A father whose son died beside him on a Norwegian cross-country ski-ing trip has denied claims his group was ill-equipped.
Right: the Hardangervidda plateau. Picture, Hardangervidda Natursenter, Eidfjord
Rupert Wilson was the sole survivor from a party of three caught in a blizzard on . His son Peter, 18, and friend Jim Ross, 50, died of hypothermia. Mr Wilson, 48, was found by chance by a passing Red Cross party on a training exercise.
Reports had suggested the rescue team considered the party poorly equipped, but Mr Wilson refutes the claim, saying they had spare clothing, a bivvy bag and a sleeping bag. They were prepared for a night in a snow hole, if necessary. He also said Mr Ross had skied in the area previously.
But the ex-serviceman revealed that his colleague Mr Ross had become exhausted after trying to reach the hut they were aiming for, to get help. Mr Wilson says that attempt to raise the alarm probably cost his friend his life.
He said: “Jim came back totally exhausted. In effect, he was trying to get help back down to us.” The three men had slowly succumbed to the cold as their trip progressed.
Mr Wilson said the three men found shelter behind a rock, but the high winds blew the snow around the shelter. His son was the first to die, as night fell; Mr Ross’s death followed.
The former Army medic, from near Drumnadrochit, Inverness-shire, shouted for help when he heard the passing rescue team on Sunday. The Red Cross team discovered Mr Wilson’s son and Mr Ross dead, and Mr Wilson suffering from severe hypothermia. He is now 90% recovered and coming to terms with his ordeal in Haukeland University Hospital, Bergen. Norwegian police have described his survival as ‘a miracle’.
Mr Wilson also refuted statements from fellow skiers that the trio had been warned not to make the trip. He said: “We weren't told not to go. We were advised a weather front was coming in and it was our choice. We set off as a team and that team was expecting to make the final hut.”
The Hardangervidda, Europe’s largest mountain plateau, is in southern Norway. It has been described as being similar to the Cairngorm plateau, but much bigger. All three men worked at LifeScan, a company which makes blood-sugar monitors, near Inverness. Colleagues said Peter wanted to follow his father into the armed forces. He lived near Balnain. Mr Ross came from Swordale, Evanton, Ross-shire.