Ben Macdui. Photo: Graham Ellis CC-BY-SA-2.0

Ben Macdui. Photo: Graham Ellis CC-BY-SA-2.0

Two walkers were rescued after getting completely lost in the Cairngorms.

The pair set off on Wednesday to tackle Britain’s second-highest mountain, Ben Macdui.

They were eventually found more than 13km (8 miles) from the peak, at Linn of Dee, and 21km (13 miles) from their starting point at the CairnGorm Mountain ski centre.

Cairngorm Mountain Rescue Team spent what a spokesperson called ‘seven brutal hours’ searching the Cairngorms plateau in gale force winds and rain. The Braemar team also joined the hunt for the pair and Aberdeen MRT was also called out but stood down as the walkers were found about 11pm.

A team spokesperson said: “The two walkers tried ascend Macdui, turned round in the mist to get back to the ski area and lost themselves. Easy done if you forgo the benefits of a map and compass.”

Rescuers said the two men were lucky. The weather forecast said conditions would be mean, but they were brutal, they said.

And they warned there was worse on the way. A Cairngorm MRT spokesperson said winter is coming. “The forecast for next week is for heavy snowfall and we’re expecting strong winds.”

The spokesperson pointed out that, if you’re using a mobile phone for its navigation app, torch and phone, the whole small package will be unusable if the battery becomes exhausted in the cold after a day on the hill.

Willy Anderson, team leader, said: “We are seeing a worrying trend over the autumn of people undertaking serious mountaineering adventures without using proper equipment.”

Some online sources of routes describe ascents of the 1,309m (4,295ft) mountain without emphasising the potential difficulties in poor weather or winter conditions.

The team spokesperson said: “Before the inevitable debate kicks off about preparedness, we just want to say that we don’t mind rescuing people; we don’t judge and we appreciate that some people don’t realise what they are undertaking, not least as the online description of a nice day out may not factor in the weather.

“But we have recently rescued a series of people whose luck has held remarkably. Winter is now here, and relying on luck to survive the plateau may not end up in a good result.”

The Cairngorm team posted a Facebook video showing conditions during the search.

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