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The Cairngorm Tragedy 50 years on

Monday 22nd November 2021, 11:17am

Members of Mountaineering Scotland were amongst those attending a memorial gathering at the weekend to mark 50 years since the Cairngorms Disaster, when five schoolchildren and a trainee instructor died from hypothermia on the Cairngorm Plateau.

The gathering, at Glenmore Lodge on Sunday 21st November, was one of several low-key events held out of respect for the victims and their friends and family and for all those were involved in the rescue and recovery.

Mountaineering Scotland President Brian Shackleton and CEO Stuart Younie were among those attending at Glenmore Lodge, which was where rescue efforts were coordinated from back in 1971.

Other private memorial events took place over the weekend, both in the Cairngorms and in Edinburgh, where the children came from. There was no media invited to any of the events.

The Cairngorm Disaster occurred in November 1971 when six teenage Edinburgh schoolchildren were on an expedition on the plateau between Cairngorm and Ben Macdui and, in deteriorating weather, failed to locate an emergency refuge, spending two nights in the open on the high plateau. A major search operation was launched in appalling conditions, but when they were found only the group’s leader and one of the children were still alive.

A fatal accident inquiry led to changes in the way school expeditions were run.

Stuart Younie said: “This was a dreadful tragedy at the time and I think it’s fitting that we gathered on this 50th anniversary to remember the victims and their families and friends, and to recognise the courage and strength of all who were involved in the rescue and recovery.

“It also underlines the importance of the work done by ourselves and organisations such as Mountain Training Scotland, Glenmore Lodge and others dedicated to safety and skills, enabling and encouraging people to enjoy the Scottish mountains in a responsible manner.”