Luke Bradley, left, and Chris Bell celebrate after the first race they ever won together

Luke Bradley, left, and Chris Bell celebrate after the first race they ever won together

A friend of one of the four hillwalkers killed in the avalanche in Glencoe at the weekend will take part in a gruelling mountain-biking marathon in his memory.

Luke Bradley was a cycling partner and sometime rival of Chris Bell, the PhD student who was one of four young mountaineers killed when an avalanche swept them 300m (1,000ft) down Bidean nam Bian on Saturday.

Mr Bradley and three friends, Oli Young, Huw Oliver and Pete Devlin will take part in the Strathpuffer 24-hour mountain-bike marathon as a tribute to Chris Bell and to raise cash for the Glencoe and Lochaber Mountain Rescue Teams, whose members took part in the operation to try to save the young walkers and the search for their bodies.

They will form two teams of two in the race, described as one of the toughest in the world, and involves riding up to 200 miles, much of it in darkness.

The appeal has already raised more than £10,000 for the teams.

Luke had known Chris for about six years after meeting him at St Andrew’s University, where Mr Bell was captain of the mountain-biking team.

“The word everyone used for Chris was ‘gentleman’. But he was also enthusiastic and dedicated to being faster and going up bigger mountains,” Luke said.

The pair took part in both downhill and cross-country mountain marathons and Mr Bell had lately got into ultra-triathlons, Mr Bradley added.

The 24-year-old, who now lives in Sheffield, said: “He was a very enthusiastic, joyful young guy. I’ll miss him massively.”

Luke was an enthusiastic rock climber while at university but mountain biking is his preferred activity in the hills now.

Chris Bell, an elite mountain biker

Chris Bell, an elite mountain biker

He said Chris was one of the top riders in Scotland. He only managed to beat his friend once. “Chris was an elite-class rider, which is as good as you can get in the UK.”

The Strathpuffer race, based in Strathpeffer in Wester Ross, takes place this Saturday and Sunday.

Luke has set up a justgiving page for the Glencoe Mountain Rescue Team and the Lochaber Mountain Rescue Team which, at the time of posting, has brought in more than £9,200. With Gift Aid, the total has reached more than £10,000.

Chris Bell’s companions Tom Chesters, a PhD student, Una Finnegan, a junior doctor and fellow medic Dr Rachel Majumdar perished in the incident on Argyll’s highest mountain.

A 24-year-old woman is in a critical condition in Sothern General Hospital, Glasgow, after suffering head injuries in the incident. One member of the party escaped without injury after he managed to arrest his fall with his ice-axe.

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