CAIRNGORMS, SCOTLAND - DECEMBER 15, 2012: Dave Cawthorn of the Tweed Valley Mountain Rescue Team, on the radio in Coire an t-Sneachda, Cairngorms, Scotland

You may recall I've made a commitment to volunteer photography services to Mountain Rescue in an attempt to raise money for Oban Mountain Rescue Team.

As a result, I received an invite to attend the 2012 Scottish Mountain Rescue Conference from the Mountain Rescue Committee of Scotland (MRCoS). Their kind gesture was designed to let me to find out more about national mountain rescue plus give me the opportunity to take more pictures for my photo essay.

The Scottish Mountain Rescue Conference is a two-day affair, this year held at Glenmore Lodge, Scotland's national outdoor training centre, in the heart of the Cairngorms National Park. The conference is well attended from the 27 volunteer Scottish Mountain Rescue teams plus the three Police and two RAF teams. I'll emphasise the volunteer aspect of the majority of the teams as a great many people think they get paid to practice their skills and help people off the hills (often in horrendous weather) and this is not the case.

My plan for the conference was to hook up with Dave Cawthorn of Tweed Valley Mountain Rescue Team. Dave is a keen photographer who edits the MRCoS's online magazine, Casbag. I was keen to learn more about mountain rescue from him as we covered a couple of the outdoor workshops - 'Fixed Lines/Short Roping Casualties' and 'Winter Navigation/GPS'.

On Saturday, we took a gamble and headed into the popular winter climbing corrie, Coire an t-Sneachda, an hour before the workshops. Somewhere in that hour though, plans changed and Dave and I ended up in an almost empty corrie (the avalanche forecast putting the usual hordes of climbers off). Unable to contact anyone on the radio, Dave kindly agreed to stand in as a model for me and let me shoot a few different shots of him in front of Alladin's Buttress. We then returned to the Cairngorm Ski Centre and rode the funicular up to near the summit. Strong, cold winds made the final ascent to Cairn Gorm more interesting than normal and my camera lens froze clear over with water ice! So all in all, no photos from any of the workshops but good company and education from Dave and it's always nice to be out in the Cairngorms in winter.

(Part 2 - to follow soon - covers a more successful day at the Scottish Mountain Rescue Conference, with shots from a hypothermia workshop tutored by Stuart Johnston, well-respected Mountain Instructor and the MRCoS's Training Officer).