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With a chain of successful outdoor shops and a lifestyle that includes the sort of boys-own adventures others can only dream about, it’s all too easy to envy Chris Tiso.

But only a few weeks have passed since what must have been another heartbreaking day for 42-year-old Chris and the extended members of the Tiso family.

It should have been the day his brother Donald married his beloved fiancee, Julie.

But instead of being surrounded by champagne and roses, the day was spent quietly remembering Donald, who died in January on a mountain near Fort William.

He and a friend had been walking on Ben Starav, a Munro near the village of Taynuilt, when he slipped and fell.

It’s not the first time fate has dealt the family a cruel blow. Chris has suffered from a brain haemorrhage, while his father Graham died, aged 57, in a boating accident in 1992, leaving his wife and co-founder Maude and 21-year-old Chris, to take over the running of the business.

“We’ve had no shortage of tragedy in this family but I didn’t need recent events to reinforce the feeling I have that we are only here once, and not for long, and sometimes it’s for a lot less than we think,” said Chris.

“Therefore, my view is that while my family and life has been tinged with terrific loss, I have to be grateful for what we have rather than what we’ve lost. I’ve two happy, healthy children and have my health so want to embrace every day with the same degree of energy and optimism – that’s about as much as you can do.

“The family is still grieving, but I’m not one for dwelling on the past, and not one for dwelling on things you can do nothing about.”


The family’s love of adventure has led to tragedy, but also good times.

“I wasn’t with my father when he had his accident, and that came as a terrific shock to us all,” said Chris.

“It was just a very unfortunate accident with tragic consequences. Not just on a family level but because he’d been such an enigmatic leader within the outdoor business world. It’s the same with Donald’s death. He was a great guy with a wicked, dry sense of humour but naturally shy and reserved. He had a lot of good friends, was very well read, extremely knowledgeable about a wide number of things and a wonderful uncle to my children.


“The mountains have been part of our family and our life, and Donald loved them as much as the rest of us. His was a tragic accident – he was highly able and competent on the hills. I don’t blame him, the equipment or the mountains, the same way I don’t blame my father, the boat or sea for his accident. It was just bad luck and that can happen to anyone.”

Chris is immensely grateful for the professional attitude of the Scottish Mountain Rescue (SMR) who worked so hard to help his brother, and all those who get into trouble on the mountains.

By way of a thank you, and in a bid to raise awareness and money for the SMR, he is urging Scots to gather friends, colleagues and families to take part in a sponsored fund-raising Munro challenge next month.


Over the past few years there has been an annual increase in mountaineering incidents across Scotland, with approximately 600 rescues a year.

Ben Starav was the scene of another tragedy this week when mountain rescue teams faced lightning, torrential rain and landslides during the search for a climber who had gone missing. Despite their brave efforts the search ended in tragedy when a helicopter crew found the missing man at the bottom of a gully.

SMR is under increasing pressure and the sponsorship money raised through this new Munro Challenge will help raise awareness of the charity’s voluntary work.

Chris has pledged to hike the mighty Glencoe ridge, the Aonach Eagach, with an old school pal, Rupert Reeves and has promised his eight-year-old son, Angus, they’ll walk together to the top of Ben Nevis.

“I’ve been promising him we’ll do this for some time, but knowing that it is in his uncle’s honour will spur him on,” said Chris.

His son’s young age doesn’t worry him, after all Chris has dabbled with danger all his days.

“I got my love of the great outdoors from both parents equally,” said Chris.

“I tackled my first Munro before I could walk, in a papoose strapped to my dad’s back, but it was mum who first took me up the hills under my own steam.

“I vividly remember those early camping trips, spending the night in a tiny Sanderson tent. The midges were hellish, so she burned mosquito coils all night. We were half gassed at night but had a terrific time on the hills the next day!

“I also sailed the world with my dad. We did a huge amount of two-handed sailing, not only round the coast of Scotland but across the Bay of Biscay, the Atlantic to Greenland and Arctic Norway.

“Life is an adventure,” said Chris.

It’s with this in mind he’s urging Scots of all ages to experience a little adventure themselves in September by taking part in The Isle of Skye Blended Scotch Whisky Munro Challenge. The aim is simple, climb one or more of Scotland’s Munros next month and all money raised will go direct to SMR for new equipment, stretchers and avalanche training.

“Munro Challenges are 10 a plenty but this is the first organised event in aid of the charity alone. It presents the ideal opportunity to enjoy the great outdoors and embark on a new adventure with friends and family, all for a great cause.

“More and more pressure is being placed on Scottish Mountain Rescue resources. By signing up for the challenge you are quite literally helping the volunteers with every step you take.”

Jonathan Hart, chair of SMR, said: “Volunteer Scottish Mountain Rescue teams respond to over 700 rescues a year.

“Each civilian voluntary Scottish Mountain and cave Rescue team has approximately 30 to 40 team members drawn from a cross section of their local community who freely give up their time to respond to those in distress across the mountains, hills, moorlands and other areas of Scotland with restricted access.

“We are very fortunate to receive some grant funding from both the Scottish and UK governments and this amounts to approximately 10% of our annual running costs.

“As a result we still rely hugely on voluntary contributions from the public and support from Scottish businesses and charities.”

Each entrant in The Isle of Skye Blended Scotch Whisky Munro Challenge will receive a flag to fly at the summit with everyone encouraged to post a picture. All funds raised will be donated to the Scottish Mountain Rescue. Visit