The search for an experienced skier missing after being caught up in a major avalanche in the Scottish Highlands resumed today.
The man was skiing in an off-piste area behind Glencoe Ski Centre with his friend when the avalanche struck at about 1pm yesterday.
He was swept away during the incident and efforts to find him have so far been unsuccessful.
Rescuers last night conceded that it was unlikely the man could have survived.
About 30 people from Glencoe and Lochaber mountain rescue teams, police, the mountain resort’s ski patrol and a helicopter from RAF Lossiemouth all helped with the operation in the Etive Glades.
John Grieve, leader of Glencoe Mountain Team, said the avalanche travelled about 1,000ft down the rocky face of the slope.
“The avalanche has actually gone into a gully, and in some places the snow is about 40ft deep,” he said.
“Our guys have been out digging deep trenches and probing from there, as our poles are obviously not long enough to do it from the surface of the snow.
“The missing man is an extremely experienced skier... we will continue looking until we find him.”
Mr Grieve added that, given the circumstances, it was unlikely the skier would be found alive.
“It’s not like a normal ski slope where it is mainly smooth and straight,” he said. “There are a lot of rocks around and it is more dangerous.”
The missing skier’s friend is not thought to have been hurt in the incident.
Mark Fulton, 25, from Gourock, Inverclyde, was skiing all day with his family on the slopes at the Glencoe Ski Centre and saw the rescue mission unfold.
“I was up there from about 10am and at lunchtime we went in to get something to eat at the cafe and we saw an emergency helicopter hovering about,” he said.
“It looked as though it was coming in to land near the bottom of the hill. When we were leaving later I saw police and mountain rescue vans all gathered as well.
“I didn’t actually know there had been an avalanche until I was driving home and heard it on the radio.
“It’s just not something you think about when you’re going out skiing, you never think something like that will happen to you - it’s like when you get on a plane, you don’t think it’s going to crash.
“I just hope the person is found safe and well.”
Glencoe Mountain Resort posted on its Facebook page yesterday: “(We) regret to say that an experienced off-piste skier skiing outwith the ski area was caught in a major avalanche this afternoon.”
Off-piste skiing, also referred to as “back country” skiing, involves the use of unofficial slopes which are not patrolled or maintained.
A forecast on the sportscotland Avalanche Information Service website yesterday placed Glencoe at “considerable risk” of an avalanche.
Meanwhile, police said an ice climber was airlifted off Ben Nevis on Friday after injuring his leg.
He was taken to Belford Hospital in Fort William by a helicopter from RAF Lossiemouth at about 4.45pm.
In a separate incident, a 48-year-old man was rescued when he injured himself while out walking in the Cuillin Hills, on the Isle of Skye on Friday.
He was airlifted to hospital in Glasgow and is said to be in a stable condition.