FIVE people had a lucky escape after they were swept hundreds of feet down Ben Nevis by an avalanche.
No one was seriously hurt in the incident, which happened just before 12.45pm on Sunday January 4, when a cornice collapsed in No 4 gully.
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The avalanche is understood to have been caused by two people abseiling who also escaped the incident unhurt.
A rescue helicopter from Prestwick was in the area on a training operation and took members of Lochaber Mountain Rescue Team to the scene.
John Stevenson, team leader, said all of those involved in the drama were lucky to have walked away.
He said: “A group of five were in the vicinity of No 4 gully,
“They were either entering the gully or coming out when the cornice collapsed on them and washed them down. It was easily 980ft down, maybe more.
“Someone else who was on top of the hill phoned the police to say what happened.
“We couldn’t see them and didn’t know what condition they were in.
“Because five people had been swept away it could have been a major incident so we started moving all the machinery and people we needed up the hill.
“We were in the helicopter on our way up to check the gully when we got the phone call to say that all five were safe.
“We got dropped off and went to speak to them. They were all fine, just shocked.
“It was a long way to fall. They were lucky.
“One had a slightly injured ankle but he was walking.
“It was a good outcome in our eyes. It could have been a lot worse.”
A spokesman for the RAF said Rescue 137 helicopter from Lossiemouth was scrambled but was not required.
He said: “A cornice had collapsed and witnesses saw five people swept over the side,
“Rescue 177 picked up the mountain rescue team from Lochaber and took them up there. They found five people, who were OK.
“They also found two people who were the abseilers who initiated the cornice collapse. They were also OK.”
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