THE body of a hillwalker has been found in the Highlands following a mountain rescue search, police said.
The 57-year-old man, the 13th fatality on Scottish mountains this year, was found in the Streap area near Fort William in the West Highlands on Saturday, after being reported missing in conditions described by rescuers as “dangerous”.
The leader of a mountain rescue team said walkers and climbers were venturing out in conditions that he would not even attempt.
Northern Constabulary said its search and recovery of the body was supported by the Lochaber Mountain Rescue Team (MRT) and an RAF helicopter.
The helicopter dropped 29 rescuers – who included 11 from RAF Leuchars – about 2,500 feet up the 2988ft mountain. John Stevenson, the leader of Lochaber MRT, said the man had fallen and his body was found in a gully.
He had been missing since Friday night and the alarm was raised when he did not return.
“We think he fell on his way back down. He was well equipped – had all the right gear, including overnight gear – but the wind was incredible. It was wild,” he said.
“In fact, one of our lads was knocked off his feet by the force of the wind. It was that strong. The helicopter did an incredible job in the conditions to get us so far up the hill.
“On Friday night, we rescued a man who had been blown over by the wind coming down Ben Nevis and he dislocated his shoulder. We even used power saws to try and cut our way through a forest to get to him because he was in a difficult position, but in the end chose another route.
“However, the wind that night was the worst I have known. I have never been in wind like that – it was unbelievable. It knocked you off your feet. It was dangerous.”
He added: “The ridge walker who died on the Streap must have experienced similar conditions. It is not a day I would have gone out but there are people who do. They should always think twice about it in those conditions. He was apparently experienced and had come up for the weekend.
“People should check the conditions and don’t feel a pressure to go on the hill, especially if they have travelled far and booked the weekend. It will still be there next week.”
The 2,988ft Streap – meaning the Steep One – is described by the Glenfinnan Estate website as “an exciting walk for experienced climbers”.
A group of mountaineers was caught up in an avalanche drama in the Cairngorms as ferocious blizzards swept the area on Friday. Three were injured as their party was engulfed by snow two miles from their base at Glenmore Lodge National Outdoor Training Centre near Aviemore.
In total, 13 climbers and walkers have now been killed on Scotland’s mountains this year – seven of them in avalanches.
The latest tragedy comes after a major safety warning was issued by Britain’s top mountaineering bodies for climbers and walkers to be “realistic about the seriousness” on Scottish mountains.
Four more have now died in as many accidents since the first, unprecedented warning from the British Mountaineering Council and the Mountaineering Council of Scotland in February.