25 Years Ago

22nd November 1996 at 00:00
Dr George Reith, director of education, gave Edinburgh education committee a report of the facts of the expedition in which five Ainslie Park pupils and an instructress had died on Cairngorm at the weekend.

The combined party had left Edinburgh on Friday, and spent Friday night in Lagganlia. At 11 a.m. on Saturday the party had left Lagganlia, had gone to the car park at the Aviemore ski slopes, and then had lunch in the restaurant at the top of the chairlift.

The party had then split into two sections and set off with the intention of reassembling at the Corrour bothy on Saturday, returning to Lagganlia on Sunday. One section had returned on Sunday, and the principal of Lagganlia had given the alert that the other section was missing. Of the whole party of 17, six had lost their lives and two were in hospital.

In response to questions about the nature of the children's clothing and equipment, Dr Reith said the councillors should bear in mind the possibility of an official inquiry.

Councillor George Foulkes (Labour) said it was not right for the councillors to try to apportion blame for the disaster.

Among comments on the tragedy, Mr Raymond Thomasson, assistant secretary of the EIS, said that parties of children on hill climbing expeditions were invariably led by teachers who were experienced mountaineers or qualified instructors but the wisest and most provident leadership could be overtaken by the violent and unpredictable changes in the weather.

Mr James Scobbie, president of the Headmasters Association of Scotland and headmaster of Dalziel Academy, Motherwell, said he would now have reservations about letting pupils go into the mountains in winter. But he had no reservations about the ability or the responsibility of any of the instructors or leaders he had known in charge of such expeditions.


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