Weather hampers rescue effort in search for missing climbers

Mountain rescue teams who encountered 'very challenging conditions' in their search for three missing climbers in the Scottish Highlands are assessing the weather before resuming the rescue effort.

Cairngorm Mountain Rescue Team
Cairngorm Mountain Rescue Team

The latest incident occurred on Sunday when a 55-year-old man fell through a cornice, an overhanging ledge of snow, on Beinn a’ Chaorainn, in the Roy Bridge area of Lochaber.

Volunteers from Lochaber and Cairngorm mountain rescue teams have been searching for the man, but bad weather and avalanche risk have limited their efforts.

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Meanwhile searches have taken place recently to find two other men.

Neil Gibson, 63, had set out last Thursday morning with his brother Alan, 56, to climb Munros north of Strathcarron in Wester Ross.

The alarm was raised early the following day when they failed to return.

Alan Gibson’s body was found in the Achnashellach area on Saturday following extensive searches by Torridon and Dundonnell mountain rescue teams,Coastguard rescue helicopter and the Search and Rescue Dog Association.

Attempts to locate his brother ended at about 4pm on Sunday over safety concerns and “horrendous” conditions.

Arjan Hendriks, Torridon mountain rescue team leader, said: “We’ve been out for a full three days. Today’s conditions were absolutely horrendous. It was fairly nice in the morning, then at 11am it turned to sleet and strong winds, so visibility was zero. We deemed it unsafe.”

Police had said further rescue attempts would not take place until today due to accumulation of snow deterring rescue attempts.

Also missing is a hillwalker who fell through a cornice on Ben Nevis, the UK’s highest mountain, into Observatory Gully below on Sunday 21 January. The Lochaber mountain rescue team lost a rescue drone during their search for the missing climber.

Two other members of the group were carried down the mountain by the Lochaber mountain rescue team before being picked up by a coastguard helicopter.

Avalanches and the risk of further snow slides have impacted on efforts to find the man.

On Monday Police Scotland issued a warning to people using the mountains to take note of weather and avalanche warnings and to be aware weather can change quickly.