Rescued couple ‘relieved’ after freezing night in Cairngorms

Bob and Cathy Elmer, who were rescued from Cairngorm Mountain on Monday. Picture: Peter Jolly
Bob and Cathy Elmer, who were rescued from Cairngorm Mountain on Monday. Picture: Peter Jolly
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A couple who became trapped in whiteout conditions in the Cairngorms have spoken of their relief when they were found by rescuers after a freezing night on the mountain.

Bob Elmer, 59, and his wife Cathy, 56, were reported missing after failing to return from a New Year’s Day walk near Glenmore.

The Leicestershire couple endured a night in the hills in waist-deep snow and sub-zero temperatures before being rescued by the Cairngorm Mountain Rescue Team at noon on Monday.

Speaking to BBC Scotland after their ordeal, Mr Elmer said: “The snow was at times up to our waists.

“We eventually got out on to the plateau with the intention of trying to find the summit of Cairngorm then my headlamp gave up so we decided we couldn’t go on any further.

“We didn’t know really where we were going.

“You couldn’t see your hand in front of your face, so we decided to get the survival bags out.”

Rescue teams battled with 50mph winds and temperatures as low as -6C as they searched the Cairngorm plateau overnight to locate the couple.

A helicopter was scrambled in the morning and the team eventually found the couple huddled in a lightweight bivvy bag with their dog and escorted them to safety.

Mr Elmer told STV News of his relief when rescuers arrived.

He said: “I was desperate for daylight to come so we could finish the journey. But I was hoping for clear conditions.

“It was white-out with a wind – I don’t think you can know until you experience it.

“The mountains can be dangerous.

“We’re so grateful to the mountain rescue. It was such a relief to see them.”

Willie Anderson, leader of Cairngorm Mountain Rescue Team, said the use of the bivvy bag had probably saved their lives.

Mr Anderson said: “They spent the night on the plateau on open ground.

“They were in pretty poor nick but it could have been a lot worse.

“It wouldn’t have been good if they had been out there much longer.

“They misjudged how long their walk would take them yesterday, and then the cloud closed in and it started snowing. They were a bit disorientated but at least they had a bivvy bag to shelter them. 
That probably saved their lives.”

Three dog walkers had to be rescued from Ben Lomond last week after getting lost in the snow and mist.

Early last year, experienced hikers Rachel Slater, 24, and Tim Newton, 27, from Bradford, were killed by an avalanche on Ben Nevis.