Coming home from the Scottish hills in winter, perhaps after a storm had brewed up, friends and I would often wonder if people had got caught out in the Cairngorms. Sometimes we would read the next day in the papers of missing or dead people. A number of incidents stick in mind: the tragic death of a child out for a walk with her father and brother; the bizzare case of a woman who managed to elude the rescue services for several days, and on being found claimed to have recieved visions preventing her from walking over cornices.
So it was with great interest I read Cairngorm John. These incidents, and more, are brought to life by the man who was at the centre of mountain rescue in the Cairngorms for years. Not all are tragedies: there are the hilarious stories of the yeti hunters, the incredible cheerfulness and resilience of a climber who broke several bones and was stuck upside down in a waterfall for several hours, and a touching story of a man and his son bonding in the hills. We get the inside story on these, and on the team's relationship with police and RAF, and the challenges and responses of professionalism on the amateur volunteers.
Above all, John is a team player, which shines through in the slower-paced stories. I couldn't do what the likes of John did, but I'm grateful that folks like him and his volunteers are ready to come out in all weathers to help walkers and climbers in distress. As an inside look in the work of a mountain rescue team - and, by example, of what to do to improve your odds of coming home in one piece - this is going to be on the shelves of everyone who heads regularly for the Scottish hills.