Though it weighs just a few grams, costs peanuts, and fits un-noticed in your pocket, a humble whistle could be one of the most important things you carry on a hillwalking, winter climbing or mountain crag day. Mountain rescue veteran Heavy Whalley explains why.
I'm pleased to be able to say I have carried a whistle on my days in the hills for about 60 years* and never had the need to use it. In fact, I usually have at least two - one on a lanyard attached to my compass and one clipped into the key clip in my rucksack. I also discovered some time ago that some rucksacks have small whistles built into part of the clips on a chest strap.
*Not the same whistle for all that time.
very good reminder. I think they are one of the most useful bits of crevasse rescue kit as well. Often there will be other people within whistle range in the Alps and more people on top makes things much easier.
A friend had an accident on an easy multi pitch climb in North Wales when a big piece of the mountain came off in his hand. I think his belayer might have been hurt too. My friend was left badly injured and dangling upside down, and was absolutely unable to reach the whistle in his pack. They managed to get help by shouting but he always wore his whistle somewhere reachable after that. Of course I have ignored his experience and my whistle is generally somewhere in the top pocket of my pack.
Always have a whistle, a small knife and my prussic loops on one krab clipped to my harness when multi-pitch climbing.
I was going to suggest that a chest buckle whistle was in chocolate teapot territory but, on second thoughts, that would be harsh on chocolate teapots.
I've never carried a whistle, however after reading about this rescue I have now ordered two.
Quite few waterproof jackets in the past had a whistle tied into the chest / map pockets. Sometimes there's method in the madness.
I have my grannies school dinner ladies whistle from the 1970’s.
Used it once, 1995, from the top of the Aig de Tour it was heard at the Albert Prem Hut who called the helicopter rescue ( see photo in gallery)
Kids, take the advice get a whistle when you go into the mountains.
I once rescued some cragfast walkers on An Teallach in winter (they had been there all night) who attracted our attention with a whistle. We beat the helicopter a worried friend had summoned by about ten minutes. I always carry one.
On 'adventurous' routes I girth hitch the whistle lanyard through the back of my helmet and drop it down the back of my jacket. It is immediately forgotten but if it is needed, it is there. If my helmet ever becomes detached from the rest of me then I probably have bigger problems.
I usually wear one on a cord around my neck, just long enough to blow it without taking it off.
I have had a whistle on a bit of elastic threaded to the back strap of my helmet - then tucks down jacket. Most effective in winter.
i first saw it on a chamonix rescue person climbing the same route in winter.
It has always struck me that if Joe Simpson and Simon Yates had been carrying whistles on Siula Grande Joe might not have had to crawl down the glacier on his own. The next morning Simon Yates passed within a couple of hundred yards of where Joe was. If either had blown their whistle "just in case" the other would probably have heard it and replied.
FWIW, I always carry one on a thin bit of tat round my neck. In an emergency it could be used as a prussick or to larks foot around a damaged peg/bolt or even tie off a chicken head. I actually have a friend who did once use his to rest on by tying it to some sort of in situ metal that couldn't be clipped which saved him from a big fall when he got totally pumped on a long runout.
My first whistle was an acme referee whistle with a wooden pea in it. It was loud. That would have been the late 70s. Now I use the loud orange ones.
I've always carried one, usually round my neck, on a safety cord. The ones on rucksack harnesses are pants though.
> It has always struck me that if Joe Simpson and Simon Yates had been carrying whistles on Siula Grande Joe might not have had to crawl down the glacier on his own. The next morning Simon Yates passed within a couple of hundred yards of where Joe was. If either had blown their whistle "just in case" the other would probably have heard it and replied.
> FWIW, I always carry one on a thin bit of tat round my neck. In an emergency it could be used as a prussick or to larks foot around a damaged peg/bolt or even tie off a chicken head. I actually have a friend who did once use his to rest on by tying it to some sort of in situ metal that couldn't be clipped which saved him from a big fall when he got totally pumped on a long runout.
Completely agree. Last time we had a cutting the rope thread I suggested this and got savaged for reasons I still don't understand!
Thanks for the reminder. I usually carry one but obviously should start having it more readily available and not in my rucksack. No battery to fail, works where no phone reception and at night, minimal weight.
Obviously carrying a whistle is sensible, but has limitations with wind and the requirement for someone to be listening and willing to act.
I was once told a story of a Sea kayak leader assessment being carried out under the skye Bridge. The coastguard had been informed that people would be out of their boats swimming and whistles ect would be used.
Usual scenario games, sea kayak party split, some out of boats, one injured. Assessor ask the assessed what they would do. First answer was raise the alarm. Ok how would you do that? Candidate looks around and sees pedestrian on Bridge, and answers that protocol would be to put out a VHF Maday, but in this instance they would blow on their whistle to alert the pedestrian who would call the coastguard. Which would be quicker and allow them to get straight on to regrouping the party and organise putting people back on boats.
The assessor said ok let’s see if that works, and whistles………the pedestrian just carries on walking.