The coastguard helicopter searching for missing climbers was diverted to the Creag Meagaidh avalanche. Photograph: Andrew Milligan/PA
Libby Brooks Scotland, The Guardian, February 17, 2016
Two men have died and three people are in hospital following a devastating day on Scotland’s hills and mountainsides.
Four mountain rescue teams were scrambled to Creag Meagaidh in the Highlands on Wednesday afternoon, following reports of an avalanche by a group of climbers who spotted equipment believed to belong to those trapped underneath.
Two people were transferred to hospital. One of them was in a serious condition and died soon afterwards. The search for further survivors was suspended at about 6pm after one of those rescued confirmed there were only two people in his party.
Inspector Donald Campbell said: “Police Scotland would like to thank all rescue personnel involved in [Wednesday’s] rescue for the rapid response and determination displayed in very challenging conditions.”
The Creag Meagaidh range, on the northern side of Glen Spean, is one of Scotland’s most popular areas for mountain sports and is famous for steep cliffs that offer a challenge to experienced climbers. The avalanche risk for the area was designated to be “considerable” on Wednesday.
Police Scotland also confirmed that one of three elderly hillwalkers who had been missing since Tuesday in Dumfries and Galloway had died.
The three men, who live locally and were regular trekkers, had disappeared in the Southern Uplands on Tuesday afternoon. They were spotted on open ground by a search and rescue helicopter about three miles east of the village of Durisdeer.
Bobby Thomson, 64, George Crosbie, 73, and Jeffrey Stewart, 74, told family members that they would return by 3.30pm on Tuesday and relatives called the police two hours later when they failed to appear.
A post on the Facebook page of Moffat mountain rescue team described the weather conditions overnight as “very wet and windy, very little visibility”.
The two surviving hillwalkers were being treated for hypothermia in hospital.
Wednesday’s avalanche, which happened about 19 miles north-east of Ben Nevis, also diverted resources from the ongoing search for missing climbers Rachel Slater and Tim Newton. A coastguard helicopter that had been leading the search for the couple was diverted north to attend the avalanche at about 4pm.
Mountain rescuers had been searching for the couple from Bradford, West Yorkshire, who disappeared on Britain’s highest mountain during a weekend climbing trip. The pair had not left information about their planned route.
The search has been severely hampered by poor weather conditions on the mountain, and it was only deemed safe to resume it late on Wednesday morning.
Donald Paterson, from Lochaber mountain rescue team, said his colleagues had not given up hope of finding the couple alive: “It’s only two days, we’re only looking at two days at the moment. We’ve actually had people on the Ben who have survived for four days.
“That’s why at this stage, we’re certainly not giving up and we’ll continue to do our best until we hear otherwise or hear any positive information that we can rely on otherwise.”
The couple are believed to have travelled to Ben Nevis for a Valentine’s Day trip. The alarm was raised on Monday morning by Slater’s employers after she failed to arrive for work.
John Stevenson, who is leading the rescue effort, told BBC Radio Scotland: “We’re expecting more bad weather so we’ve put everything on hold and are reviewing it.
“As time goes on it’s very difficult, the weather conditions have been really bad and that no one has heard from them or seen them is a worry. You always have hope but as time goes on that diminishes quite rapidly.”
This article originally appeared on guardian.co.uk
This article was written by Libby Brooks Scotland correspondent from The Guardian and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.