TWO mountain climbers have thanked their rescue “heroes” after becoming trapped in the avalanche-struck Cairngorms.
Tom Riddelsdell, 27, and Matthew Beals, 28, fought through the 16-hour battle by sharing a sleeping bag before being plucked from danger by rescue teams on Thursday.
The pair had been on a climb at Stag Rocks at Loch Avon, but had become disoriented when darkness fell. They dug a small snow cave to protect themselves, but the shelter collapsed on top of them.
Mr Beals, 28, from Preston, said: “It was dripping wet and we could hear the winds howling and the spindrift.”
Rescue leader Willie Anderson said: “If they did not have a bivvy bag, it would have been a different story.”
Experts recommend climbers and off-piste skiers research recent incidents and always avoid large build-ups on ridges which could gave way.
Climbers should always take a transceiver to raise the alarm, and a shovel and pole to probe for survivors. If caught in an avalanche, they should put their hands in front of their face to maintain an air space, then try to reach the surface.
Some survivors say a swimming motion helps them to stay close to the top of the snow wave. The chances of recovering a buried person alive are more than 80 per cent in the first 15 minutes but less than 50 per cent after 30 minutes.