Buachaille Etive Mòr. Photo: Christine McIntosh CC-BY-ND-2.0

Buachaille Etive Mòr. Photo: Christine McIntosh CC-BY-ND-2.0

Police in the Highlands today said they would not be releasing the names of the two men who died on Buachaille Etive Mòr earlier this week until a formal identification had taken place.

The two men died after falling more than 450m (1,500ft) down the mountain in Glencoe on Wednesday, 24 February. They were descending from a climb on the 1,022m (3,353ft) Stob Dearg, one of the mountain’s two munros, when they set off an avalanche which swept them over a large drop. A third climber with them survived and was able to make his way down to search for his companions.

It is likely to be early next week before the men’s names are made public.

John Grieve, Glencoe Mountain Rescue Team leader, told BBC Radio Scotland: “Two of the party set off a very small slab avalanche that just took them off their feet, they fell a long way. It was very steep ground and they fell about 1,500ft, right down almost to the bottom of the mountain.”

Two other climbers helped the surviving man down the ridge and they searched for the men who had fallen.

“They climbed all the way down the mountain, checking areas where the two might be, until they found their bodies,” Mr Grieve said.

They found the fallen climbers and guided rescuers to the site using their GPS receiver. Mr Grieve said conditions were too bad to allow a helicopter rescue.

Contrary to initial reports, and as pointed out by Rich P, who posted a comment on a previous grough account of the incident, the men did not actually fall from Curved Ridge, but from a spur bounding the west side of Coire na Tulaich that leads down above Creag Coire na Tulaich towards Creag a’ Bhancair – a recognised safer descent if the normal corrie descent is liable to avalanche.

grough confirmed this fact today with Heather Morning, the Mountaineering Council of Scotland’s mountain safety adviser, who said the three climbers had deliberately avoided Coire na Tulaich, scene of a triple-fatal avalanche in January last year.

The route is a broad ridge with a few rocky sections. It is believed the avalanche happened near the top of the ridge.

Initial police reports had said the incident happened in the Curved Ridge area, which is about 1.5km (1 mile) from the actual site.

Heavy snow has continued to fall in much of Scotland today. Ms Morning reported there was close to a metre of snow on the roof of Glenmore Lodge in the Cairngorms. The Mountain Weather Information Service forecast for today was for almost blanket whiteout on many higher areas in the Highlands.

The avalanche risk in Glencoe is high on all aspects from the north through western slopes to the south above 600m.

The observer’s report said: “The most hazardous avalanche conditions for some time. Care is required until the snowpack consolidates. There is no sign of this happening for a good few days yet.”

The other four areas covered by the service all show high risk on at least some mountain aspects.

Much of the Highlands have an unusually high amount of snow, with the main A9 road closed at various points. Police have advised travellers to make their journeys only if absolutely necessary.

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