Dr Duncan Scott of the Cairngorm team descends the ridge with the injured climber. Photo: Cairngorm MRT

Dr Duncan Scott of the Cairngorm team descends the ridge with the injured climber. Photo: Cairngorm MRT

Rescuers had to brave conditions described as extremely dangerous to reach a climber injured in a rockfall in the Cairngorms.

Cairngorm Mountain Rescue Team was alerted again the following day to the same corrie on Cairn Gorm where another climber was hurt by a falling rock.

The team was called out about 11am on Saturday when the climber suffered a serious arm injury during a major rockfall on Fingers Ridge in Coire an t-Sneachda.

The volunteer rescuers were airlifted to the corrie in windy, wet and very misty weather by the Inverness Coastguard helicopter, with a team spokesman saying the operation involved ‘some great flying’.

The spokesman said the team had to be lowered 200ft to reach the injured climber who was treated on a small ledge before being lowered a further 500ft into the corrie.

“Conditions on the cliff were extremely dangerous due to the constant danger from rockfall,” the spokesman said.

“With a combination of luck and careful rope management, we managed to get the casualty down with only a couple of the guys getting minor clips from rocks. Some more great flying from Rescue 951 [the Coastguard helicopter] in blustery conditions meant that the casualty was lifted to hospital from the corrie floor.”

Team leader Willie Anderson said: “This was a technically tricky rescue in some pretty nasty conditions. We were all a bit relieved to get the casualty clear of the ridge because of the appalling loose rock.”

“We don’t tend to be called on to do as many big technical lowers as our friends in places like Skye, Lochaber and Glencoe, but the guys train hard so that we get it right when we have to take on a task like this.”

While 20 Cairngorm MRT members were taking part in the rescue, they were also asked to help two lost hillwalkers on Bynack More.

Dave Rutledge, who was controlling the rescue from the team base, said: “Things got a little busy in the base as we were co-ordinating this big technical rescue, and also assisting another party off the hill with the help of Glenmore Lodge.”

The Saturday rescue lasted eight hours. Cairngorm MRT was alerted again the following day when a climber struck by a two-metre-square block of rock in Coire an t-Sneachda, this time on Pygmy Ridge, suffering a serious hand injury.

A small party of team members was called out, buy the injured climber managed to make their own way off the mountain.

Pygmy Ridge was the scene of a fatal incident involving a rockfall a couple of years ago.

Local instructor Ron Walker warned conditions in the corrie were hazardous. He said: “Extreme caution advised if climbing on or walking below Fingers Ridge as there is a brand-new freshly split suitcase-sized block that’s pulled away at the top of the slabby corner of pitch three.

“I just managed to stop it trundling and crushing me and my client below. It’s really just ready to go with the slightest bit of pressure, even just bad weather.

“I couldn’t safely trundle it without endangering my client and walkers on the path below. I’ll try to get back up later to remove it or if someone else can, in the next week or so.

“Please share with your climbing and walking buddies.”

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