After plunging through an overhang of snow and ice, suffering serious injuries in a 200-metre fall and lying for nearly 12 hours, the skier rescued from Aonach Beag may have thought he was not going to make it off the mountain alive.
But, despite high winds and whiteout conditions, rescuers were on their way.
After a 1,000m climb, four members of the Lochaber Mountain Rescue Team were forced to turn back a tantalising 200m from where the man lay because the unstable snow threatened an avalanche that could have swept them to their deaths. But then, a helicopter was able to fly to about 1.5km from the summit, enabling two Lochaber team members and a Nevis Range ski patroller to be lowered down to the casualty, who was given first aid, winched back up and taken to hospital. He is expected to recover, a life almost certainly saved because of the bravery and skill of Scotland’s mountain rescue teams.
It should be remembered that, despite their ‘professionalism’, these unpaid volunteers are largely motivated by the purest of amateur principles – the love of the hills.