A WOMAN ice-climber was left with a broken back and serious head injuries after a 15-tonne section of a frozen waterfall collapsed on her yesterday, causing her to plummet 165ft (50 metres).
By chance, an army trauma doctor – recently returned from Afghanistan – was on hand to provide first aid and stay with the injured woman until mountain rescuers arrived.
The woman was climbing a frozen waterfall known as “Oui Oui” on Creag Dubh near Newtonmore in the Grampians.
Another frozen waterfall overhangs Oui Oui and a 20ft (6m) section gave way, smashing down on the climber.
Dr Christine Paterson, from Inverness, was also climbing Oui Oui with husband Gary Kinsey, when the accident happened around 1pm.
She said: “The woman was knocked unconscious for about 30 seconds. I thought she was dead but then she started screaming. She had a head injury but it wasn’t bleeding much and she had a hat on so I left it alone.”
She added: “She was in pain all the time. She has a broken back.”
The woman was taken by ambulance to Raigmore Hospital in Inverness.
The incident happened as snow swept across Scotland yesterday. Some rural communities got 10in (25cm) of snow yesterday, with southern, central and North-east Scotland hardest hit. More than 70 schools from the Borders to Aberdeenshire either closed completely or sent pupils home early to avoid the treacherous conditions.
At the height of the blizzards, eight lorries became stuck in the snow on the A82 between Crianlarich and Tyndrum, and a woman had to be airlifted to hospital with a head injury after a two-vehicle crash on the A98 Macduff to Fraserburgh road near Longmanhill in Aberdeenshire.
Early-morning flights at Aberdeen airport were disrupted after the runway was closed for snow to be cleared.
Elsewhere in Aberdeenshire, the A939 Ballater to Corgarff road, the B9784 Banchory to Fettercairn road and the B976 Crathie to Gairnshiel road were closed.
In Stirlingshire, the A821 Aberfoyle to Callander road was also closed at the Duke’s Pass for a time, as was the A73 Cumbernauld to Abington road at Hyndford Bridge, Lanarkshire.
A spokesman for Grampian Police warned: “There are hazardous driving conditions in various parts of the region. Many routes are affected by lying snow and slush.”
The deteriorating conditions during the day forced a number of primary schools in rural areas to close early. By lunchtime, a total of 25 schools were closed in Aberdeenshire, 20 in Angus, and 26 in Perth and Kinross.
One school was closed in South Lanarkshire, four partially closed in the Borders, two closed early in Stirling, and pupils at eight school in Dumfries and Galloway also enjoyed an early end to the school day. Perth College closed at midday.
Up to 8in (20cm) of snow was expected overnight in the Tomintoul, Dufftown and Cabrach areas of Moray.
Last night, a Met Office spokesman said most of Scotland was set for at least a brief respite from the Arctic conditions over the weekend.
He said: “It is going to be quite a fine day until later in the afternoon when we get the next [weather] system pushing its way through. This will bring a band of heavy rain, with snow on the very tops of the hills and mountains. That will clear through early Sunday to be replaced by blustery showers.”
He added: “The showers will push across the north-west and through to the hills and mountains, and some will carry snow. We are not completely out of the woods yet for snow. But most of that second band will be rain, with up to 4cm falling over western hills.”
Daytime temperatures are forecast to be slightly above the seasonal norm of between 5C and 7C over the weekend.
The lingering snow in the Cairngorms will mean the annual Aviemore Sled Dog Rally, which begins today at Glenmore Forest Park, will take place on snowcovered tracks for only the second time in its 30-year history. Around 1,000 dogs and their handlers are expected to take part in the two-day event.