Calum Mallory (pictured right) is a climber, alpinist and
mountaineer, whose joy is focussing on winter ascents that require advanced
technical skills and knowledge to conquer. Bear Grylls and Sir Ranulph Fiennes both have praised Mallory as an adventurer, and it was on a recent expedition on Ben Nevis in the Scottish Highlands that Mallory once again found the odds stacked
against him when out exploring. Here’s his recount of the string of events, and how Lifesystems' survival kit meant the difference between
life and death for this outdoor adventurer.
"I have always carried a Lifesystems
survival shelter in my bag when out in the mountains, even if it’s just on a
small walk in summer conditions. I most definitely will never be without one in
winter conditions. For me, a particular weekend in the Scottish hills confirmed
why it is so important to carry survival gear and to be fully prepared for the
worst whenever you are in the hills.
My girlfriend and I were climbing on
Ben Nevis in the height of the winter season. The day started with good, bright,
and even sunny conditions, which is very rare for winter climbing in Scotland.
That morning, whilst packing my bag for the day, I ensured I had my survival
shelter, along with a thermal blanket- even though my bag was bursting at the
We headed for the hills and started
climbing. Hours later, the weather had changed dramatically. The winds had
picked up- we were now in a white-out from low cloud cover, and the daylight was
It was from this point that we started
to encounter some problems. We were being hit hard by the weather, and as a
result, I had lost an essential part of a climber’s kit- my ice axe. We still
had a fair way to go to finish the route, and without an ice axe, this would be
very hard and dangerous.
We decided that the safest option for
us now was to get off the mountain fast. We abseiled off of our route down a
gully that proved to be longer than we thought. After the first abseil we were
at our second abseil point. This is where it all went wrong. We prepared to
pull the ropes through, but quickly realised they were jammed. What we would
later learn was that the knot had come jammed into a rock crack, preventing us
from pulling the ropes through.
Without an axe it would be near
impossible to climb back up the abseil route to free the jammed ropes. We
couldn’t climb up, nor could we climb down without a rope due to the severity
and steepness of the climb on the unconsolidated snow gully.
This was the point when it hit home.
We were rim-rocked, there was no way up and no way down- a very tough situation
to be in, and one which I had never experienced before. We were being hit hard
by strong bitter cold winds, snow drift and the hours of light had expired many
hours before. It was this point when it was time to click into survival
We kicked ourselves a small ledge out
of the steep angled snow slopes to give ourselves a stable and comfortable
platform to figure out our next plan. I remembered that my Lifesystems survival shelter was in my bag, and quickly got to work with getting it unwrapped and
getting us inside. It instantly made a huge difference as we were now protected
from the wind and the elements. Having the shelter meant that we could now
change out of wet clothes for dry ones, add additional layers and also give us
time to think away from the distraction of the bitter strong winds.
After thinking through many plans, we
had no option but to call for help in the form of Mountain Rescue. We now had a
long wait of many hours before any help would arrive so we pulled out the thermal blankets to keep nice and warm, and sat on our bags to insulate us from
After a nine hour ordeal, rescue had
arrived and we were able to safely make it off of the mountain.
(Below: Aerial view of Ben Nevis Summit, from www.friendsofnevis.co.uk)
Without the amazing kit from Lifesystems,
our unplanned overnight bivvy in the harsh Scottish mountains would have had a
serious or even fatal outcome.
We would like to say a massive thank
you to the Lochaber Mountain Rescue team for the incredible work that they do,
and for giving up their free time in order to help out fellow climbers in need.
Their inspiring work and help does not go unnoticed and is greatly
The mountains are unpredictable and
accidents can easily happen. It is because of this that I am never without my
survival shelter and other items such as my first aid kit, thermal blankets,
glow sticks and whistle.
If you are planning a trip out, no
matter if it’s in the summer months or just a short route that you know very
well, never be without a Lifesystems survival set-up. They weigh next to
nothing, and only use up a small amount of space in your bag, but they are lifesavers…
literally. They’ll be your best friend when you get caught out in the
This recount of his experience
was shared by Calum with the Lifesystems team and shows how, when you least
expect it, packing that survival kit pays off when you're encountering the great outdoors.
Check out Calum’s own blog at his
dedicated website here.