AN “EXPERIENCED” climber who died on Britain’s highest mountain on Saturday was named yesterday as a 22-year-old man from Essex.
An investigation has been launched after Ben St Joseph fell over 400 feet (122 metres) to his death on Ben Nevis – exactly a week after four climbers lost their lives in the Scottish Highlands.
Mr St Joseph fell while climbing the popular Tower Ridge on Ben Nevis into Tower Gully below.
Last night his family paid tribute, saying he had recently been commissioned in the Royal Army Medical Corps.
His father, Andrew, said: “He was a very fit and experienced climber and had been on Ben Nevis before.
“He has climbed in the Andes and the Grampians and this climb was well within his capabilities.
“We don’t know the exact details of the accident but we do know that Ben was within sight and sound of others when it happened.
“He was an active, hard- working committed medical student who will be greatly missed by all who knew him. He was a friend, colleague, son, brother and grandson.”
Mr St Joseph, a cattle farmer from Tollesbury, Essex, added: “Ben knew about risk – he had flown in crop-dusting planes in Australia and climbed in Peru and worked on a farm.
“We wouldn’t want his death to discourage other young people from exploring the world and their limits.”
Ben was completing a medical course at Bristol University before taking up his commission in the army.
Police at Fort William confirmed that Mr St Joseph had “sustained fatal injuries”.
“A report is being prepared for the procurator-fiscal,” said a spokesman. John Stevenson, team leader of Lochaber Mountain Rescue, who were called out to the tragedy, said it was a bad fall and “did not look good” when the man was found.
He added: “We think he was climbing on his own. We do not know which part of the Tower he fell from – but he was seen by two other climbers fall a long way. He must have fallen at least 400 feet. It is a long fall from where we think he was.”
The avalanche risk was said to be “high” – the second highest category – in Lochaber on Saturday. But Mr Stevenson said that he did not believe the accident was avalanche-related.
“It is just one of those tragic things – it is one of the risks that climbers take. The Tower Ridge is probably the most popular climbing route – both in summer and winter – on the Ben.
“The conditions were pretty good. He was just on the verge of cloud level.”
The previous Saturday, four climbers died on 3,773-feet Bidean Nam Bian in Glencoe.
A 24-year-old woman who survived the tragedy remains in hospital, while a sixth climber, an unnamed man, escaped with minor injuries.