Hillwalker survives 400 ft fall from Glen Shiel

A SIXTY-year-old walker who plunged four hundred feet down a Highland peak miraculously survived after falling down a grassy ravine rather than onto rocky terrain.

The Forcan Ridge at Glen Shiel. Picture: Paul Birrell (CC) [http://www.geograph.org.uk/profile/322]

Mountain rescuer Gerry Ackroyd, leader of the Skye team, said the man was “lucky to be alive” after the incident in Wester Ross.

The tourist from England was airlifted to hospital after slipping and falling at the Forcan Ridge in Glen Shiel on Tuesday afternoon.

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Mountain rescuers from the Kintail team were called to the scene just after 3.20pm when the alarm was raised by the man’s walking companion.

The Stornoway Coastguard helicopter flew the man to Raigmore Hospital in Inverness.

He is understood to have suffered head and neck injuries, though his condition is described as “non life-threatening”.

Mr Ackroyd, whose team was also called to assist but was not required, said the exposed approach to The Saddle in which the man fell was luckily covered in grass.

He added: “He slipped and went bombing down, but it was grass all the way down. I’m not sure if there was snow at the bottom, but he was lucky to survive that.

“He bounced down a part of grass rather than an area of boulders and rocks. If had fallen on the west side, then that is where the boulders are.

“It is amazing he does not even seem to have broken any bones. But I am sure he is bruised all over.”

The accident came as warnings were issued to walkers planning a trip to the Highlands this Easter.

The Mountaineering Council of Scotland, which has over 12,000 members, say the high volume of snow which fell during the winter still poses a problem for those heading to the hills.

Mountain safety expert Heather Morning said: “At this time of year it is really difficult to know what to expect. One day on the hill could be warm, dry and calm with good visibility, the next you could be in a blizzard.

“The important thing is to be prepared and check out the weather forecast in advance to enable you to make a decision about what kit to take.”

Carey Davies, the British Mountaineering Council’s (BMC) hill walking officer, said: “When spring arrives a lot of people feel the pull of the mountains and want to get outdoors again. But sometimes people get caught out at this time of year.

“If you’re going into the hills remember you may encounter the white stuff – anything from the odd patch to large areas. So be prepared.”