‘Harsh, blowy and dangerous’ on the mountain, but Glencoe Mountain Rescue Team answered the call

Andy Nelson: 'Avalanche warnings every day in winter'
Andy Nelson: 'Avalanche warnings every day in winter'
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Mountain rescue team volunteers risked their lives in “dangerous and difficult” conditions to respond to the emergency call reporting the fatal avalanche.

Andy Nelson, deputy leader of Glencoe Mountain Rescue Team, said 25 members were assisted by 25 others from the Lochaber team in the six-hour call-out on saturday.

Mr Nelson, 45, who was in charge of the Glencoe team, said: “It was a tragic accident. It was typical Scottish mountain conditions, there were many parties climbing all over the glen all day.

“There were avalanche warnings, but there are every day through the winter. It is completely routine to climb in that.”

He said both mountain rescue teams did a “fantastic job” in difficult conditions.

He added: “There were 25 of the Glencoe team, and we then asked Lochaber to get involved and they came along with about 25 as well.

“They were well organised and willing to work in dangerous conditions. It was a long and difficult job, we were called out at 1.50pm and the job was concluded at 8pm.”

The alarm was raised by phone. Mr Nelson said: “One of the party called from a mobile phone.

“When we got there the avalanche had come to a halt. The first obvious considerations were making sure that the scene was safe for the teams to go in and start searching.

“Safety is the first consideration of the team that are actually looking for folk. Then it was a case of utilising people to try and find people. It’s always going to be difficult because you are in an environment that is harsh, it’s blowy, it’s always going to be difficult.

“There were four other passing climbers that maybe didn’t quite witness it, but were on the scene immediately and they worked hard to help as well.

“The navy helicopter from Gannet was on scene, and it did excellent work to help out.”

Saturday was the third day in a row that the Glencoe team had been called out on rescues.

Mr Nelson said: “We were out from 1am-8am on Friday morning and from 5pm-8pm on Thursday.”

Speaking of Saturday’s incident he said: “Because of the nature of the accident and the difficult conditions, these jobs take a long time.”

Damian Beagan, 40, bar manager of Glencoe Hotel, said: “It’s a horrendous tragedy for all concerned. Our thoughts are with the families.

“We had had, at most, four climbers staying this weekend, they have been staying away because of the weather.”