An experienced mountaineer died after making a last-minute decision to go ahead with a climb on Cairn Gorm.

A coroner’s court heard that Lt Col Michael Rough fell 200m from the top of the Aladdin’s Mirror route in Coire an t-Sneachda. Bournemouth, Poole and East Dorset Coroner Sheriff Payne recorded a verdict of accidental death on the 48-year-old father of three.

The court heard that Lt Col Rough had not intended to climb the route, merely to inspect it. But because conditions were favourable when he got to the site, he decided to make the ascent. Although he was fully prepared and fit, he had left his helmet at Cairngorm Lodge Youth Hostel, where he was staying.

He was airlifted by RAF helicopter to Raigmore Hospital in Inverness, but pronounced dead. A post-mortem examination determined he died of head and chest injuries due to the fall.

Lt Col John Adams, who investigated the accident which happened on 19 January this year, told the court it would never be known exactly what went wrong. He said: “It is my opinion that Lt Col Rough reached the top of the climb, he stopped, placing his ice axe in the snow, possibly to remove his flask and in doing so slipped.”

Lt Col Rough was due to undergo a mountain leader training assessment prior to a trip to Greenland in 2008. He was the third climber to die in the corrie in just over two months.

Lt Col Rough was based at Blandford Camp, Dorset, but was a native of Fife.

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