Mon. May 20th, 2019

‘Swiss climbers’ died in Ben Nevis avalanche

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Ben Nevis rescue operation PA
Police at scene of Ben Nevis rescue effort

Three climbers who died following an avalanche on Ben Nevis on Tuesday were Swiss nationals, the BBC understands.

A fourth climber was seriously injured and has been receiving treatment at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Glasgow.

The avalanche in Number 5 Gully was witnessed by a Scottish Avalanche Information Service team member and a climbing guide, who raised the alarm.

The incident on the mountain, near Fort William, was one of the worst Scottish climbing accidents in recent years.

Twenty-nine volunteer mountain rescuers were involved the rescue operation as well as a group of military personnel from the Joint Services Mountain Training Centre.

Lochaber MRT said conditions on the mountain were “very difficult with very high winds, snow and thunder and lightning”.

A Coastguard helicopter involved in the rescue effort

The weather hampered the efforts of Coastguard helicopter crews, despite “some excellent flying”, the team said.

The alarm was raised by the avalanche information service forecaster and a guide climbing in the area.

The Scottish Avalanche Information Service assesses potential avalanche risk for Lochaber, where Ben Nevis is located, and five other mountain areas.

Lochaber MRT said the incident was the third avalanche in Number 5 Gully since Saturday.

On Saturday evening, a party of four climbers were “avalanched”. One of the group was swept down the gully but was not injured.

Mountain rescue teams, the coastguard, police and ambulance service were involved in the rescue effort

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said her thoughts were with the bereaved and injured following the “absolutely tragic news”.

SNP MSP Kate Forbes added: “I’m sure that the hearts of everybody in the local area go out to those who are grieving. I sincerely hope that there are no further casualties.”

She also expressed gratitude to the mountain rescue team volunteers who were “ready and willing to go out in all weathers whenever the call comes”.

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