Highlands & Islands

High rate of call-outs for Lochaber Mountain Rescue Team

Close up of a compass Image copyright Thinkstock
Image caption John Stevenson said people should be able to use a map and compass if heading into the hills

Lochaber Mountain Rescue Team has had to handle an "exceptional amount" of call-outs so far this year, its leader has said.

Three rescues on Sunday saw the team hit 91 shouts since the start of 2015.

Team leader John Stevenson said usually in a year the team would expect to be deployed on 70 to 100 occasions.

Bad weather, people making navigational errors or not leaving information about where they were going and then having an accident have been factors.

Mr Stevenson told BBC Radio Scotland: "We've had an exceptional amount of calls.

"We usually see 70 to 100 in a year. It depends on the weather and general conditions on the hills.

"The weather this year has been pretty poor and there have been lots of people having slips and trips."

'Big problem'

But Mr Stevenson said people were also getting into difficulty for other reasons.

He said: "Navigation has been a big issue this year. People should know how to use a map and compass and not be relying on mobile phones.

"Another big problem has been people not leaving information about where in the hills they are going. We are having to search big areas because of that."

Earlier this year, the Mountaineering Council of Scotland (MCofS) asked people not to rely on smartphones and GPS devices as navigation tools in the hills.

It urged hillwalkers not already versed in the use of a map and compass to learn the skill.

The council's warning was issued ahead of the busy summer walking season.

MCofS said there had been an incident where a couple had to be rescued from a situation they could have got out of themselves with a map and compass.

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