Rescuers are still seeking information on Rachel Slater and Tim Newton

Rescuers are still seeking information on Rachel Slater and Tim Newton

The families of two climbers missing on Ben Nevis said they are still hopeful the couple will be found.

Conditions on the mountain are too hazardous for searches on foot, but Lochaber Mountain Rescue Team said it hoped a search by a Coastguard helicopter, which is in the area, would be possible on Thursday afternoon.

The Inverness-based aircraft had to divert yesterday afternoon to a fatal avalanche incident on Creag Meagaidh in northern Lochaber.

Rachel Slater and Tim Newton of Bradford, West Yorkshire, have not been seen since Sunday. The couple, both experienced climbers, were in the area celebrating Valentine’s Day. The alarm was raised when Ms Slater failed to return to work on Monday.

Today, their families released a statement through the police. They said: “We are extremely grateful to members of the emergency services and search and rescue personnel who are searching for Rachel and Tim.

“The overwhelming response from members of the public and the climbing community has greatly assisted the search effort and we appreciate all the support and words of encouragement.

“As a family we urge anyone who was in the Ben Nevis area last weekend and may have seen or spoken to Rachel and Tim at any time to get in touch. We think Rachel was climbing in a turquoise jacket and purple helmet. Tim may have been wearing a red jacket, similar to the photo in circulation.

“We’d also like to appeal to anyone planning to climb or hike in the area this weekend to be aware of the ongoing search activity and to report anything they feel may be relevant – even if it appears insignificant – to police on 101.

“As the search continues we remain hopeful Rachel and Tim will be found and reunited with their families and friends.”

Lochaber Mountain Rescue Team said: “We will be back out on foot as soon as conditions allow to carry out the search safely.

“The conditions continue to remain challenging and we would advise anyone planning to head out in Lochaber to take look at the [Scottish Avalanche Information Service] web page as the avalanche hazard remains considerable.

“We are not saying that you should not go out onto the hills; just to be aware, pick an appropriate route for conditions and stay safe.

“We would also like to thank everyone who has provided information to assist with our search. Please keep sharing as there may just be someone who was climbing on Saturday or Sunday who is not aware of the need for information.”

The avalanche risk for Friday is forecast to be high in Lochaber above 800m on aspects from the North through to the East. A similar risk will exist in the Creag Meagaidh area, where yesterday’s fatal incident happened.

A high risk category, the second most severe, means natural avalanches will occur and a single-person load will trigger an avalanche on some slopes.

Good visibility and good route-finding in mountain terrain is essential, as is experience in avalanche hazard evaluation when such a risk prevails.

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  3. Identity of Ben Nevis bodies ‘likely to be confirmed as Rachel Slater and Tim Newton’
  4. Ben Nevis couple’s families thank rescuers and climbers as identities of bodies confirmed
  5. Lochaber rescuers: climbers, tell us your routes to help in search for Rachel and Tim