, a dislocated hip and dislocated shoulder. I finally stopped falling 300 metres from my starting point in a highly inaccessible location on the mountain.
What followed was a gruelling 13+ hour rescue effort involving the combined efforts of 22 members of Lochaber Mountain Rescue Team in addition to numerous Nevis Range Ski Patrol and staff members, Helicopter Search & Rescue 951 and my friends, Chris, Al and Brodie.
Deteriorating weather conditions meant helicopter rescue was impossible and the task of locating me became extremely difficult. 6 hours after my fall, Jeff reached me having abseiled from the summit, shortly after he was joined by James with the stretcher. Then began the arduous technical rescue to haul me 300 metres, by hand, to the summit, and extract me back to the safety of Nevis Range ski centre over 2 miles away. Conditions were miserable, it was dark, cold, windy and raining. The team at the top worked relentlessly, hauling frozen ropes and cutting a path through the cornice for over 6 hours, while James and Jeff manoeuvred my stretcher over dangerous steep terrain. The whole team showed incredible levels of professionalism, resilience and courage throughout... with a big dose of good humour.
I can't thank those involved enough for their efforts during my rescue. It is difficult to overstate the levels of risk experienced and sacrifices made by the men and women of LMRT in order to help people in need. Please give generously to support their great work. A huge thanks also to all the NHS staff who put me back together, the Air Ambulance Service and especially the amazing nurses at Belford Hospital and QEUH.