Operations Page

Operations 1989

February 1989. On the 28th of February, in conditions of heavy snow cover and in rising temperatures, a fit and well-equipped party were traversing the Five Sisters of Kintail. In the afternoon they left the ridge and descended into Coire Domhain. A wet slab avalanche occurred and one of the party could not be found. Others went the entire length of Glen Lichd to raise the alarm.

Two dog handlers from Northern Constabulary Dog Section followed by members of Kintail and Kinloss Mountain Rescue Teams were deployed to the avalanche site by a helicopter from D Flight 202 Sqn Royal Air Force (complete with film team).

After the initial dog search, a probe search was conducted for several hours. A couple of hours into the search, the dog that was still searching a little way ahead of the search line got a scent. A pit was dug but nothing was found. Wet avalanches trap no air and provide few pathways for a scent to emerge. Such pathways that do exist can be long and misleading.

In the closing hours of the day, another scent was detected. Probing revealed an object beneath the snow and digging commenced. The casualty was found completely buried and showing no signs of life. Flying conditions had worsened and he was carried to Glen Lichd House and then by vehicle to Morvich.


Northern Constabulary's Dog Sergeant on his way to Kintail by helicopter


Kinloss Leader and Kintail's base operator record information about the incident

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Winching onto the hillside near the avalanche site in fading light


Probing the avalanche debris

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Still probing later that night


"When you get through the ice there's something springy. ... No?"

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"Hey boys, I think I've got something over here. Bring the shovels."


After an estimated 6 hours in a wet slab avalanche, a positive outcome is unlikely

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The teams prepare to move the casualty from the scene


The searchers take the casualty to Glen Lichd House

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This rescue operation formed the greater part of Episode 11 'Avalanche' of the ITV series 'Rescue' which followed the work of D Flight 202 Sqn Royal Air Force for one year from early 1988 to early 1989. All the images shown here are from that episode and are shown courtesy of Paul Berriff.

If your computer is capable of playing video clips from 'youtube' then click on the logo below to view a clip from the 'Rescue' episode. (Approximate minimum system requirements: 500kbps broadband connection, Pentium III/AMD Duron or better, Win98SE/MacOS9 or better, Netscape 6/MSIE 5 or better, Javascript, Macromedia Flash.)

Link to a video clip of 'Rescue' on YouTube

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Operations Page