James Edwards. Photo: Oliver Metherell

James Edwards. Photo: Oliver Metherell

Rescuers have revealed details of the difficult operation to reach one of their members who died after falling on a remote mountain in north-west Scotland.

Keith Bryers, chair of Dundonnell Mountain Rescue Team, also paid tribute to James Edwards who, he said, was an accomplished climber, well known in mountaineering circles.

Mr Edwards fell from Ruadh Stac Mòr, a 918m (3,012ft) munro in the Fisherfield Forest, north-east of Letterewe. He had set out on Friday 12 August to set up a radio relay on the mountain in preparation for the Great Wilderness Challenge event the following day.

Mr Bryers said: “Since 1987 Dundonnell MRT has provided a safety net to participants, with members dispersed along the route and on nearby high spots to provide a radio net and first aid, if required, across this vast and rugged area.

“James had done this on previous challenges. Unfortunately, whilst ascending the hill, James slipped and fell.

“Fortunately, he carried with him a personal locator beacon and, while he had sustained injuries in his fall, he was sufficiently conscious to activate the beacon and give a precise position to the beacon rescue centre.

“This information was passed to the team and enabled us to locate James as quickly as we did, but even then this took some six hours to achieve due to the distances we had to walk with bulky rescue and medical kit.

“We were very pleased to have had assistance from colleagues in neighbouring Torridon MRT in undertaking this callout.”

At that stage, the Inverness Coastguard rescue helicopter was unable to get to his position because of very poor weather conditions.

Team members reached Mr Edwards in the early hours of Saturday and were able to render immediate emergency medical care, making him as comfortable as possible before getting ready to completely immobilise him for the helicopter’s arrival and preventing any further injury.

Mr Bryers said: “At first light James was stretchered down to a position where it was possible for the helicopter to lift him out despite testing conditions. We are very grateful to the crew of HM Coastguard helicopter ‘Rescue 948’ for their persistence and for their returning later to collect the very tired team.”

The team chairman said Mr Edwards would be missed by all his colleagues. “Having climbed all over the world, James was well known in mountaineering circles.

“Upon joining the team in 2013 he quickly brought his experience to bear, making a significant contribution to our activities.

“James subsequently trained to become one of the team’s emergency medicine technicians and took part in a number of callouts, including a memorable and successful one at Torr Achility, close to home.

“His climbing stories and sense of humour will be much missed by us all. Our heartfelt thoughts are with his family.”

A private celebration of Mr Edwards’s life will be held on Saturday. Dundonnell MRT said anyone wishing to make a donation in support of the team’s activities can do so via its justgiving link on its website.

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